Friday, December 10, 2010

Peanut Brittle

It's the holiday time again, and we are sweet makers, cookie bakers, candy breakers around here...  I started making cookies when I was a kid...  and still have the cookie book my grandma bought me when I was a teenager and inscribed this lovely note to me...  I admit, I was her favorite...  I think she tried to make up to my mom through me, but however it happened, she had a special spot for me, and I worshipped her.  Baking and making candy always brings me back to those days I spent at her house, testing cookie recipes, learning how to cook standing on a chair pulled up to the stove next to her.  She taught me how to make Rouladen when I was in the 3rd grade and I won a blue ribbon at the 4-H cooking contest with it.  She was so proud! 

I made this peanut brittle recipe today, it is from the family cookbook I made a while back.  It is from my cousin Donna Wrfight, who I think got it from the Joy of Cooking...  Let me say it BLOWS AWAY the Sees peanut brittle if you are a fan... here is a photo, and the recipe follows.  It calls for 1 lb of peanuts.  This makes a very peanutty brittle... you could use 1/2 pound and be fine.  I have also made it with other nuts and it is just as good.  Try your own version using macadamias, marcona almonds, pecans, pistacios, cashews, whatever nuts are your favorite.  I make one batch at a time, because the pot I have boils over when I add the baking soda mixture if I double it...  so beware of the foaming in the end....

I will be posting more family favorite holiday recipes all this month, so check back.... or subscribe and follow me on facebook....

Happy Holidays!


1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cups light corn syrup
1 cup water
3 Tbspns butter
1/2 lb shelled unroasted peanuts (I have used the roasted salted ones too and it comes out fine)

Butter 2 cookie sheets and set aside.
Mix baking soda, vanilla and 1 tsp water together, set aside
Mix sugar, water and corn syrup together in 3 qt saucepan. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until 240 degrees or soft ball stage. Stir in butter and then peanuts. (recipe calls for 1 lb but I use a ½ lb and make a double batch that way I get more and it is still just as good) Continue cooking to 300 degrees, or hard crack stage. Be careful as it can burn easily at this stage… remove from heat and add in vanilla baking soda mixture. Candy will foam up and double in volume as well as darken, quickly spread out on cookie sheets and stretch with wooden spoon to desired thinness. You must work fast. Allow to cool. Break into pieces and serve. Can be stored in an airtight bag for 2 weeks.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ode to my uterus

This is an art piece I did when I found out I was having a hysterectomy.  I was really bummed out about it for a lot of reasons...  Mostly I was angry and resentful at my ex for insisting I have my tubes tied cause he was too chickenshit to get a vasectomy... because I really wanted 2 more kids...  I would have them now and they would be 5 and 3...  little versions of me and Paskie...  with big eyes and dark curly hair and chubby cheeks...  probably fluent in english and spanish...  I cried for those babies that would never be born.  I cried for being so controlled by my ex that I allowed HIM to decide what would happen to my body, instead of taking a stand and saying, "No, you get snipped if you don't want more."  But then he never would have had his other daughter, who was a miracle, since the new wife wasn't supposed to be able to have kids... so she never would have existed if another choice was made...  I started to be sad for the loss of the should haves and could haves, and got so lost in it, that for a time, I had to just be with it and cry. Then I decided I had mourned enough.  I needed to find the gifts.  So I looked at all the things my uterus had accomplished and been through during her working years...  So here is my eulogy for Aunt Mary...

Aunt Mary we affectionately called her here in our house... her and her monthly visits. She loved to go on trips, and always managed to show up just as we were leaving so she could tag along for most of it.,  She had a rocky start in the early years as a teen.  We had endometriosis and a couple of surgeries, and wondered if we could even carry a baby... But like the little engine that could...  she chugged along in spite of the doctors warnings. She provided me with four awesome kids.  She and I survived induced labor, pitocin and no epidural (ouch) and a beautiful quiet easy breezy natural delivery without a doctor for the first half of delivery.  We had our water broke, and she hung in there like a champ as she pushed baby number 3 out with one push.  She was poked and prodded and  cut open with a c-section when baby number 4 decided she liked her butt tucked snugly under my pelvic bone.  She watched her friends Fallopian Tubes and Ovaries say a final goodbye, as I debated with the doctor over tying both tubes or only doing one and rolling the dice.  I wish I had been a gambler.  She worked very hard to help 3 different couples become a family through surrogacy.  She did her part, but their eggs just weren't healthy enough to implant in her...... 

Then a few months ago, I started noticing she was tired...  worn out, and literally falling out of me...  Poor Mary.  We had a good run... Wish I could have put you up in a hammock with a mai tai and let you retire in style...  but we had to part...  you and I... I will miss you.  You were very good to me.  I will remember you fondly.  I never thought of you as a curse.  I celebrated every single time you visited.  and also the times you didn't..  I wish you well Mary.  Rest In Peace....

Monday, December 6, 2010

Classes with the Fabulous Katherine England

So I took some classes this past weekend at Katherine England's studio in Fullerton.  She is such a sweet person.  Spent Saturday doing a fused glass class, and Sunday making a Wizard of Oz journal.  Learned some great techniques and made some really cool stuff.  If you are ever in the area and want to take a fun class, check her out... I am planning taking some of the classes next year. 

The journal was a color copy of the book front and back, glued to birch boards 1/4 inch thick.  We used PVA and a credit card to stick it down, and then minwax polycrylic to seal it.  Then we used the 140 lb watercolor paper sheets to make 6 signatures, and sewed it together using the coptic stitch technique.  She gives you all the materials you need to make the book.  I would suggest if you want to add jewels and bling bling to the stitches, you bring that along with you.  I bought this sparkly red faux leather at the fabric store with one of those... "I don't know what I will use it for but I am getting it anyway" kind of moments... and LOVE how the sparkly red looks on the spine.

The houses were all made with Dichroic glass.  I cut and nipped the pieces, and made a holy ton of houses for a future mosaic piece.  I also experimented with making pendants, sandwiching 2 pieces of glass, dichro to dichro with clear on top, and got some pretty cool results.  I can't wait to get more and make a ton more things.  I want to make pendants for my etsy shop...  I have some steampunk themed ideas rolling around in my head that would be really cool....