Friday, December 17, 2010

How Not To Make Christmas Candy

Because the world is just a nicer and more organized place when it's listed in numerical order, and also because it's easier for me to jump from bunny trail to bunny trail without thinking of an appropriate segue, here's the latest posting - in numerical order, if you please.

1.  There is a black hole of moving from which precious things never return.  Sucked into the latest one are one pair of Anna's snow boots (which probably wouldn't fit her this year anyway, so no loss), the left boot of MY snow boots (big loss!  BIG LOSS!  My feet are cold!), my jewelry box with all my expensive, priceless family heirlooms jewelry (bought at KMart), my homemade birthday calendar (so don't be surprised when I forget your birthday), and all five of my family's Christmas stockings.  I think I will make new stockings, but I'm trying to figure out how to do so without my holiday elves's help.  I know, I know.  Terrific mothering.  But nothing brings out my OCD tendencies like a craft project.  They'll hot glue the snowman hats on crooked!  They won't use the right colored ribbon!  The letters won't be symmetrical!  Yes, I know it would be even cuter that way, but you don't have to walk by them on the hearth every year and wince at the mistakes and try to peel the dried glue off and redo everything when they're not looking.  Maybe if I tell them it's part of their Christmas gifts then I would be free to work on them alone?

2.  Another year has come and gone and the holidays have somehow snuck on me again, in spite of me looking forward to them all year.  Suddenly, it's too late to learn how to knit and make homemade potholders for everyone!  What the hey??  I barely got my cards out in time and it was by the skin of my teeth, I'll tell you.  By the way, when you ask your hubby to pick up the cards at Walmart don't be surprised when he returns with three things you didn't ask for and no cards.  And I forgot to take the red eye out before I hit the "I have edited my photo" and "proceed to checkout" button, so please be aware that although I tease my kids about being demons at times, they aren't literally red eyed demons.  At least I don't think so. Photographic evidence says otherwise.

3.  I have had in my mind for several weeks to do a super duper cute blog about my marriage, complete with lots of older photos, but I had to wait until I could buy an ink cartridge for the printer.  So I bought one.  But now the printer is broken.  So never mind.  Maybe for my next marriage.

4.  I really was a slacker when it came to homemade gifts this year.  I'm feeling rather guilty about it.  Normally I bake a ton.  Remember those truffles?  Oh, I know you do, my little friends, I know you do.  But like I said, somehow December snuck up on me.  I did make some peanut brittle for family, but it was causing me major anxiety.  Every year, bout this time, I desperately want to own a candy thermometer.  The problem is, I never remember I need one until I'm in the thick of making candy.  So, I do the ol' drop a bit into cold water trick, but I gotta say: not the most reliable method in the known universe.  So half the time my fudge won't fudge and becomes  ice cream sauce and my divinity is simply something you pile on spoons and feed to your kids for breakfast.  I meant dessert.  So this year, I decide to do peanut brittle, because that just sounds like a manly man candy that would be appropriate for the Papas and Papa-in-laws and Brother-in-laws in my life.  Oh, you didn't know that there is feminine and masculine candy?  Well, you are welcome for that knowledge.  Men don't want petit fours and lavender infused truffles, silly ones.  And girls don't want peanut brittle because - well, OK, we might want peanut brittle.  Anyway, though, my sauce took flippin' FOREVER AND EVER (welcome to the Department of Redundancy Department) to come to the hard crack stage.  Hard crack stage is evidently somewhere between a few minutes of boiling and Christmas of 2012.  And of course I was making it at the last possible second - basically when I was supposed to be at the Post Office mailing the said peanut brittle, not sweating over the stove whispering desperately, 'Come on, baby, come on, cook, drat you, cook!'   Needless to say I stopped a few scant moments before I should have and the brittle turned out less brittle than say, chewier than gnawing on decade old candy corn.  While I was frantically trying to boil the sugar syrup, I was also trying to make penuche for my mommy.  Penuche is like a brown sugar fudge.  Again, a time when a candy thermometer would've come in real handy like.  But fudge only has to reach the soft ball stage, so that's not quite as time consuming as the sugar syrup for the peanut brittle.  However, attempting to make both at once, keep a nekked three year old out of the vicinity, pack boxes for mailing and do all the other tens of hundreds of things that need to be done, is a bit redonkulous.  It's not easy to make fudge in a hurry too.  Well, the marshmallow kind with the sweetened condensed milk - that one can be done speedy like, but I prefer to really torture myself at Christmas and not cheat with the easy recipes.  So anyway, my penuche got to the appropriate stage and being in a hurry I didn't want to wait for it to come to room temperature all by itself, so I stuck the pot out in the snow.  Then when I brought it back for it's beating it was still too hot so I stuck an ice pack under the mixer and then I really did cheat: I let the kitchenaid beat the snot out of it while I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to salvage the peanut brittle.  Now even when penuche is exactly perfect, it still looks like a pile of poop.  Baby poop mostly.  But when I don't have time to let it set perfectly and then slice it neatly into tiny little squares, package it into a pretty Christmas tin (only one with a Norman Rockwell scene on it will do), label it with a gold sparkly pen "To Mommy", and then carefully place it into the box of Endless Delights (which is what I like to call the box of presents I sent), then here is what I actually end up doing after the whole snow and ice pack debacle:  toss the pan into the van and when I've gotten to the UPS Store, attempt to slice it in the parking lot with a plastic knife someone left in the backseat.  My fingers froze.  It didn't have enough time to set.  It looked like baby poop and not even pretty squares of baby poop, just a steaming pile of baby poop.  So I slap it on some aluminum foil, while muttering henious curse words like "son of a nutcracker!" and "oh, sugarplums!" under my breath.  During this special holiday season, it's important to keep your cursing Christmas friendly.  So, Mom, when you receive your box of Endless Delights, I do so hope you enjoy your steaming pile of baby poop, because it came from the heart from me to you.


  1. Failed Christmas candy is simply a right of passage. My mom made microwave peanut brittle one year and tried to double the recipe. She doubled the peanuts, but not the brittle and we had a bowl shaped rock of peanuts to gnaw on (when we were able to chip a piece off with an ice pick). She still cries when we bring it up...Oh and we DO bring it up! Who makes brittle in the microwave anyway? It must have been 1987.

  2. bahaha! humorous as always! I felt like I was in your kitchen watching the whole frenzied mess. I need a nap...

  3. ok- I hate it when I type faster than my should be rite of passage...sorry...OK now that I said that I can release it from my brain..breathe