Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Playing Catch Up - A "Perfect" Place to Start

Yes, I know I'm terribly behind on the blog. Hey, with an end-of-year like we have, is it any wonder? It's always so crazy and December '10 was no exception. But the dust has finally settled, so I'll catch you up a bit. Let's start at the beginning of the madness, shall we? Opening Day for a perfect candy making season!

This year was a special year for Cousin Pam and I. December 2010 marked the 10th anniversary of our candy-making partnership. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long, but it has. Pam & I had already been thinking about some special delectable anniversary treat, but I wanted to do something just for us to commemorate the decade. I had the perfect thing in mind – but it would require time and the efforts of others to pull it off.

There’s a lot involved in making all the candy that we make every year:
Hours standing over a hot pot.

Careful timing, and getting the pour just right so the candy’s not too thick, too thin or too greasy.  Heating the chocolate to just the right temperature so it doesn’t dry out and get clumpy.

And of course, getting those walnuts chopped to just the right size and spreading them evenly to finish out the product.  It’s time consuming and a little stressful – especially when things don’t turn out quite right. Oh the sadness of throwing out a failed batch of candy!

But then there’s the fruits of all that labor – sheet after sheet of perfect toffee, stacked precariously high…waiting to be broken up into bite-sized pieces. The task would be daunting if smashing the stuff to bits wasn't so darn therapeutic.

I actually used to dread breaking the toffee. I used to do it by hand – which is pretty hard on the fingers when you’re talking about breaking up 50# of the stuff. Then I switched to stabbing it with a knife. This method worked fine, but it wasn’t very good for the knife or the cutting board. This is the way I was doing it when Pam joined the team. Then, through some stroke of genius, we discovered a different tool – Duke’s contribution to the process if you will – an oyster knife!  Not too sharp, not too dull, comfy rounded handle…it’s PERFECT!!

Only problem, we only had one of them…until this year. Then I had my brilliant idea! I’d have an oyster knife made for Pam so she’d have one of her very own!

Then I got another brilliant idea! Why not have it made out of a piece of walnut wood from one of Grandma’s trees? Perfect!

Hmmm…now who could I get to fetch a piece of walnut wood from Grandma’s place? I KNOW!! Uncle Jerry!!! He’s the perfect man for the job! And sure enough! He came through in spades with two nice big chunks of wood for me.

Hmmm…now how do I get it back to Texas? I KNOW!! Friends Kurt & Karen – who conveniently live out west and in Texas can bring it back to me on one of their many road trips. Yep! Perfect!!  They could do it.

Now, who’s going to make this thing for me? That’s easy! I’ll just find someone in the fabulous handmade Etsy community. I didn’t have to look far. Adam at Acrylic & Steel was happy to help me out. So, I sent him Duke’s old knife and the wood and VOILA!!

10th Anniversary commemorative toffee knives!! Made out of wood from the place where it all started! One for each of us! Perfect!

Next up, perfecting our anniversary treat – we settled something popcorn related. We wanted something that honored Grandma’s memory, and popcorn always makes me think of her. She used to use popcorn as box filler in the care packages she sent me. And she also made some pretty good candied popcorn (but you’ve got to contact my Dad if you want any of that.)

So, we started with savory popcorn, coated it in toffee & walnuts.  Our official tasters thought it was yummy, but that it could possibly be yummier.

So they drizzled it with dark chocolate.

Our gift to the world:  Toffee*Pop!  Mmmm-mmmm-PERFECT!

Oh, and I wont be making that stuff again any time soon, so don't go asking. It was too good. I couldn’t stop eating it!

1 comment:

The Lenzers said...

really? can I come live with you? Your house is always clean, your laundry is immaculant, and you make 50 pounds of freaking toffee and created a new kind. And so creative as to give a gift hand made out of grandma's freaking tree! So you ever take your cape off, super D?