Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Gift To You

It is said that the feelings and emotions and one's general state of being is imparted into the food one is cooking. If that is true, you might actually taste some F bombs, some third degree burns and generally pissiness when biting into a piece of my homemade Great Aunt Hilda's peanut brittle. The women on my mom's side of the family have been making peanut brittle for generations. Christmas for me has always been associated with my mother stirring away, apron on, Amy Grant and Karen Carpenter on the soundtrack and Frank Capra getting a tight shot of the steaming, peanuty goodness emanating from the large pot on the stove. So it made perfect sense that I would carry on this tradition. In high school chemistry my lab partner and I made the best brittle of the class. It was now scientifically proven. Brittle making was in my genes.

My tradition of peanut brittle making played out like this. A closet-sized Los Angeles kitchen, JT on the CD player, candy thermometers encased in 300 degree brittle goo over an electric stove, said burning goo eating through my skin, cat hair, migraines, frantic phone calls and a pan of yummy smelly peanut not so brittle for my efforts. Each time my sympathetic roommate would just shake her head, suggest this be the year I give gift cards and point out the fire extinguisher under the sink. I absolutely suck at making peanut brittle and tend to make most everyone around me miserable in the process, but yet I persevere, year after year. Why? Because it is my birthright. Because it makes for a very cool gift. And because every year I make one absolutely perfect batch that compels me to return to the Schnucks for more corn syrup and replacement candy thermometers.

Now that we live in an actual house with a Barbie dream kitchen, I thought that maybe my troubles had been equipment-related. Not so much. My first batch of the season could rip the enamel off of your teeth. Then there was the burnt batch. The one that you could roll into brittle balls and maim an intruder with. And then there was the perfect batch, the golden caramel hue, the perfect harmony of crispness with buttery peanut crunch. Biting into a piece, I spied Harlow watching me from her neglectomatic. I have yet to see whether she will inherit the curly hair, the penchant for melodramatics and dreaminess, the mongloid hands. But I can say with certainty there will be a day that she will stand beside me at the stove, listening to me curse at volcanically hot goo while stirring in baking soda like a madwoman. She will glimpse her future and I hope she will choose the gift cards.


RJA said...

Forget the peanut brittle, where can I get a Neglectomatic?

Stacey Greenberg said...

neglectomatic *snort*

i also like the barbie dream kitchen descriptor.

your xmas card was so C-U-T-E!!