Wednesday, December 15, 2010

If you can't stand the heat . . .

Now I remember why I stopped all the Christmas baking about 4 years ago. Well, not all. I had to make one batch of each family member’s favorite. We had homemade Heath bar, peanut butter balls (or buckeyes), and decorated cookies. Enough, right? Well, for some reason I felt the compulsion to start it all up again like I used to. I am glad I do not like sugar as much as I did, but it still has a firm pull on me!

I looked up how to make pralines, something that has seldom turned out for me, and one reviewer of Paula Deen’s recipe said these tasted just like her grandmother’s. My result might have tasted like somebody’s grandmother’s, but not like my grandmother’s, which is the gold standard. That lady could churn out shirtboxes by the dozen, full of the most beautiful variety of homemade candy. I can do peanut brittle almost like hers, but the rest . . . well, I need some tips. My attempt at divinity today looked promising. Then it got all dry at the end. What did I do? Beat it too long? Cook the second half of the syrup too long? Oh, too many factors. Besides, I need to go back to the one batch of each person’s favorite. The trouble is, I can’t choose a favorite! Maybe that’s why I am attempting all of the contenders that would make it to my top choice.

Tonight I was doing several things at once in the kitchen and enlisted N’s help in doing a few dishes. He has taken several batches of chocolate mint brownies to school for different ones who have helped him so much. So while I was cutting into another pan of those, he was rinsing a plate on which I had mixed spices together to sprinkle on chicken. He asked if he could taste it, and I warned him he would not like it but he could try if he wanted. (Paprika, garlic, pepper, salt, red pepper, thyme, etc.) He put his finger in and licked it, then said, “Tastes tingly. I like it.” I was surprised. A few seconds later, “Is it hot in here or is it just me?” It is cute when he is waiting for my laugh.

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