By Kathy Otten
I love the holidays. Once Thanksgiving is over I usually start baking for Christmas. I give gifts of candy and cookies to my coworkers, neighbors and friends. When my kids were younger they helped, and gave home-made treats to their friends. We ate whatever goodies remained. There was one traditional candy though that my family refused to allow me to give away and that was the peanut brittle I made every year. My family loves it and here is the recipe I have made every Christmas for the past thirty years.
Buttery Peanut Brittle
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
½ cup water
1 cup butter
2 cups peanuts chopped (I never chop mine-too lazy)1 teaspoon baking soda
Heat and stir sugar, syrup and water in 3 quart saucepan till sugar dissolves. While syrup boils, blend in butter. Stir often after 230°. Add nuts at 280°; stir constantly to hard crack stage 305°. (I suggest using a wooden spoon. Metal ones get hot and the white plastic ones melt, as my daughter discovered when she made some for her boyfriend) Remove from heat. Quickly stir in soda, mixing well. (I usually have the nuts and soda measured and ready ahead of time) Pour onto 2 cookie sheets. Stretch thin by lifting and pulling from edges with forks. (And as good as it looks too eat, do not lick off spoon or fork until cool. Trust me it is hot and you will burn your lips and tongue and won’t be able to taste the peanut brittle or anything else until it heals.) Loosen from pans as soon as possible. Break up. Makes 2 ½ pounds.
And to get you in the holiday spirit, here is an excerpt from my Victorian Holiday novella, ANOTHER WALTZ.
The winner of the Nook give-away will also win a PDF copy Another Waltz!
Squinting, Madeline peered around the branches of the large Christmas tree, which filled the back corner of the ballroom.
Hoping to avoid the prying eyes of Lucille’s guests, Madeline had just stepped through the servants’ door and sidled along the back wall until she’d reached the wide boughs of the twelve foot Douglas Fir.
Red and gold ribbons, strings of popcorn and cranberries, all twined around the tree. Paper angels and cornucopias hung from the many branches. Silver and gold Dresdens in shapes of animals and trains filled the empty spaces, and hand-blown, glass ornaments from Germany had been clipped to the tree, each holding a candle, their tiny flames flickering like stars among the branches.
She focused her gaze on the blurry rainbow of beautiful gowns swirling across the floor. The gentlemen, austere in their dark tail coats with splotches of white waistcoats and shirts, partnered the perfect complement to the ladies’ finery.
Garland of evergreens, ivy, dried flowers, and red bows festooned the large windows, doorways, and picture frames.
Stringed music floated from the raised platform at the north end of the ballroom to mingle with the laughter and conversation of more than seventy guests.
Pressing her white gloved hands against her waist, she tried to still the fluttering butterflies. Though the taffeta gown had been one of Lucille’s hand-me-downs, Fiona, Lucille’s ladies maid, had spent all her free time remaking the evening dress.
Using the extra yards of blue silk designed to cover an outdated bell-shaped crinoline, Fiona had draped an overskirt then created a pleated underskirt and train. While the skirts on many of the dresses worn tonight had three and four tiers of lace-edged fabric, Fiona had designed Madeline’s dress with one tier, claiming it would make her seem taller and not like an over-stuffed sofa.
Then as soon as Fiona had finished helping Lucille dress, she had come upstairs to Madeline’s room. Working quickly, Fiona lifted the dress over Madeline’s head then pulled back her hair on either side, arranging the thick tresses to create a cluster oflong brown ringlets, which brushed the nape of her neck.
When Madeline had looked in the mirror and seen the beautiful stranger staring back, she forgot she was the awkward, spinster sister of Payton Charles Winthrop the Third. For the first time in her life, Madeline had felt like a princess.
From the other side of the Christmas tree, floated the hushed tones of several women, seated in a few of the many chairs placed around the perimeter of the ballroom.
Madeline glanced down at the shimmering blue fabric of her beautiful new ball gown and smiled, imagining what James would think when he saw her. He would bow and kiss her hand, then with his charming Irish accent he would say, “Will ye honor me with this waltz?”
With a graceful swish of fabric, she would take his arm and let him escort her into the center of the room. A hush would fall over the crowd as all eyes turned their way. The Cabots and Lowells would whisper behind their fans, wondering who this
stunning couple was. Gradually the other dancers would move toward the walls until she and James were left to float across the parquet floor in a world that only existed for two. Closing her eyes, she swayed dreamily beside the tree, as the music flowed through her body.
Do you bake for the holidays? What is your favorite food to give away as a gift? What is your favorite food to receive as a gift.
Happy Holidays!Kathy Otten
ANOTHER WALTZ NEW RELEASE (Victorian Holiday Novella)
BUY IT HERE.
BUY IT HERE.