Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Peanut Brittle, a new experience

We knew there would be changes in store for us when we moved!  We changed our address, and our neighbors -- but, of course, not our friends.  We had to change our vehicle when we discovered that a one ton "dually" truck is not ideal for city driving.

We've had to change our eating habits because Mexican restaurants -- especially good ones! -- are few and far between in the middle of Ohio.  And, of course, we've had to make some changes to our wardrobe as winter approaches.  We are already taking advantage of the warm gloves and knit hat we got at Walmart.

But we never dreamed we'd have to make drastic changes in the skills we contribute to our volunteer service. Pulling weeds, caulking windows and painting window frames at the church we knew how to do.  But, the major fund-raising project for our Columbus-area church, is making peanut brittle to sell!

It took us most of our ten years in south Texas to learn how to roll enchiladas, the main ingredient of the fund-raiser at our church in Edcouch,  I think we were getting pretty good at that.  But making peanut brittle required a whole new set of skills from us.  Major changes like that are difficult for us septegenarians to master!  But it was sure fun -- and yummy! -- trying!

The next time you chomp down on a piece of homemade peanut brittle, please appreciate the complicated and exacting process it takes to make it.

It starts with the peanuts, large bags of them!

Then, someone more knowledgeable than we are, mixes the proper amounts of  sugar, syrup and a little water (as in the front skillet above).  And that's where we novices can help: at the entry level of stirring.  When the syrup is just the right color, baking soda and peanuts are added, and the constant stirring continues (as in the skillet at the back).  At this step, it takes someone a little more experienced than we are because with the addition of the peanuts the stirring gets more challenging. 

Again, when the color of the mix gets just right, it must quickly be poured out into a flat, buttered pan (back left), and rapidly be "forked" out as thin as possible with buttered forks (front, right) before it cools and gets set.

Then the pans are set aside to cool thoroughly.  Once cooled, the candy mass is broken up into small, bite-sized pieces which are packed into plastic boxes for sale.

And there, neatly stacked, was one Saturday morning's work.  But there would be at least two more opportunities to practice our newly developed skills!