"In this strange season when we are suspended between realization and expectation, may we be found honest about darkness, more perceptive of the light." (Jack Boozer, quoted in Night Visions by Jan Richardson)
Last night I delivered my last Christmas gifts: these cute star-shaped boxes that I decorated and filled with my famous homemade toffee (recipe to follow). These were paper mache boxes I bought on clearance years ago and swore I would decorate and use this year. So I spray painted them silver and stamped them with swirls, stars, and the word "believe" in blue and sparkly silver, then glued on blue ribbon the side of the lids. My favorite part was the packaging: I wrapped them in bridal illusion tulle. Pretty, aren't they?
Even though I have the flu or strep or some sort of throat infection, I went out with my girlfriends last night, because Virginia was in town from California and I only get to see her once a year. (That's me with her at left. She is beautiful, I think.) She's strugging with whether or not to break off her engagement, so she needed some quality time with our former women's group. Lourdes, Suzanne and Staci also made it to Caro Mio, a great Italian restaurant near my house.
The toffee recipe is from my mom, but I've become the family toffee maker. I probably do at least 6 or 8 batches a year, and everyone from my work has come to expect it every Christmas. People are always impressed, but it's really very easy. You just need a candy thermometer.
2 sticks of butter, unsalted
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Karo white corn syrup
3 Tbsp. water.
Melt butter on medium heat in saucepain. Add sugar, corn syrup and water. Stir and cook on medium heat until it reaches 300 degrees on candy thermometer. Watch very carefully and stir constantly after 280 degrees. Immediately revmove from heat and pour onto cookie sheets; tilt to make as thin as possible. Let sit for a few minutes till solid, but not cool, then top with chocolate chips. When they melt, spread chocolate. Add chopped nuts, if desired. (I usually don't do nuts because so many people are allergic or don't like them.) Let cool overnight or for several hours. Break into pieces.
The trick is not to cook it past 300 or it's too hard, or not to undercook it or it's crumbly. Every couple years someone in our family claims to get the "toffee curse" and it won't turn out. One year I accidentally used salt instead of sugar. Usually the culprit is an inaccurate candy thermometer.
Finally, a meme from the Sew Mad blog (whose book happened to be in German!). I don't usually do these, but this was kind of interesting and weird:
1. Grab the book closest to you.
2. Open to page 123, go down to the fifth sentence.
3. Post the text of next 3 sentences on your blog.
4. Name of the book and the author.
5. Tag three people
Here it is: "You already taste the way things must be. The other thing that made Mrs. Sen happy was fish from the seaside. It was always a whole fish she desired, not shelfish, or the fillets Eliot's mother had broiled one night a few months ago when she'd invited a man from her office to dinner--the man who'd spent the night in his mother's bedroom, but whom Eliot never saw again." (Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri)
Consider yourself tagged.