Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Old-Fashioned Hard Candy

Another Christmas-time creation, another moment of nostalgia for me. 
DS7_8141 Twelve years ago, when my husband and I bought our house, my neighbor brought me some home-made hard candy at Christmas.  I had one of those moments where you you feel like your life is rewinding at a high rate of speed.  Everything around me went blurry. I probably went a little slack-jawed as I whooshed (yes, that's a word in my house) back to when I was about seven years old.  I was at my great-aunt Garn's house.  (Maybe it was Jane's? or Sal's?  My grandmother had a lot of sisters.)  I remember being there with lots of cousins that I didn't really know, but we were of course expected to play together nicely, and not be too loud, and for God's sake, don't knock over the damn houseplants.  I remember it being late, and being tired, but my mom and gram were not done visiting yet.

 Then I discovered Garn's candy jar.  It was filled with these beautiful, colorful, irregularly-shaped candies.  They reminded me of pieces of stained glass, except more delicious and digestable.  In my mind, I was in a dark room, with white Christmas lights in the background that made the candy sparkle.  Made the candy irresistable.  And I snuck piece after piece, licking the powdered sugar off of my fingers so as to hide the evidence.

Going back to my neighbor: she is a dear woman, and after I had a complete spaz attack because I hadn't seen that candy in 20 years and I was so excited, she agreed to teach me how to make it.  And now I share that knowledge with you. 

Old-Fashioned Hard Candy

  • 2 C. Sugar
  • 1 C. Water
  • 3/4 C. light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. flavor oil (I use LorAnn)
  • food coloring
  • powdered sugar
DS7_8153DS7_8143Combine sugar, water and corn syrup in a 2 quart heavy saucepan.  Stir until sugar is dissolved, then cook without stirring.  Once it is boiling well, lower heat and cook more slowly to 300 degrees (hard crack stage.)  While it is cooking grease (with margarine) a cookie sheet and cover with powdered sugar.  Once it hits 300 degrees, remove pan from heat.  Add food coloring and oil flavoring.  Stir well and pour onto cookie sheet..  Sprinkle more powdered sugar on top.  Allow to cool a bit and then cut with kitchen shears or break apart with your fingers.

Word of not put your face too close to the mixture as you are pouring in the flavor.  Not that my sister ever did that while making the hot cinnamon flavor, nor did she burn her face.  Nope.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Perfection in a Cookie

tootsThere is nothing that brings memories of my Grandma Toots rushing back more than baking her orange cookies.  Well, maybe the mixed up telling of an off-color joke, but that’s just not very grandmotherly, now is it?  (Sorry, Toots!) She would gush about these cookies and how pretty they are.  Also, she was proud of how well they freeze.  I’ve never frozen them.  My husband makes sure they find a good home.
Orange Rind
Anyway, as a kid, I remember going to see her in the summer and she’d have a plate of orange cookies out.  And I, being the picky little turd that I was, refused to eat them because of the orange rind.  I was, quite obviously, deranged.

As I got older, and less of a spaz about food texture, I realized how yummy they are.  And then when I got even older, married and had my son, I decided I needed to start baking them.  Gram sent me the recipe and I still have it in my recipe box, in her handwriting, full of warnings and admonitions.  DON’T LET THEM GET TOO BROWN.

There were several Christmases when she was able to help me bake them.  She hovered over me, like a disapproving school marm, critiquing the size and color of the cookies and the consistency of my frosting.  Gram passed away a few years ago, but I still hear her when I make them.  I now use a handy little cookie scoop to keep the size and shape more consistent.  I may let my frosting get a little too runny.  But I never, ever let them get too brown. 

Grandma Toots’ Orange Cookies (Toots is like foot, not boot.)

·         2 C. sugar
·         2 eggs
·         1 C. buttermilk or sour cream
·         1 C. Crisco
·         2 medium oranges
·         2 tsp. baking powder
·         1 tsp. baking soda
·         Dash of salt
·         4 ½ C. flour, sifted

Grate rind of oranges.  Set aside 1 tbsp. for frosting.  Juice oranges and set juice aside.  Mix sugar and Crisco (beat well.) Add eggs, orange juice and rind, beat well.  Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda together and add to mixture, alternating with sour cream (or buttermilk.)  Drop by teaspoon on greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.  Makes 7-8 dozen.  Don’t let the cookies get too brown! 

Ready to Bake

Fresh from the oven

Frost with Ornamental Frosting
Ornamental Frosting

·         ¼ C. Margarine, softened
·         4 C. sifted powdered sugar
·         2 egg whites
·         1 tsp. vanilla
·         ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
·         1-2 tsp. milk
·         Orange rind

Mix margarine and sugar.  Beat well.  Add unbeaten egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar.  Beat thoroughly.  Add milk and beat until it is of spreading consistency.  Mix in orange rind.

Frost.  Try not to lick your fingers.  Or lick them and keep it a secret.  It's your call.  Enjoy!
My Grandma's Orange Cookies

Thursday, December 1, 2011

10 Things about Breaking Dawn

Beware: There be Spoilers.
1. It's entirely unfair that this didn't come out when I was 15. I could have enjoyed it guilt-free.
2. The CGI seemed much improved. I wanted to pet the wolves.
3. Why weren't the vampires all sparkly at the wedding?
4. How in the hell did no one notice that Emmitt looked like he had clown make-up on? He was only pasty on the face. It was very distracting.
5. Jasper still reminds me of a wooden dummy.
6. The entire wolf-growling-human-voiceover Jacob-decides-to-be-alpha scene was so awful and cringe-worthy that the only words I have for it are not appropriate. And I use lots of inappropriate words.
7. C-section via fang? Wow. I covered my eyes. "Look, there's my baby-daddy covered in my blood because he just gnawed our daughter out of my womb." What a precious family moment.
8. PG-13? I swear I've seen more skin on network tv. Not that I would take my kids to see it.
9. Overheard in the theater: why is he (Jacob) wearing his shirt all of the time? I wonder just how creeped out Taylor Lautner is knowing how many 30-something women just want to see him shirtless. At least he is over 18 now!
10. It was an overly-dramatic, cheeseball pile of puke. And I loved it.