Tuesday, December 18, 2007

C-A-N-D-Y

Every year, for the past few years, my sisters-in-law and I have gathered together before Christmas to make candy. It's one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

Saturday morning, at the crack of dawn (9 am), Rachel, Audree, and I gathered at Audree's to continue the tradition. Acutally, I was late because I decided to shower before heading out, so I didn't get there 'til 9:15, but that's irrelevant. I was pleasantly surprised that my mother had decided to go, too, since we invite her every year, but she has never joined us. She says she doesn't like making candy. It was nice to chat with her while we made candy, and she helped us A LOT by helping form the centers of one of the candies and especially by periodically washing our pots and pans for us. After she left, we had to interrupt our candy making to wash dishes, and it was such a pain. So...THANKS, MOM! I hope you come again next year!

This year, we decided that each of us should just make two items and make lots of those two items. It worked out so much better than previous years. For example: last year we started at noon and ended after 9 pm, and Rachel and I didn't stay to help Audree clean up (she sent us home and cleaned up by herself the next day). In comparison, this time, we started around 9:30 am (once we got everything ready to go) and finished around 5:30 pm, AND we helped Audree clean up. Much, much better. We made:

Almond joys (Mom helped form these centers)
Peanut butter "cups"
Peanut brittle
Chocolate covered pretzels
Fudge
Divinity

I made the divinity. Years and years ago, when I first began to get into cooking (while living in SLC), I decided to try making divinity. Aly, were you living with me when I made my first ever batch? It was horrible. I used a hand mixer and thought it couldn't possibly need to be mixed this long! It did, and even longer. The divinity ended up settling into little mud puddles instead of being yummy cloud puffs. To make things worse, my roommate's cat, Mickey, got on the counter over night and stepped in the divinity, and we awoke to divinity paw prints throughout the apartment. The next time I attempted divinity, I over-beat the mixture and it was dry and crumbly. Thankfully, the third time was the charm, and the divinity was...well... divine. I've been great (humbly) at making it ever since. Don't get me wrong, I still over- or under- beat the mixture on occassion, but when I get it right, I get it really right.

Please forgive the blatant boasting. I have so few things to boast about that I feel a compulsion to boast whenever I can actually get away with it.

Anyhoo, last night I took around plates of candy to my friends. This is my favorite part of candy making. I started a little before 7 pm and made it home a little before 1 am. I chatted with friends I haven't chatted with for awhile and found out that one friend recently broke up with her boyfriend, another friend's husband thinks his wife is beautiful (heart melting), and that no matter how often I see one friend, I still enjoy talking to her 'til the wee hours of the morning.

I have amazing people in my life; it is the blessing for which I am the most grateful. No matter what else happens in life, if you have good people surrounding you, everything will be okay eventually. Yes, I recently watched "It's A Wonderful Life", and I love it every time I see it. I just pray that I can bless the people around me as much as they bless me.

Okay, this is turning a little sappy, so I'm nipping it in the bud. (What an expression!)

May your days and nights be filled to the brim with yummy, miraculously calorie-free candy!

15 comments:

Booklogged said...

What a fun tradition. Good on your mom for showing up. I'm not sure making candy would whistle my train either. Although, eating gets me chugging! (Oh, that was bad!)

I hope I can catch a few hours to do some baking. We are trying to get the family room ready to be carpeted on Thurs. I think we'll do it, too. We'll take a couple hours out to help Kristi tie a quilt. By we, I mean Myke is going to help tie the quilt.

Friday and Sat. we'll need to move furniture in from the carport and arrange it. Our computers will go in their rightful places and the dining table will be free for hosting dinners.

I'd like to know how to make almond joys and peanut butter cups and how you make your choco-covered pretzels and fudge. I can easily pass on the divinity, unless you made it and it was a good year! Are any of your group planning a trip up north after Christmas Day? Sure hope so.

julie said...

Book, my mom is going up north on Christmas Day, I think. If not then, soon after. Yes, I made the divinity and it was divine - at least three of the four batches were. The fourth batch wasn't horrible, just not perfect. For the almond joy and pb cups recipes, you'll have to ask Audree. For the fudge recipe, ask Rachel. For the pretzels: take a bag of thick pretzel sticks and dip in melted chocolate. I prefer dark chocolate, but any color will do. Brooke helped dip the pretzels and we had a lot of fun.

I hope you get everything ready for the carpet! How exciting. I'm going to go up for a visit once you're finished remodeling and can't wait to see the end result. I bet you can't either!

Tell all your famiy hi from me and give them all my love.

Merry Christmas!

Cardine said...

Aww... thanks. I feel the same way about you. And actually, when my dad saw the divinity last night at about 9:30, I KNOW he was tempted to eat one that late. He didn't, but I could just feel his excitement for it. I expect to go home tonight to find a few missing.

It's awesome that you have this tradition. We don't have a ton of food traditions for Christmas, but one that entails spending time with family sounds great!

The peanut brittle is the only thing I've tried thus far, and it was TASTY. Thank you!

warnser said...

Wow that's impressive!

The Peanut Brittle is very tasty.
Actually I like the Almond Joys, and the... well lets just say that it's
very good.

I was sad that I didn't get to see you when you came, but then you might have been even later.
Ü
Thanks
W

Cassie said...

Nice job!! I've never been a divinity fan, but I'm sure it was great. Those almond joys and pb cups sound good though. I can't wait to see what booklogged's house looks like right now too. I should be able to for our traditional house to house present inspection.

tearese said...

oh oh, did you save any for me? Its okay if you didn't as I don't have any candy for you...but my favorite Christmas tradition is GETTING plates of candy! I would love to take them to people too, but I don't know how, I hate cooking, and I always think of it way to late.

julie said...

Cardine, thanks! I'm glad we enjoy talking so much. And, I hope your dad enjoys the divinity.

Warnser, I was sad that you weren't there, too, but I figured you wouldn't be - what with your crazy busy workload lately. I wouldn't have minded staying up a little later had you been there.

Cassie, you don't like divinity??? Sigh. I guess that's okay. You don't have to like everything I like. :)

Tearese, no I didn't, sorry! I had leftover candy, but I took some to my neighbor and took the rest to work, so my coworkers could help me eat it. Maybe next year???

Alyson said...

Your candy making weekend sounds like a very fun tradition. Cassie came up to have a baking day, but I wasn't really in the baking mood...plus, I don't think my kitchen is big enough. I was going to make nanimo bars for the neighbors, but I still haven't gotten around to it. Oh well, maybe next year.

I absolutely love chocolate covered pretzels!! I think they are one of my favorite indulgences. I try not to indulge too often though.

Cardine said...

What my dad said:

"Whoever made that must have put the perfect amounts of ingredients in and beat it for the perfect amount of time. I don't know that I've ever had divinity that was better than that. It was almost perfect."

He thinks it needs black walnuts in it. :)

And I had a piece, too. It was good, and I don't typically like divinity. I've had one of everything now, and they were all excellent!

Sarah said...

The way I see things... you have a lot to boast about. (I'm glad you don't boast about all of it... it would probably get a little old, but just so you know... I think you're great!)

julie said...

Aly, I have extra pretzels and chocolate chips - when you come down in January, we'll make chocolate-covered pretzels!

Cardine, glad your dad liked the divinity. I will never put nuts in it, though it will always fall short of perfection for him. One of the things I like about divinity is its smoothness, so nuts would kill it, in my humble opinion. :) I'm also glad you like what you ate. I'll pass the info on to my sisters.

Sarah, thanks!! I think you're great, too! And don't worry, I'll try to keep the boasting to my divinity. :)

James & Melissa's Family said...

I just have to say that the Divinity was GREAT! I love it! I love it when I get it from you and I usually eat all of it. True again this year, it's all gone, thanks to me. I really want to try to make it next year. Thanks for stopping by, it was fun to see you at my house with the whole family there. The boys really like to see you and will always know you as Aunt Julie.

Have a Very Merry Christmas and a Great New Year!

julie said...

Melissa, I'm so glad you liked the divinity! Yeah! It was so good to see your kids. I haven't hung out with your family for a long time. You have such a welcoming, comfortable home; I really enjoyed being there! Merry Christmas to you, too!

Cardine said...

Oh yeah, I was not suggesting that you put black walnuts in it, I was just pointing it out. I didn't even know what black walnuts were, but my dad says that they're bitter. Ew.

julie said...

Cardine, your dad isn't the first person to suggest that I put nuts in divinity. My coworker's husband did, too. It's a common ingredient, I guess, but I've never tried it. Hmmm. Maybe I should before I say I wouldn't like it. And, I agree with your dad that black walnuts would be a good choice. I'll consider it. :)