Sunday, December 5, 2010

PEANUT BRITTLE

On Wednesday night before Christmas a big bobsled load of us – nineteen in all and with a four-horse team – went up to the old schoolhouse to the school program and tree. It was lots of fun and I believe the last I went to was when . . .  I was in the program myself back in 1923! I got a great kick out of watching these various kids perform and make mistakes and more fun still to see them eating candy and popcorn balls up front while the tree was being ‘had.’ Shirley Dobson, January 2, 1933

Mike loves peanut brittle and will sometimes come home from the Dollar Tree with a box of the commercial stuff. "They sure don't put many peanuts in this brittle," he noted. I made a mental note to make some for him.

Our Grandma Bennie, Mike's mother, sent us a lovely box of Christmas gifts and goodies every year, and she would include a large coffee can or plastic sack of her homemade peanut brittle. Somehow the peanut brittle always disappeared, and I knew Mike was hiding it someplace for his own surreptitious consumption.

"Mo-om!" came the voice of a little whiner one year, "the peanut brittle Grandma Bennie sent to our family is in the bottom drawer of Dad's desk." I didn't say anything to Mike. After all, I'm sure Bennie sent peanut brittle because she knew her son's fondness for it. We had plenty of other treats for the children to devour. Here's Bennie's recipe for PEANUT BRITTLE:
2 c white sugar
1/2 c water
1 c white Karo
3 c raw peanuts
3 tsp oleo or butter
2 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Butter two cookie sheets. In a "heavy boiler," cook sugar, water and Karo slowly to 240 on candy thermometer -- about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add peanuts and stir continuously until brownish gold and thread spins [295 on candy thermometer -- about 15 minutes]. Watch carefully so mixture doesn't burn. Take from fire and stir in butter until melted. Add salt, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir quickly! Pour mixture evenly onto prepared pans. When completely cooled, break apart. Store in covered container.

I admit to editing Bennie's recipe so that the directions are clearer. Recipes abound everywhere but the basic proportions seem to be the same. Some use raw peanuts and add salt to the mixture. Some use salted peanuts and omit the salt.

Some people use a microwave recipe, but I have misplaced mine. I remember an evening conversation with Aunt Chris years ago, in which she mentioned she was about to make peanut brittle. "Isn't that complicated," I asked. She read me her microwave recipe and finished by asking, "What could be simpler?"

"Peanut brittle," noted the cashier as three packages of 10 for a dollar raw peanuts slid over the scanner in my order.

By the way, Bennie, now 96, lives in an assisted care center in Memphis under the watchful eye of Mike's sister, Carol. 

[The card above is just a simple picture on card stock (flat, does not open) and was sent to my dad by his sister, Shirley, in 1946. I am fascinated by the figure carrying the tree. I suppose it's a man, but I see a woman. What do you think? Remember -- this card might have been designed during World War II. It's an interesting presentation at any rate.] KW

10 comments:

debdog42 said...

I love to make peanut brittle too and was glad when microwave recipes came out. What I haven't made for years is popcorn balls and have wanted one for months!!!

Hallie said...

I see a woman, too. I'm certain she's wearing a skirt (why would a man have bare legs?) and I believe her hair is in a bob under that hat. She definitely has amazing calves--they rival any man's.

Kathy said...

I just finished making a batch of peanut brittle according to Bennie's recipe. I used a candy thermometer and was careful to stir. It's not as foamy as I would have liked. (Someone here will eat it.)

I think the figure's garb is as a medieval peasant -- a tunic over leggings. But the shoes, the hat, the hair and something about the stance are feminine. It's a different card. I wonder if it was European.

I wondered what recipe to pursue next. Popcorn here we come!

Chuck said...

I can see Hallie bringing home the tree. I, too, love peanut brittle, and get much too little of it. Perhaps somewhere, somehow, during this Christmas season. Hope all goes well with your Christmas plans.

Chris said...

Wow! I had forgotten I used to make peanut brittle. Probably because now that the kids are grown, I'm the only one who eats it and it has an unfortunate effect on my body. It causes it to grow!! Out! :-) But you know, I think I just might make some this year. I just found my recipe. Hmm...

Chris said...

Oh, and I forgot to say I think the person on the card is a woman, too.

Hallie said...

Would I get a tree by myself? Quite possibly. Could I do it on ice skates and in medieval peasant garb??? THAT is the question. :)

Leah said...

Love love love the old cards. Thanks for posting them so that we can open them to their wonderful full size. I think the figure is a man. In the time period this was printed, women (in the U.S. or Europe) mostly wore skirts and if they did wear pants outdoors, they would never never have them clinging to the body like this figure. Keep the cards coming.

Kathy said...

I'm convinced that "super-daughter" Hallie can do anything she sets her mind to. But that figure isn't wearing skates -- is definitely walking. Leah is probably right that it's supposed to be a man, but the face is delicate and feminine. I wish I knew more about the origin of this card. I think there might be a European influence here, and with the war and the absence of men at home, women everywhere were doing heavier work.

Hallie said...

Oh, ha! I saw skates on the figure--partly due to the posture. Well, if that's the case, yes, I could get that tree--no problem! ;P