Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake - you can’t learn anything from being perfect…

I am sure there are a good many three of you (Hi, kids!) who think I am perfect. I wish it were so. I honestly do. But really, how fun would that be?

If I were perfect, I wouldn’t have to explain this:

what the hell?

I would spend the morning showing you all kinds of wonderful things, like perfectly shaped Christmas wreaths, of which we hung many.


Oh, and I would tell you about the fabulously fried turkey we had for dinner. The one that did not burn down the house, as my cynical inner voice predicted.

I might even have shared with you the secret to the best homemade gravy ever.



  The secret is teamwork and tarragon.





Because most of you are dog lovers, I would have told you all about the two Norwegian Elkhounds who live at Daddy’s house. I would tell you how they are named after Norse gods, Bjorn and Freya. And then I would tell you that Freya likes peanuts, but not scrambled eggs.

But no. You don’t want to hear all about the wonderfulness that is going on at Daddy’s house. You want to know what the hell happened in the kitchen!

Well, it started innocently enough. I was going to learn how to make peanut brittle. I am mostly a cookie baker, but when Daddy suggested peanut brittle,  I thought how hard can it be? (I swear, these words will kill me someday)

We did all the preparations. Actually, since I was the student, I just took the pictures. First you have to butter your pan, so your brittle won’t stick. Then you get your syrup and peanuts to boiling on the stove, making sure you have your candy thermometer. You really need to know the temperature of the brittle before you take it off the stove.

When you take it off the stove, wondering if it’s supposed to smell like burnt marshmallows, you add the baking soda and stir, stir, stir. Because the baking soda makes it explode bubble up, you have to stirstirstirstir to keep it from overflowing the pot. At that point, you’re supposed to pour it into the buttered pan. This is not a good time to remember that you doubled the batch, and buttered only one cookie sheet.


I jumped in to hold the pot while another cookie sheet was being prepped, but really, there was nothing I could do. The little bit that was in the cookie sheet kept doubling, tripling, quadrupling, gazilliontupling  in size. I could only stand there and watch it happen and pray like mad this wasn’t the “good” cookie sheet. It was like watching a train wreck.

I am thankful that ORMom came through before we even got started and moved the cookie sheet to the cutting board, mumbling something about not pouring that stuff over the counter. Good thinking!

By the time I was able to take these pictures, the brittle had finally stopped expanding and bubbling like a flow of lava from a bad horror film and had pretty much hardened into burnt concrete.

In my infinite wisdom, I would have chucked it all into the trash, cutting board and all, made a cocktail and called it a day. But Daddy actually managed to get all of it cleaned off. I’m in awe.

We’ve analyzed several different theories for  the bizarre reaction of the peanut brittle. We think we may have cooked it too long, bringing it up to a higher temperature than what it said on the recipe that nobody really looked at - hence the burnt marshmallow smell and blackened color. Or it could be the work of angry gods. Who knows?

So there you go people, I am not perfect. Not all of my recipes turn out flawlessly, as I would have you believe.

I am not going to let this get me down. In fact, it has spurred me into action. I am going to make perfect peanut brittle, dammit!   Just not in MY kitchen!

Hey, Wow? you up for a visit from your perfect daughter?


  1. Great story, Martha... er, Dawn. Nice to see the dark side from time to time. Makes me realize that you are just as human as I am! :)

  2. Hey Dawn's Dad - you rock it in the kitchen! You do too, Dawn, you won't let a little brittle get you down!

  3. Oh man, i can only imagine the peanut brittle that wouldn't stop. Kinda like The Blob!

  4. Anyone remember the I Love Lucy episode with the bread in the oven? I think I was just getting too impatient in getting the sugar up to temperature. More heat gets it there faster, right?

    It's good to have a disaster in the kitchen every once in awhile to keep you humble...

  5. From: WoW
    Oh no no no! I adore my darling little kitchen. There is no way in Heaven YOU are getting near it with a batch of Peanut Brittle!!!!!

  6. As the queen of kitchen miscalculations, I welcome you to my kingdom.

  7. Wow, that's... a mess. Good to know you're not infallible. And now I need to go get some peanut brittle, because the cravings have descended. Have a good turkey day!!

  8. When we come out at Christmas Mom will have to help you make the peanut brittle, She alwats made the peanut coconut brittle that is really good ,Huh CGMAN.

  9. Might be awhile before I try that one. By the time the brittle expands and fills the kitchen, the volunteer fire department will still be fishing.

  10. This would never happen to the Pioneer Woman. That's why you are my friend and not her.


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