Friday, January 30, 2009

Espresso Peanut Brittle For A Winter Afternoon

So often when a loved one departs, they take with them secret knowledge. When my father passed away along with him went the peanut brittle recipe. My niece, the last eye witness, claimed she saw him add Sanka brand decaffeinated coffee. Consequently the peanut brittle recipe has become the subject of family debate, no one is quite sure if the coffee was added or not. Now, I have an idea that coffee really was a part of dad’s recipe. Today Dieter made an espresso peanut brittle. Wondering about the mystery of the Sanka, he poured a fresh brewed cup of morning espresso into the recipe to see how it would taste. Of the three peanut brittle flavors he made today; plain, coconut and coffee, the coffee flavored was best.

Dieter’s Espresso Peanut Brittle:
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup fresh brewed espresso
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
Combine sugar, corn syrup, salt, and espresso in 3 quart medium or heavy weight sauce pan. Cook and stir until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to boil. Add butter. Stir constantly until the recipe reaches 280 degrees. Add peanuts and continue to stir, the mixture will become thick, rapid stirring is essential, to prevent scorching. When the reaches 305 degrees, remove from heat and quickly stir in baking soda, mixing thoroughly. Immediately pour and spread with spoon onto two sheet pans lined with parchment. As the mixture cools, begin stretching by lifting and pulling from edges. Use a spatula to lift the edges. The mixture is hot! Cool and break it into pieces. Makes 2-1/2 pounds.

One of the recipes Dieter referenced was Jimmy Carter’s favorite peanut brittle from “The Peanut Cookbook”. I was delighted to see the cover illustration was done by Edward Gorey. Thank you Dorothy C. Frank for including this presidential gem. (Published by Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. / 1976)

Jimmy Carter’s favorite Peanut Brittle:
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup white corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 cups raw peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Boil the sugar, water, and syrup until it spins a thread. Add peanuts and stir continuously until syrup turns golden brown. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Stir until butter melts.

Pour up on two cookie sheets with sides. As mixture begins to harden around edges, pull until thin.

A recipe for peanut brittle is described alongside a discussion of the beginning of the menstrual period in this Lydia E. Pinkham's pamphlet from the late 1800’s.

Pamphlets like this one, provided useful recipes interspersed with product testimonials and recommendations, a useful booklet not likely to be thrown away. This advertising format seems have morphed into our current day infomercial. Lydia E. Pinkham's was a vegetable compound, “Blood Medicine” given for just about everything. Here it is suggested to help every month for weakness during menstrual periods. “Many a woman has suffered years of misery because as a girl she was allowed to sit around with wet feet, lift heavy articles, overwork and over study. If any girl at that time suffers from pain or other disturbances Lydia E.Pinkham's Vegetable Compound should be given.

We all know the benefit of veggies but believe me when I tell you a hefty dose of espresso peanut brittle will wash away your winter blues, amen!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

D I Y Coffee Roasting

Extreme DIY coffee roasters from Sweet Maria’s home coffee roasting supplies.

We pulled our old dusty coffee roaster out of storage with the intent of roasting our own coffee again after a couple of years of buying commercial coffee. After the first roast, I asked myself why did we ever stop home roasting? With the help of Sweet Maria’s and roasting our own beans, we are drinking coffee that puts all trendy wifi coffee houses to shame. We roasted a bag of green Ethiopian Organic DP Bonko “Black Sun” coffee beans. What a wonderful fruity flavor that I have not experienced in any commercially available coffee. Sweet Maria’s provides more information on green coffee beans and home roasting than anything imaginable. Plus it is a bonus to support fair trade and organic coffee growers.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Retro Anthropomorphic Valentines

Having tea and a happy hotdog are two things you should consider this Valentines day. Our anthropomorphic collection grows.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Atomic Coffee

We were at a friend's last night and spotted a strange looking object on top of the fridge. It is an espresso maker called the “Atomic”. He bought this in New York in the 1986 and paid an entire $120.00. Now that was pricey then. He said he used to take it camping all the time. He is a lucky guy. After looking around the internet, I found this coffee pot is much sought after and loved throughout the world. An updated version is going to be released out of Australia called the “Otto”priced at $595.00. Another Italian version is available called “La Sorrentina” designed in the late 1940's. This one is available for $450.00. Versions made cira 1940 of the “Atomic” are selling for up to $800.00. We love this coffee maker.