Sunday, December 18, 2005

I don't do cookies, I don't do fudge. I don't do divinity or fruitcake either. What I do is this wonderfully fabulous cooked mass of sugar and butter known as toffee. My friend calls me "The Queen of Almond Roca. " I have been making this for a long time and have nearly perfected my skills. This was not always the case. I have thrown out a few batches of inedible sugar rocks.

This all began in Grand Junction Colorado with Enstrom's Toffee. Years ago, Mr. Enstrom himself taught people how to make his special candy. One of my friends, Yuba Vaughn had taken his class and made toffee every year. One special Christmas she invited me over to learn this Grand Junction tradition.

You begin with the right pan. It has to be rather heavy to distribute heat and it has to have tall sides, boiling sugar expands. A small pressure cooker makes a perfect pan. Put two and a quarter cups of sugar in the pan and a cup of water. Yuba measured the water in the same cup as the sugar. I know, dry measurement and liquid are different, but I don't fool with the wise ones, I use the same cup. Put a loose lid on the pan and set it on high heat for 8 minutes. Use this time to assemble the rest of your stuff.

You need a long handled wooden spoon. Long handled is crucial. Too short and the hot sugar leaves scars. Set an 11 by 17 pan on a protected surface. This size pan is basically a cookie sheet with sides. I have one a little smaller that I use, too, but 9 by 13 is too small.
Unwrap a pound of room temperature butter, not the other stuff, real butter. In Grand Junction there was even a specific brand. She never mentioned Salted or Unsalted. I think I use salted. Measure 2 cups of almonds into a bowl.
Are you ready? is the 8 minutes up? When the time is up dip the spoon into the syrup raise it out of the liquid and see if it makes a thread. As the goo drips off the spoon it will spin about a 2-inch thread then it is ready. Until then, keep boiling. I just stand there and keep checking for a thread.

Now it is time to add the butter. Stir constantly and add 1 cube at a time. Each cube melts before the next is added, keep stirring.
When the butter is all in and melted slowly add the almonds. (Dumping all the butter or all the almonds in at once will cool the boiling syrup too much, be patient.) Save about a quarter cup of almonds to sprinkle on top.
Continue to cook and stir until a deep rich caramel color develops. Just as it begins to smell like it is burning is the time to pour it into the 11 by 17 pan. I run water into my empty cooking pan and set it back on the stove (turned off), it is quite hot. Use your spoon to distribute the candy evenly in the pan. Then take it outside and set it on the snow…really, it needs to cool down. It is important to make toffee when it is cool and humidity is low. Cool about 3 minutes and come back in the house. Put 1 ¾ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips on the toffee. They will melt; spread the chocolate evenly. Finely chop the remainder of the almonds and sprinkle over the chocolate.. Let cool completely.

Break it up and enjoy.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Plaid Project

I shipped these chairs back to their home in Montana this week. I spent several days recovering them and getting all the stripes to match.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Saturday, Driftwood and Roses sang at the Buffalo Bill museum in Cody. After we sang we stood in line with the 2 and 3 year olds for a photo with Santa.
Later we joined the rest of Yellowstone Harmony and sang at the long term care center, an independent living facility and then back to the museum. Every year at this time the Buffalo Bill museum has a free day with lots of local entertainment.
This coming Saturday we will sing in Powell at the nursing home and an independant living center. Driftwood and Roses sings again Sunday for a birthday and after Christmas we are booked for the Radiology department's holiday party.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

It is just time to change, actually it has been time to change for a while, I just don't seen to have anything better to change to.
Tis the season of:

craft shows
Sewing projects
finding the decorations
Comfort and Joy tea
movies at the theater
Christmas programs
Hot chocolate
finding old friends

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Saturday I traveled to Lander Wyoming with a group of friends to sing at the Wyoming State Training School. Fifteen of us from Yellowstone Harmony made the trip. Driftwood and Roses, a septet comprised of chorus members is pictured here. We are posed in front of the stained-glass window of the chapel where we performed.
We did two performances, the first for about 75 very lively audience members, there were only about 25 there for the second time around.
Lander is 4 hours from home, so we had a lot of bonding time in the car. We used some of that time to rehearse our new Christmas music. I wonder if Jason listens to "Leroy the Redneck Reindeer"?
Our next performance is a live radio broadcast on a local show, Comfort Food. We have two patriotic numbers ready to sing.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A friend and I took a Community Education class last week and learned how to make balloon animals.
We had a lot of fun. This is our first effort (it is a dog).

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Whew, I am coming off long trip and a busy day.
The trip was great, we visited The Hill house in Denver. I will get some photos up one of these days.
Today started out with a flat tire. Bummer. It was on my husband's car, but he had to leave and travel 20 miles to work. I could find other transportation so he took my car.

My friend came to pick me up for our Love and Logic presentation to MOPS (Mothers of preschoolers). I introduced us as MOGUKS. Mothers of grown up kids. My friend and I did an hour program, and it seemed to be very well recieved. She was my ride to work afterward.

I finished upholstering a chair that had been last week's project, nothing like starting your week a day late and a project behind! My boss said I could use her pick-up to get home. The transportation thing is working out.

A friend dropped by work to visit, a strong college guy. I invited him to lunch, and for a box of chicken he jacked up the car and twisted off lug nuts. There was a broken box-cutter blade in the tire treads. Unusual way to get a flat?!?

I dropped the tire off on the way back to work. It was finished when I came home, I still have the pickup. I left the tire by the car and ate the last piece of chicken before leaving for singing practice. Fortunately I am in a car pool.

Yellowstone Harmony, the women's barbershop group I sing with has a performance Saturday so we were on the risers going over all the songs. Home again by 10.

Tomorrow should be easy.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Forget about frost on the pumpkin, we know summer is over when the snow is on the lawn chairs. This happened the first week of October. It didn't bring a hard freeze so we still have blooming flowers. Saturday we plan to blow out the sprinkler system and drain the pump, that freeze will be here soon.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

It didn't happen, our Love and Logic class was cancelled. No one signed up. That is a first, but just as well. I am going to try to get into a class next Thursday...Making balloon animals. Now doesn't that sound like a blast. Hope I can actually get in, deadline for enrollment has passed.
Second grandson came early. Adam Todd was born to Blake and Kim on Thursday, Oct 13 at 12:35. Everyone is doing well. They went home Saturday.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I add a couple things to my schedule this week. On Thursday a friend and I begin a Community education class. We have been doing these for a couple years now. Our class is "Becoming a Love and Logic Parent This site has several articles to read if you click on the "article" tab. We have had classes with as many as 12 people and as few as 3. We present the same material, but each class is different. We get together Wednesday after church supper to go over our material. Our class runs for 6 weeks.
I am already busy with Yellowstone Harmony on Tuesday evenings. We are adding a couple Christmas songs to our repertoire. That will be great fun.
Some time during the week I work on sewing projects. I have cut back on what I let people bring to me, but I have several long-time clients that come regularly. I finished the last of those projects Yesterday!! Now on to Christmas sewing, the fun stuff.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Winter has descended upon us. We are having a blizzard, not the Dairy Queen kind!
Our area is supposed to get 3 to 6 inches of snow. I had to go to Cody tonight for singing and we drove back in lousy conditions.
This is messing up beet harvest, it rained yesterday and the fields are already quite muddy.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Summer is over, we brought the tomatoes in this afternoon. They are all separated, the red and turning ones are in a bucket. The green are in storage boxes in the cold room downstairs. My goal is to have ripened tomatoes for Thanksgiving dinner; it worked last year. If I get ambitious in the next day or two I will chop them with the jalapeƱos we picked and make salsa.

Monday, September 12, 2005