savoring each bite

All parents have days like mine have been… wild, upset, or mischievous children changing the course of the day in a single moment, adding more work to the day, causing tempers to flare, bouncing between sweet and loving to rowdy and rude. Add that to the regular routine and it has felt like a juggling act for days around here – clean a dirty kitchen, answer demands or pleas for snacks, start the washer, change a diaper (3 poops or more a day!), mend a split lip (two different days this week!), switch clothing to the dryer, respond to important and unimportant emails, shovel snow so the mailman can walk to the door, mail packages, make phone calls, do a complicated craft, play a game, cook dinner, remove a child from a tabletop, remove a child from the cactus, remove a child from the toilet, and so on. Oh, and maybe squeak in a cup of tea and a dash to the bathroom for me, but only if there is time! Today, stuck home from exercising because of snow, the day went according to the same ‘plan’ as days passed – busy, with little actually getting accomplished.

But I threw in something extra today… I discovered a great recipe for butter toffee. As I often do, I told myself to make it anther day. But after an hour that felt like a day, I was really ready to make toffee. Well, to be honest, just eat toffee. But I did all my other work and fun first while Oliver napped and then started the sugar and butter boiling about the moment Oliver was waking up. As the candy thermometer refused to climb at a satisfactory rate, I was forced to let Elliott get Oliver out of his room. “Release the hound!” From my kitchen post, I shouted commands like “Don’t knock him over. I cannot help him right now” or “Elliott, find something to distract him, quick!” And so well over a half hour went by. (Was it even this long? It felt like much, much longer,) I stirred and stirred and the temperature went up ever so slow. The whole time I imagined all the scenarios of awful things unfolding in other rooms, out of sight… and what would absolutely require me to leave the stove. The closer I got to the end and I could smell my toffee, I realized very little could force me to leave that stove! Broken toys and gashed lips would require that someone toddle to me for a hug.

As I neared the final golden 298 degrees, I was just delighted to learn that my candy thermometer was not accurate. Quickly, I changed to a digital thermometer, got it off the stove, and added vanilla. But, in desperation to get a second silicone mat that I really did need, I plopped the hot pan onto another one. It added a nice film to my pot and totally ruined the cutting mat. I finally got it all spread, left it to cool on the mats, left a mess in the kitchen, and checked on my two little ones, who just happened to be playing peacefully in the back. Phew!

Thinking I could move onto the next step, I started melting chocolate, chopping nuts, and grinding sea salt. Since I had far less quality chocolate than needed, I was doing my melting in three stages – great, good, and so-so chocolate. The first one, quality dark baking chocolate, was easy and done in a flash, spread and coated with nuts and sea salt. The second, quality white baking chips, scorched in the pot and then burnt in the microwave – a total waste. The third, cheap milk chocolate chips, never even melted, just globbed in the bowl – more waste. In just another half hour, I had stunk up the kitchen, dirtied a good dozen pots and utensils, and had to contend with burnt on goop on more than one pot. Oh, and I needed to pay what little attention I could spare to children as questions were asked, tears shed, and hands reached for the stove.

But (yes, there is a but), at this point, I could snap off little (or big) pieces of toffee to sustain me. And, Elliott left me alone for a whole five minutes once he negotiated “one, maybe two, uh, maybe three” pieces of toffee from me. And, AND, I feed Oliver leftover chocolate chips while I cleaned up. So while it was utter chaos and stressful, my boys could survive a few minutes without me and we all got some tasty toffee or treats to make the rest of the day go better.

Now, go make some toffee and make Friday super sweet!

* And you may wonder where all the wonderful pictures are of the lovely toffee and the lovely mess. But in the rush of it all, I could not even leave the stove for the camera. And once I remembered the camera when I got to my big toffee sheets, I realized Pioneer Woman’s images would be far lovelier and looked a lot like my sweet treat anyways. Although, I did not do double sides as she did since I was short of chocolate.

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1 Comment

  1. kloppenmum said,

    December 16, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    I love the cactus bit…that explains why we don’t have any. And that toffee sounds heavenly.


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