Mom went back up to Michigan today after spending the weekend with us for the pie party. Jim and Derek went Christmas shopping. I had the house to myself and no distractions. It was the perfect opportunity to try my hand at making peanut brittle. I planned to give it as gifts as part of the homemade Christmas theme this year.
Speaking of homemade, mom knitted these cute corn hot pads. They fit over the handle of a cast iron skillet. She made enough to share them with my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law. Mom's the knitter; I'm the cooker.
Let me just say that candy making is not my thing. This was the first time I've ever actually used Jim's candy thermometer and I certainly have a healthy respect for boiling sugar! I was very cautious at all times during the cooking process. I didn't know that boiling sugar crackles at 300°! The candy took a long time to heat up to that hot but when it was ready I poured it into the heated, prepared pans and was amazed at the way it cooled into an immoveable sheet of peanutty sugary yumminess! I mistakenly grabbed the thermometer too low when I removed it from the pan to pour out the brittle, but fortunately it didn't break when I dropped it on the top of the stove!
Look at this, isn't it something? I made this huge chunk of brittle just for my buddy Chris who is going to quit smoking. When you're craving a smoke there's nothing like a gigantic wafer of caramelized sugar and peanuts to chomp on. Here ya go Chris! Enjoy!
These little bundles of peanut brittle will be given to our UPS and mail carriers as Christmas gifts. I packaged them up in plastic wrap filled with just the right amount to nibble on during the rest of their routes tomorrow.
It's bitterly cold tonight. I just checked the thermometer again and it's now down to 4°. I was out before dinner to feed the ducks and check on them. They seemed to be miserable in the howling, freezing wind and I felt very sorry for them. I enlisted Derek's help in getting them into the chicken coop for the night. He went out to the shop and got a long pole to herd the ducks out of their little swimming hole in the pond. Ducks aren't fond of walking very far and halfway to the chicken coop they stopped and hunkered down, refusing to go any further. So we resorted to picking them up and carrying them the rest of the way to the coop. Picking them up gave me the opportunity to check each of the eight ducks. I'm happy to say that they are all very fat and strong with a dense covering of feathers. At one point, I had a drake under each arm and those boys were heavy! Ducks are extremely well insulated, but I doubt they would have survived the weather tonight.
The chickens were very unhappy about having eight ducks tossed into their coop. They all panicked and scrambled up onto their roosts. Silver glared down at the ducks from above. But he was smart to keep his scrawny butt up on the perch. Murphy's a big, strong drake and probably wouldn't tolerate a rooster bothering him.
Derek is going to let the ducks back outside in the morning. The weather isn't supposed to be nearly so harsh tomorrow. Jim went out to check on them after dinner and said that they were all happily grooming and oiling their feathers. So it seems all the birds are settled in comfortably for the night.
And now, for your viewing pleasure, here are some shots of the winter wonderland that is Twelve Acres.
Ice is still on the trees from the storm that blew through Friday. This is a photo of the fence row trees that are about 700 feet away from the house.
The sun going down.