Sunday, December 21, 2008

Peanut Brittle and Cold Ducks

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.


  1. MMMMMMmmmm homemade peanut brittle! Never thought I'd miss it as much as I do now wearing these darn braces!

    Your ducks look nice and cozy. I've been thinking about getting out the big fishing net and herding mine into a stall. I may have to do that tomorrow....

    I love those corn hot pads what a great idea (too bad I don't knit....):)

    My favorite photo is the one of the fence row trees, beautiful!!

  2. Even with all their protests, I'm sure the ducks were very glad they listened to you and have shelter for this atrocious night. I'm glad it's not going to last long.

    Your peanut brittle looks yummy! This must be brittle day because Laurie at
    posted about bacon brittle and gave out the recipe. I think I'll try it after Christmas!

    Your mom's hot pads are cute! David used to tease me for calling them hot pads which is what I grew up calling them. He tried to convince me that they are pot holders. You say potato, I say po-tah-to!

    Nice pictures, too. They really capture the bitter cold.

  3. Amy, thank you so very much for the brittle.mmmmmmmmmm, sticking to my teeth, that's how ya know it's good. thanks. I thought about catching my ducks to put them up tonight too but they had made other plans it seems. Haven't seen them all day. They did leave another egg this morning though, 6 for 6 now. Boy, it's cold here too, 12 degrees with gusts up to 28 mpg. It'll cut yer ears off. Great pics of the place. Thanks again for all you support!


  4. Brrrr.

    What a lovely collection of things today.

    I am very intrigued by the pan handlers. If I can't find a recipe for them some where can come and bug you about connecting me to a recipe some where!?

  5. Lanny, you certainly can come and bug me. Just let me know what you'd like and I'll be happy to oblige you.

  6. As usual I leave your blog hungry, had to get the bag of pretzles open...lovely brittle congrats! I LOVED the pics!
    I dont know if you rec my other message for your email addy so I could add you back to my blog I went private, long email is

  7. Your peanut brittle looks good. I made it a few years back and my Dad loved it. I feel bad for the animals too. Barn or no barn it has been brisk. Our pigs remain out but they have a shelter with filled warm decomposing hay.
    Our chicken have not been happy with the cold either the last couple days we only got 6 eggs.

  8. Rae, sorry to give you the munchies! I can't get outside much right now because of the weather, so I've been cooking up all kinds of goodies. I'm going to gain 50 pounds if I don't stop!

    Kim, I wish I'd made a double batch of the brittle. The mail lady sent a card today thanking me for the gift, which was nice.

    The ducks came up to the coop this morning demanding to be let in. Ducks sure are smart!

  9. Glad you got those ducks in before they became duck-sicles! I LOVE the photos at the end, especially the ice-tipped trees!

  10. Your ducks are so beautiful. Good duck parents you are for herding them into warmth and safety on such a chilly night. They looked nice and cozy.

    I don't like peanuts or brittle, but if I did I know I'd love yours. Well done on such a sucess on your first try, too.
    Wow, you go girl on handing them out as gifts. I had no idea people did that anymore. We have large group community mailboxes so we never even see our mail carriers and we rarely get UPS or Fed Ex out here either.

    Your icy tree photo is chillingly beautiful,
    New Mexico


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