Thursday, December 14, 2006

It was a dark and nutty night....

Another big storm is headed our way today. Already a tens of thousands of people are without power on the Rusty Island and mainland. Yesterday, power flickered on and off all day here, threatening us with a blackout but I called it’s bluff and we remained juiced up. I don’t think I ought to push it. It’s a bit odd that we haven’t lost our power in this old house during these past wind storms when everyone we know has been dining by candlelight. Especially since we often lose electricity if a bird flies too close to our power lines.

Yesterday we had a glimmer of sun and even a 7-lane highway rainbow fill the sky. And you know what they say, ‘Make candy when the sun shines.’

I’ve been wanting to make peanut brittle. It’s a tradition for this time of year for me. Unfortunately, it’s been way too humid to be making it. Usually you want humidity to be under 60% to make a good hard candy. We’ve been hovering around 100% for the last several weeks. The extra moisture in the air can be reabsorbed by the cooling candy and leave you with a soggy brittle.

Yesterday, the humidity reading reached the low 70s and I figured that that’s probably as low as it’s going to get. I pulled out my candy thermometer and made a batch of spicy peanut brittle. The power sputtered a few times but it didn’t seem to affect the final product.

The spice came from a ¼ teaspoon of red chili pepper flakes I added. It’s got a nice afterglow to it. I think I’m going to have to make a feistier version and a molasses brittle with local hazelnuts. I’ll keep you posted.

I was also going to do some baking but with the power hiccupping back and forth I decided against it. Instead, DH and I headed over to Westwood Lake to take advantage of the relatively dry weather. The 6km trail around the lake has a nice mix of hills and few wooden bridges and boardwalks and as is picturesque as it gets.

We often use the trail for running. Well, DH goes for a run. I go for a run/brisk walk/skip/puddle jump. I figure as long as I clock in an average of 50 or so minutes for each 6km lap, I’m doing ok.

The wind was bellowing across the forest. The lake was huge with whitecaps and the trails were strewn with windfall. The rain came and twirled about. It certainly made for a dramatic jaunt. I love being in the forest when it rains. At least, when I’m not carrying a heavy backpack and I have a hot shower and cup of tea waiting for me at home.

We had invited our friends, Karin and Dave, over for dinner. In exchange for dinner, Dave fixed our dining room light and was DH’s PS2 date for the evening while Karin and I had a knitting session. We also had our usual last minute drop-in guest. With 5 mouths to feed and a questionable power supply, I opted for another quick and easy stir-fry noodles dish. This time I did noodles in a Thai peanut sauce. I had some leftover Chinese BBQ pork, a ton of local veggies and Japanese buckwheat noodles. I spent 10 minutes of playing human food processor to turn the veggies into a pile of slaw. My veggies consisted of chayote, cabbage, carrots, onions, mushrooms, bean sprouts and red pepper. Simply stir fry those and the BBQ pork, as in the Singapore chow mai recipe. While that was going, I boiled up some water for the buckwheat noodles. The noodles took only a few minutes to cook up. As soon as they were done, I dumped in with the stir-fried veggies. The sauce was my Thai It Up sauce with a dollop of organic peanut butter. A sprinkle of peanuts and it was done.

The sauce was a balanced melding of the rich peanut butter, countered with the sour, savory, spicy kick of the Thai It Up sauce. The buckwheat noodles have a nutty taste that echoes the nutty sauce. It was simple bowl of comfort food with a twist.

Along with the noodles, I put out a jar of homemade spicy pickled carrots that I had canned in the summer. The carrots were locally grown baby Dutch carrots. I can’t remember which farm I got them from but they’re super sweet and don’t get very big. They’re great for canning because you don’t need to peel or cut them. Simply wash them really well and they’re good to go.

We finished off our meal with tea, homemade fruit crisp made with locally grown Jonagold, Northern Spy and Belle du Boskoop apples, Anjou pears and cranberries and some of that spicy peanut brittle. A sweet and nutty ending to a sweet and nutty day!

Happy Eating!


1 comment:

Gina said...

You have just given me the best option for quick little presents for the office -- homemade peanut brittle -- in tins from the Dollar Store.