Not too long ago, sometime before the chaos of the holidays set in, I packed the twins up one day and headed east. My grandpa and grandma live just far enough away that we don’t get to see them as much as we’d like, but not too far for a day trip visit. To some it may sound silly, but before I got pregnant one of the things I was extremely excited about at the thought of having a baby was giving my grandpa and grandma their first great-grandchild. And the day we told them there was a baby on the way was up there on my list of best moments.
So not only did I want to take the twins for a fun visit, I had something else in mind as well. To me, my grandpa has been known for many things. Among them are working on planes at Tinker Air Force Base for most of his life, loving snickers bars, being able to fix any problem on a car, and making the best peanut brittle you’ve ever tasted.
As far back as I can remember, every year as the weather starts to turn cold and festive decorations begin to appear, everyone who knows my grandpa begins to anticipate the day they’ll receive their package of peanut brittle. And believe me, it’s not just any peanut brittle. It’s a recipe that was passed down from my great-grandma Loise. Super thick, light, and fluffy – it really is in a league of its own. But it’s not just the taste that makes it so special. With my grandma overseeing and hopping in to help when needed, my grandpa spends hours in the kitchen watching the sweet, peanutty mixture begin to brown, dumping in the special ingredient, and then “stirring the fire out of it” before dumping it onto a baking sheet. He makes nearly 20 batches a season, with each batch taking about 45 minutes…it truly is a work of love.
While the peanut brittle tradition is something I’ll always think of when I think of my grandpa George, I had never actually seen him make it. This year when the time drew near I realized what an injustice it is that I’ve never had the chance to see how it’s done. Helping him was every bit as interesting and fun as I knew it would be; seeing him work and having him teach me each step of the process was far better than just reading it on the recipe card.
While I told my grandpa he should hide away his recipe so that no one can ever make peanut brittle just like his, he insists that the recipe should be shared with anyone who wants it. But I have a hunch that it’s not just about following the recipe, rather it’s about the perfect peanuts, the special pot that he uses, the certain way he stirs it and how he knows just the perfect moment to take it off the fire before it burns.
Our visit was a highlight of the holiday season for me, and as the twins get older I can’t wait to take them out to help their great-grandpa. And it’s always a bonus to get cuddled by great-grandma in between batches.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup white karo syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups raw peanuts
- 1 stick margarine
- 1 heaping teaspoon baking soda
Boil together sugar, karo syrup and water. Stir constantly until it spins a thread (about 12-15 minutes) (see spoon photo above). Be sure it spins a good thread. Add 2 cups raw peanuts and 1 cube margarine. Continue to cook and sitr until it turns the color of peanut brittle and peanuts begin to pop (about 10-15 minutes). Add one heaping teaspoon baking soda and stir rapidly. Let it foam up, then pour into a greased 9X15 inch pan while it is still foaming. Don’t press it down. Just let it roll into the pan and settle on its own.