Microwave Peanut Brittle

Peanut BrittleWhen the holidays start to roll around, I’m always taken back to my days as a kid. Recently I was thinking about peanut brittle and how my grandma always had it around Christmastime. I’ve never made it before and imagined it would be a long, laborious task that I wouldn’t be interested in pursuing, but I figured I’d check with Google anyway, just in case I was wrong.

I am happy to report that I was wrong! I found a recipe for peanut brittle that is made in the microwave, and after some minor tweaking, landed on what I think is a fabulous recipe. Within 15 minutes, I had delicious peanut brittle in my grubby little paws. Without further ado, here it is.

Microwave Peanut Brittle

Ingredients

1 C white sugar
1/2 C light corn syrup (mmmm… corn syrup)
1T butter
1 C dry roasted peanuts (the brittle in the photo was made with 1 1/2 cups, which I found to be too much… but if you like a nutty nut brittle, go for it!)
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 t baking soda

Method

Important Note: Cooking times are using a 900 watt microwave. If your microwave is a different wattage (higher or lower), you will need to account for the difference and modify the cooking times accordingly. If you don’t know the wattage, check inside the door. It is likely on the sticker that contains the model and serial number of your microwave.

Another note: Measure all ingredients before you begin and have them ready. Once you start, work quickly, as the sugar mixture will begin to set as soon as you stop cooking/stirring.

Another nother note: If you coat your spoon and the edge of the bowl with oil, it makes it easier for the mixture to slide off when you’re ready to pour it out.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the baking sheet into a warm oven while you’re cooking the brittle. To do so, turn the oven to 200F and allow it to come to temperature. Once the oven reaches the temperature, turn the oven off. Warming the pan will allow you more time to work with the brittle when you’re ready to spread it.

In a large glass bowl, mix sugar and corn syrup to combine. Microwave on high for 5 1/2 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR TO STIR. Add the butter, nuts, and vanilla and give it a quick stir. Cook an additional 2 minutes.

Add baking soda and stir quickly, just enough to combine. It will foam up.

Immediately pour mixture onto warm baking sheet and quickly, but gently, spread by tipping the pan back and forth, or if necessary, using 2 forks in a pushing and pulling fashion. Try not to smash it down much, as the airiness caused by the baking soda is what makes it light and crispy.

Allow to completely cool. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

This is your basic recipe. Next time, you can adjust the amount of nuts and vanilla to your liking. It’s quick, simple, easy, and delicious!

Let me know if you make it and how it turned out.

Cheers!

Kim

Caution: May not be habit-forming

I’m not a creature of habit. I try to form all kinds of good habits, but I often go astray. No matter how good my intention may be, I’m a drifter of sorts. I have to work hard at sticking with a routine and if something throws me off, it’s sometimes hard to get back into it.

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Oh sure, I have certain daily habits like making coffee first thing in the morning, taking care of our pets, getting ready for work, brushing my teeth, etc., but those are obvious things that must be done on a daily basis. I’m talking about things where a different choice could easily be made. Like going to the gym (or not), meditating every day at 6 a.m. (or hitting the snooze 13 times), cleaning up the kitchen immediately after dinner (or turning off the light and pretending the mess isn’t there), going to bed at 10:30 every night (or reading just one more chapter in this book…). Or blogging when I said I would…😳 (instead of watching Netflix until past the time I wanted to go to bed).

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Several months ago I fell out of a not-so-regular habit of blogging. To get back on track, a mere three days ago I set the intention to post every day the month of December. Technically, we’re now in the fourth day of the month and I missed the third day posting, but I’m still counting this one because (1) it’s still December 3rd in Mountain Time, and (2) I’m still up, so Monday hasn’t really ended. So, true to my word, here’s my third post for December – three days in a row.😄

Hope you had a great Monday!

Kim

Laced with Frustration

20181201_111342These are my daughter’s tennis shoes. They’ve been sitting in the same spot, just like this, for exactly 13 weeks. Why is this a story? you’re asking? They’ve been on top of the dryer, taunting me every time I do the laundry, which is a couple of times a week, for over three months. So no less than 26 taunts and mental jeers. They’re a constant reminder of the stress they caused me and the guilt I feel about them just sitting there. Oh, please. Drama much? Yes, well. There’s that.

This summer, my daughter wore them to do some yard work. They got all muddy and then sat by the back door for weeks. And weeks. So after she went off to college and left them behind, I finally decided I should wash them. For whatever reason, I apparently found myself with nothing better to do with my time. They were, after all, cute shoes, and still in very good condition, sans mud. Nike. Not cheap. But also a year old, and had been replaced by “this year’s model.” And Adidas. Ah-dee-dahs, as we used to call them in high school. I discovered that they’re still called that. I’m not really sure why that makes me smile. Maybe because Adidas has replaced this pair of rudeness.

I took them outside and banged the crap out of them to get as much of the dried mud, leaves, and grass off as I could. I wondered if it was even worth my time to wash them because I wasn’t sure if they were ever going to come clean. My kid loves to step in the mud, rain puddles, snow banks, you name it. Even at 18, it’s like a magnetic attraction. When she was working in the yard this summer, I’m pretty sure she walked in the mud and squished her feet around in it intentionally, trying to see how much she could build up, even when she could have avoided it. It just strikes her as a challenge. A dare, if you will. Good, not-so-clean fun.

Like I do with all tennis shoes when I wash them, I took the shoe laces out. Herein lies the story. And the mistake. Ohhh, had I known. See those little grey things around the eyelets? The devil put them there. I kid you not. Little mind-fuckers. It never occurred to me when I was removing the laces, even though they were difficult to pull through the holes, that what my future held was pure, evil torture. You think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.

I was giddy when I took the shoes out of the washing machine and saw how clean they were. Soap does wonders, no? So I put them on top of the dryer to allow them to dry out for a couple of days before re-lacing them. I was excited just thinking about taking them to my daughter all purdy from my awesome Susie Homemaker skills.

A few days later I found myself with nothing better to do again and opened the laundry room door to lace the shoes “real quick.” Holy crap. Two eyelets in and I was reduced to a little girl. Baffled. Frustrated and confused. Pissed. Off. Those little grey loops undid me. I could not for the life of me figure out (A) how to put this puzzle together, and (B) what purpose they served. (I was convinced that they had served it – giving me an anxiety attack.) These shoes were no longer cute to me. They were the bane of my Susie Homemaker existence and I hated them with a passion. Was this design some joke? Was its very purpose to annoy and mock? I nearly had a nervous breakdown trying to figure out how to put these damn shoes back together. How can this be so hard to comprehend? I didn’t know. But it was. It was like the Rubik’s fucking cube with laces.

It honestly took me several minutes and several tries to figure out the pattern. Aha. Got the pattern. But then, attempting to put the end of the lace through the holes was an all-new challenge. The end of the lace was much bigger than the hole, and trying to jam the little fucker through the hole and the two grey loops resulted in smashing the ends of the plastic tips that keep the end of the shoelace nice and smooth and compact, enabling one to re-lace one’s shoes in a stress-free manner rather than like trying to stick a wet noodle through the eye of a needle. Or eye of the storm, which turned out to be the case here.

After about 20 minutes of this exercise in pure frustration, I slammed the shoes down on top of the dryer and walked away. And there they have sat for 13 weeks.

Whatever man designed these shoes – and I am 100% certain it was a man, because any woman in her right mind would have given the design extra thought as to whether the shoe could be easily re-laced after washing (not to suggest that men never wash their tennis shoes, but even if they do, are they really removing the shoelaces and re-lacing them afterwards??) – should be strung upside down by his toe hairs to think about what he’s done.

So today is the day, my friends. Truth or dare. I’m setting the timer for 10 minutes – and that’s a generous amount of time – to re-lace these disciples of the devil. If it can’t be done in 10 minutes, they’re going into the donation box to let some other poor soul challenge herself with this mind game. More power to her.

Happy Sunday!

Kim

Today is the first day of the rest of the month

Okay, not as profound as “Today is the first day of the rest of your life,” but today is December 1. Yesterday marked the end of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), during which time I wrote precisely zero words on my blog(s). Absolutely not one word. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Nil. Naught. Nothing. Not a single damn word.

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Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

Yesterday was also my birthday. (November 30 – mark your calendar so that you don’t forget next year and all the years to come. I’m not much of a birthday cake person, but you can send me pie or dark chocolate.) To celebrate, I went to a friend’s house for dinner and Ouija. Kind of like dinner and wine, only better. No buzz, no need for a designated driver, no hangover, and no stained lips. I still had hot flushes, but I’m lucky enough to get to experience those even without the wine, so it was a win-win. Sort of. Well, not really in that sense, but whatever. I’m trying to stay on my high-flying disc, so just go with me on this one.

Anyway, after putting the lasagna (vegan – and delicious!!) in the oven and setting the timer, my friend Jan pulled out the sacred Ouija board. We started the session as we always do by, you know, asking for all the good shit and none of the bad shit. And then we stared at each other for a solid three minutes to decide what to ask. One would have thought that I’d have amassed a list of questions for the evening so that I could get all the answers, especially in light of the fact that the last time we got together with Ouija we had a conversation with God. No shit. That was some pretty heavy stuff, but that’s not who came to visit last night.

Finally the light bulb went off in my dull brain. (After a long week at work, Friday night typically isn’t when I do my best work. I’m not really sure when I do my best work, but it definitely isn’t Friday night.) I said I wanted to figure out what to do about my writing. I’m kind of all over the place and I have something like five blogs going. Well, they’re not really going. They just exist. I really wanted to write, but I have all these topics in my head and I couldn’t focus or narrow down what posts to put in which blog, so I didn’t post anything. Productive, right? Which is where Ouija comes to the rescue. So I asked the Ouija how to manage my blogs and writing so that I could unparalyze myself and stop doing nothing. I’m not even sure if that’s a double negative. Stop doing nothing. Stop doing nothing? Does that even make sense? I told you – it was Friday night.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Lights dimmed, our eyes closed, and fingers lightly perched on the Ouija thingy (the technical term for the thing you perch your fingers on – look it up. I’m sure that’s what it says in the game insert), I asked what I should do about my blog(s). Without much hesitation, the thingy moved. Once it stopped, we both opened our eyes. There, in the middle of the Ouija eye (the other technical term that has to do with the Ouija thingy is the “Ouija eye” – the clear plastic circle through which you peer to see where the thingy has landed, thereby giving you a “clear” message), was the number “1.”

“One,” we both said slowly, brows furrowed, looking at each other. How slowly really can you say a three-letter word, and how can you really not understand what that one three-letter word means? “One?” We sat in a moment of silence to ponder the profundity of the message delivered via the sacred board. “Oh! One blog. Focus on one blog!” Sweet Jesus, what a relief! I had been slaying my brain for months, trying the figure out how I was going to manage three blogs (shhhh… don’t get hung up on the fact that I said I have five – it will make this an even longer post and we don’t really want that now, do we?) and balance the rest of my life.

Why it never occurred to me to ask the Ouija before, I’ll never know. Ah, the wisdom. Sheer brilliance. Spirit knows. Only the Shadow knows. There I had it. My ticket to write. [Subliminal message: She’s Got a Ticket to Ride Write will play in your head now for days and days and days…. You’re welcome. My baby don’t care!]

Seriously. With the steadfast guidance of the Ouija Goddess, and after discussing it for a bit, I came to the realization that Life in the Crass Lane is as me as any blog ever could be. All along, I’ve had this idea in my head that my blog should be focused on one area. Says who?! Zeroing in on the “me” of any and all of my blogs through my writing is what directs the theme. Duh, genius. I really am smarter than I sometimes seem.

With an instantly renewed enthusiasm for my writing, I declared last night that I would post every single day during the month of December. No matter what, I’ll publish at least one blog entry a day. It may not be as long-winded as this one, but I’m committing to 31 continuous days of posting. And then we shall see what we shall see.

So buckle up, my friends. We’re in for a joy ride. Or at least a ride. I have no idea what’s in store for this li’l blog of mine, but I’m about to find out.

Happy weekend, people! May the good shit forever be with you!

Kim

Hmm. Now where was I?

It’s been awhile since I’ve been in the land of blog. A thing or two has happened since I was last active. Well, “active” as in writing a post. I’ve been an occasional voyeur, but I’m not counting that.

Here’s a recap of what’s happened over the last six (6??!! already?!!?) months:

  • Broke my ankle (yeah, that was fun. Had I told you yet about breaking my wrist less than two years ago? No? Well, then that makes this extra special. I’ll tell you that story sometime. But not now.)
  • My daughter graduated from high school (yay!)
  • We took a trip to France (yes, with the broken ankle. Because I couldn’t leave it at home like I wanted to. Very extra special.)
  • Our bunny died while we were away (very not so special).
  • My daughter went off to college (remember that post about the empty space at the end of the couch? Yeah. It’s there now. Except for when it’s occupied by a second cat…)
  • Yes. We adopted another cat (who, as it turns out, is the Million Dollar Cat with ongoing health issues… But she’s very sweet and I’m happy she has a home that isn’t either the not-so-great outdoors or a metal 2x2x2 cage).
  • Three deaths in my world of family and friends in the span of two short weeks.
  • SomeTHING(s) is/are living in my attic!! What the hell. (Remember last year kind of around this same time when a creature was stirring? Apparently his distant cousin(s) got the memo so they moved in to wreak havoc to pay me back for his untimely demise.) Anyway, it’s something with little claws that I can hear scurrying overhead and who likes to play croquet at night. Little bastard. Don’t worry. The handyman and exterminator have both been contacted. Eviction notice will be issued in the next day or two. Hope there isn’t an army up there. 😑
  • My “super easy” weekend painting project is now in its FIFTH WEEK (so very extra special I can hardly stand it…).

Oh, of course there’s some other random stuff, too, but these are the highlights. I won’t bore you with the lowlights because, well, with all the fun-ness in that list, who could really handle any more? Pretty exciting stuff.

So here I am, avoiding real life drama by telling stories. Some embellished. Some not. Because with the shit that happens in my life, I really don’t have to embellish it. It’s just the way it happens.

I’ve missed the clickety click of my keyboard. It’s good to be back.

Kim

Smile, dammit.

Yesterday was a rainy, gloomy day. And so is today. Again. If my memory serves me correctly, every day in 2018, save for two, has been grey – with or without snow and/or rain. I’m pretty sick of it. But here I am planted in the Midwest, which means it’s to be expected that the weather will be rather dismal this time of year. At least we don’t have a foot of snow right now, so there’s that.

Anyway, yesterday while walking down the street coming back to my office from lunch, I happened to gaze across the street and noticed a man at the crosswalk. I did a quick double take because for a second I thought it was someone I knew.

Turns out it wasn’t, but that didn’t stop him from smiling at me. A real smile – teeth and all. Not one of those half-assed smirky smiles that says “Oh, awkward. We’ve made eye contact and now I’m gonna look like a jerk if I don’t acknowledge in some way that we’ve visually connected, so now I feel like I have to smile at you, even though I have no idea who you are and why you’re looking at me. Why do I now have to smile at you?” kind of smile. It was a genuinely friendly smile that said “Hi! Have a nice day!” from across the street, standing in the rain.

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I smiled back. A real smile back. One that said “Hi back! Have a nice day yourself! Thank you for taking the most minuscule extra effort to smile at a complete stranger on this ugly-ass day!!”

I’ll probably never see that person again or, if I do, I may not remember him or realize we exchanged a smile on a rainy day.

The point is that two total strangers smiled at one another. And I loved that. That it cost him nothing, cost me nothing, harmed no one, and in fact, lifted me on an otherwise sort of ugly day.

Smile! Smile because you can! Smile because it’s free! (I’m trying to see how many exclamation marks I can insert in this post. Mostly because now that I’ve noticed that I’ve used so many, it’s making me… yes, you guessed it, smile!) Smile because it will make you feel good and because it could brighten up the day for someone who is having an otherwise gloomy day. Smile as much as you can because some day you may be on the receiving end when you’re the one having an otherwise gloomy day. And won’t that be nice?!

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By smiling often, when you’re feeling good and your valve is open, and even when you’re feeling grumpy or sad – or even apathetic, you are raising your vibration such that you are creating more smiling days than gloomy days, and you are pre-paving a journey of smiles.

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Go on. Smile, dammit!

Growing Pains

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
― Anaïs Nin

When we are faced with discomfort, fear, differences, or pain, our reaction is often anger, resentment, blame, or perhaps simply opposition. I am certainly guilty of this. We are, after all, human, and probably none of us is immune.

The next time you find yourself in a situation that puts you outside of your comfort zone, try to see an opportunity for growth, a new (or recurring) life lesson, or a different perspective than you have had in the past. Rather than immediately reacting, pause to consider this simple question:

Is my knee-jerk reaction simply a habit?

In my own life experience, I am trying (again) to retrain my human brain to remove emotion to take a fresh look at a situation with unbias. That can be difficult, especially when years of conditioning tells us a situation is “real.” In truth, our reality is often no more than a habit of thinking. We have the ability to change our way of thinking.

Instead of immediately coming to a conclusion based on my past experience, I can instead invoke free will, wipe the past slate clean, and start over. View a situation as new. I can reflect on the situation and decide how I would like to see the outcome rather than how, as in the past, I would assume it would happen.

Why is this happening? (again)? What part have I played in creating or attracting this? (again)? And, most importantly, perhaps, How can I change this pattern?

Learning from challenging experiences rather than simply “collecting” them allows us to grow and move forward. Just as importantly, our willingness to really examine repeated experiences to find a pattern allows us to break such patterns to create a new outcome.

The Law of Attraction is in action, regardless of whether we consciously use it. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in life and allow our journey to be directed by past experiences or what we’ve witnessed happen with others. We assume we know how it will all play out. We can instead live life on purpose! In other words, set an intention and plan the destination to create a beautiful journey. *You* are the director of your own one-woman or one-man show.

We are all students of life. Every one of us. Always. The question is, do I want to learn and grow, or will I keep repeating the same patterns and be kept behind?

While we are all humans, we are also spiritual beings. We’re on this earth not only to learn lessons, but also to teach. Sometimes the lessons are hard – both as a student and as a teacher.

I often find myself mindlessly going through the same experiences and the same processes in my daily life. And, of course, I keep getting the same outcomes. Duh. Old habits can be hard to break. But when we aren’t getting the results we’d like, new habits are worth making. As I find myself repeating lessons, I have become more and more aware of patterns I want to change.


My Sunday question of the day for myself: Which direction would you like to go?

Sugar-coated

A tug of the zipper,
stretch of the button.
My favorite pants,
apparently mauled
by the dryer.
Puzzled, I open the closet,
wipe away the dust,
and step on the scale.
There.
There it is;
proof.
The numbers do not lie.

A cookie here,
a pastry there,
many chocolates in between.
The baking craze long over,
my hips now hang
as wide as my shoulders,
begging my pants
for forgiveness.
It is a definite ‘no.’

Today
is a new day.
A new start.
Another beginning.
Retraining my palate and
resetting bad habits,
to reclaim
my wardrobe,
and eat
like a rabbit.

via Daily Prompt: Puzzled

Easy Brownie Cookies

Delicious brownie cookies. Quick and easy, just like me. No, not like that. I love quick and easy in the kitchen. Not that I don’t do long and laborious, but quick and easy usually means very little cleanup, plus, obviously, it means I can eat sooner rather than later.

I LOVE brownies. Like, LOVE love. My daughter knows that if she makes brownies she’ll need to eat what she wants within the first day, possibly two, if she’s going to have any chance in hell at getting any at all. They will not last with me in the house. I can’t help myself. I especially love the corner ones, but once those are gone, I go for all of the edge pieces. So when I figured out how to make these cookies, I was so excited to find that the entire batch of cookies is basically like having ALL corner brownies! Yay!

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Don’t be jealous of my quality photos. Until I have the time to focus (pun intended) on creating real quality images, these will have to do.

Let’s skip the blah-blah. Here’s the recipe – quick, easy, and delicious!

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Ingredients

  • your favorite brownie mix (This one happens to be from Aldi, which is good, but my personal favorite is Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies. YUM.)
  • half the added ingredients called for on the back of the box*
  • up to 1/2 cup chocolate chips and/or nuts (optional)

*Note: If your brownie mix calls for 3 eggs, here is what I have discovered. Using 2 eggs will produce more of a cake-like cookie. Using 1 will produce a firmer, chewier cookie. If using 1, you may need to add just a bit more water (a tablespoon or so) to make stirring easier. If your brownie mix calls for 2 eggs but you prefer a more cake-like cookie rather than a chewy cookie, use 2 eggs rather than 1.

I would imagine that brownie cookies made from scratch would be absolutely delicious! But I haven’t yet made them because 1) I’m not that ambitious, 2) we always have brownie mix in the cabinet, and 3) when I really have a hankering for brownie cookies, it’s time right freaking now to eat them and I’m pretty sure making them from scratch would require a 3 minute delay in getting fresh, gooey chocolate cookies into my grubby little mitts. I’ll be sure to update you if this miracle ever happens though.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F.

Dump dry mix into a bowl and break up any clumps with a whisk. Add mix-ins (chocolate chips and/or nuts) and whisk to distribute. Add water, oil, and lightly beaten egg. (Lightly beating the egg before adding it will help to ensure no weird rubbery bits end up in your brownies.)

Using a spoon or sturdy spatula (not whisk), mix well until all dry is incorporated. It will be a thick, stiff batter that resembles ice cream. (I have been known to eat the batter like this… I don’t recommend it because of the raw eggs, but my eggs come from a local farm and I know they are fresh. And I really just can’t seem to help myself.)

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At this point, you can make cookies immediately. Unless I’m having serious chocolate panic, though, I usually refrigerate the dough for 30-60 minutes before baking.

Drop rounded spoonfuls onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (I use a cookie scoop for evenly sized, rounded blobs.) One average sized box mix yields approximately 24 cookies. (*Note (again): rumor has it that you can use this same formula with cake mix to make cookies. I’ve never made them myself, but let me know in the comments if you’ve made them (with or without success!).)

Bake for 10-13 minutes (12 is perfect in my oven). Cool for 1 minute before transferring to cooling rack. Eat the entire tray before anyone else discovers them.

20180127_211805.jpgThese cookies are addictive! The great thing is that you can mix up the dough and refrigerate it, making only as many as you need (vs. want, which, in my house, is not the same thing).

I often freeze cookie portions then put them in a ziplock to make later. To do this, simply drop cookies onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for about an hour. Transfer to a freezer bag and keep in the refrigerator or freezer until you need want them. Adjust baking time accordingly.

Enjoy! What’s your favorite kind of cookie? Let me know how these turn out if you make them!

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