It seems that a trip to my Mema and Poppa's house is unlike any other trip. When traveling some places, I can anticipate a certain way things will look. However, when traveling here, to Blue Eye, MO, it seems that my memories are much clearer; I can remember the way things will look and smell. I even anticipate the way the temperature is a bit cooler than I am used to, in their house, but there is always a cozy twin-sized bed warmly awaiting my arrival. This time, we arrived at 4 o'clock in the morning, but this did not prevent my Mema and Poppa from greeting us upon our arrival.
Traveling here also seems to have this delightful sense of nostalgia. Every time we come, I feel transported to an age where responsibility doesn't matter and the most important thing is to make caramels with my Poppa while my Mema makes jokes and we all laugh in the kitchen. Where midnight ice cream treats are only normal and you can sleep in until you can't sleep anymore, but you don't because you can't wait to see Poppa who is surely already awake and lounging in the office, watching the morning news with his coffee.
My family, I am thankful for: Mema, Mom, Dad, Poppa, BenToday, Thanksgiving, Poppa and I are making his specialty caramels. Let me just tell you about these caramels. When I was a kid, we would sneak as many as we could until our mouths were so full of caramel that we could hardly talk. Now, our family pretends that if you cut them into smaller pieces, that maybe they aren't so bad for you after all. But it doesn't really matter how bad they are, because whatever negative health effects they have, they make up for it in positive spirit effects: the holidays are just not quite complete without my Poppa's caramels. Hopefully you will appreciate them as much as we do!
My PoppaPoppa Clark's Caramels
4 cups of white sugar
1 quart of white corn syrup
1 pound of butter
1 quart of half and half cream; split into 1 cup and 3 cups
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1. Place the sugar, corn syrup, butter and 1 cup of the cream in a large, heavy bottom saucepan. The pan should be at least 8 quarts or larger. Heat over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Then, gradually pour the remaining cream into the boiling mixture, in a fine stream, stirring constantly.
2. Continue boiling while stirring until the mixture comes 247 degrees (medium-hard ball stage), approximately 1 hour.
3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into a well buttered 9x13 inch cake pan. When thoroughly cooled (a few hours; be patient!) invert the pan and remove the caramel onto a cutting surface. Cut the caramels into long 1 inch strips with a buttered pizza roller. Then cut the strips into 1 inch squares. Wrap them in waxed paper and share with your friends.
Want to get on your friend's good side before the holidays? Slip them a few of these and they will surely appreciate you even more than before!
Happy eating (and Thanksgiving!)
I am thankful for my family and friends, love and laughter, and traditions!