My oldest daughter has started following in her old man's footsteps. It turns out she followed me right into the kitchen. Unlike her old man, though, she's getting more into candy making. As you can imagine, I'm trying to encourage this behavior. Hey, I like homemade candy as much as the next guy.
I've already posted her first candy attempt. The caramels were good, in spite of the fact that she added twice as much sugar as the recipe called for.
It also turns out that she was guessing when it came to the temperature. We don't have a candy thermometer. I assumed she was testing for the soft ball stage because I had talked to her about it.
She told me, “Yeah, Dad. I read about it in this recipe book. I know what that's about.”
Knowing and doing are two different things, though. “Yeah, Dad. I read about and I think that's too much work so I'm not doing it.” That would have been more accurate. She eventually revealed that "She was guessing based on how fast she saw our meat thermometer rising."
I think that's why the caramels, and her latest candy creations, weren't quite as expected, texture-wise.
Mistakes are part of learning, though. Whenever she's in the kitchen I'm constantly reminding myself, shut up, John. Yes, I may know an [insert favorite positive adjective here] way, but she needs to be allowed to make mistakes. I firmly believe that. I also firmly believe that if I get too involved she'll quit doing it and there will be less treats in my life. Thus goes the father/daughter relationship.
A week ago I came home from work to find her in the kitchen just beginning to stir up some agglomeration of sugar, water, and butter. I thought I best investigate.
“What'cha makin'?” I asked.
“Oh, just this stuff,” she said, turning to her favorite cookbook, “Prawl-eyens, pray – lines, something.”
“Pralines?” I asked.
“I guess.” She said, turning back to the pot.
Wow. She's braver than I am so, I said, “Wow. You're braver than I am. I don't make much candy. Hot sugar makes me nervous.”
“Thanks!” she replied, smiling. “I don't have any pecans so, I thought I'd use these almonds. I'm not sure I have enough, though.”
“How much do you need?”
“Four cups, I think. I'm doubling the recipe.”
Ouch. Besides, the almonds and I had plans. “Honey, I think you've got maybe one cup of almonds here and I was planning on using them for something else.”
“Oh, okay,” she replied, dropping her smile in favor of a vacant look of dissapointment.
“Look, I'm going to the grocery store. Do you want to come along and we can get some pecans, instead?” I offered.
She perked up a bit. “Sure. Just let me get this started.”
“I'm not sure you'll want to do that. You really shouldn't leave candy alone when your baking it.” I said. “Why don't you wait until we get back?”
“No, I want to get this done. I've got to let it cool down for at least 30 minutes before I add the nuts,” she insisted. “Then we can go.”
“Are you sure?” I started. The voice in my head starting to say, shut up, John.
“Yeah, I'm sure,” she said.
“Okay,” I said, silently hoping the candy wouldn't cool down as fast as I thought it would.
After several minutes of stirring, she announced, “Okay, Dad. We can go. Let's just not take too long, okay?”
“Okay,” I said, “I only need to get some vanilla and eggs. that shouldn't take too long.”
Unfortunately, things don't always go as planned for budding confectioners, or their fathers ....
Photo by Rubén.