This time of year found John Galipault, patriarch of the AVSIG International Aerodrome & Farm, laying out steaming sheets of peanut brittle to flash-cool in the January chill, then passing tins of it out to family and friends around Worthington. Some northerners rush right out to the gym after the holidays, but others are in no mood to quit laying on insulation. Peanut brittle makes fine insulation.
As sure as fruitcakes pass from doorstep-to-doorstep in December and the maple sap runs in February, the crackle of peanut brittle can be heard in Worthington on the third week of January to mark eight-weeks-to-spring-and-counting. On the town square each January 21 a sheet of peanut brittle is brought forth by the town fathers and dropped level on a blacksmith's anvil from a height defined by a random citizen's open palm. The number of fractured pieces foretells the number of weeks until spring.
Though the Worthington Peanut Brittle Drop has been a tradition ever since this humble blogger made it up in this very post, alas the celebrated burgh a few hundred miles east with its large rodent continues to hog all the press in folksy predictions of mother earth's annual rebirth.
No one knows if John B's peanut brittle recipe was secret or not (he was secretive about that), but here's the recipe we continue to prepare for this hopeful mid-winter week:
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup water
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups dry roasted peanuts
3 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. baking soda
... Line a 10- by 15-inch baking pan, or really, any old pan with foil. Spray the foil with vegetable cooking spray; set aside.
... Combine sugar, light corn syrup, water, and salt in a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, over medium high heat. Once the mixture begins to boil, stop stirring. Boil until the mixture reaches 300°F on a candy thermometer. Add the peanuts and cook, stirring, until the mixture is golden brown. Remove from the heat and add the butter and baking soda. Pour the mixture onto the prepared pan and spread as thinly as possible. Allow to cool. Brittle will cool faster if you leave the tray outside in the six-degree balm. If a squirrel should attempt to dine on the brittle during the cool-down you will know (and you will have world-famous Worthington Stuck Angry Squirrel).
... Bust up the brittle, share, enjoy and wait for spring.