train rides, goodbyes, and virginia peanut brittle

It well and truly feels like summertime, now. There isn’t much of a spring in Virginia. Well, there isn’t much of any season in Virginia. Temperatures tend to bounce heedlessly from one extreme to the next, cycles of aggressive weather patterns plaguing the day-to-day. Take this past weekend, for example: a downpour of Biblical proportions, only for a few subsequent afternoons of dull humidity and light breezes. Thirteen years in this state have trained me to be prepared for uncertainty and carry a fresh change of clothes for 20 degree temperature changes on any given day.

What is certain, however, is the unmistakably bone-deep feel of lethargy and idleness that hangs like an overcast, as though each day stretches on for weeks at a time.

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I myself have spent the past few weeks primarily in my car, driving from city to city with boxes of novels and cookbooks, transporting years’ worth of clothing and photo frames from the apartment to my parents’ house. Yesterday was my last day in the apartment, actually¬†(read: I am officially a member of the dreaded recently-graduated-yet-indefinitely-unemployed pool of sad, sad 20-somethings), but memories of spending hot afternoons with Walt Whitman and nights wandering amidst a gloriously silent campus are fresh in my mind.

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salted caramel

Salted Caramel
Yields about 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 tbsp [1 stick] butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Method:

In a medium saucepan over medium flame, heat sugar until it begins to melt, whisking constantly. The sugar will turn a pale yellow, and then rapidly begin to darken. This will take 5-6 mins, and the sugar may form clumps (which is alright!).

Once it reaches a vibrant amber, quickly whisk in the salt, and then add the butter all at once. Whisk until all of the butter melts and the mixture is uniform. Remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream, whisking vigorously. The syrup will foam up spectacularly, but is quick to calm. Return the pan to the stove, lower the flame, and continue whisking until most of the clumps have melted into the syrup.

Allow sauce to cool at least 15 mins before using. If storing, pour into glass mason jars (sauce should fit one pint- or two half-pint-sized jars). Don’t refrigerate until the syrup has cooled to room temperature. Syrup can be stored for up to 5 days, and can be poured over literally anything to up its deliciousness factor.