Today was a slightly emotional morning for me. I took my car of seventeen years to be scrapped. To be sure, the poor thing was an absolute beater. It was dented. It had peeling paint. The driver’s side seat was wearing thin enough for holes to start to appear. Pieces were starting to fall off of the car both inside and out. I had that car from the time when we were both shiny and new to when we were, both of us, used, creaky and cranky. I loved that car. It gave me freedom. It got pretty decent gas mileage. My Mitsubishi Eclipse was shaped like a sports car even though it had a four-cylinder engine. It had a power button, which made me feel like James Bond.
Two years ago, the car didn’t pass the California smog test. The mechanic tweaked some things for me and got it to pass so I drove it around for another two years. My car did not pass the smog check a second time because it needed a new engine. The car would have been worth $100 dollars in trade in if I fixed it. The science of economics trumped the emotional value, society found me foolish for keeping it as long as I did. Friends and coworkers heckled me. The car was termed a gross polluter. It was time for it to go. It easily qualified for a program the state of California has for people who can’t let go of their gross polluting cars. This program bribes people like me to take these gross polluters for dismantling. We drove the gross polluter forty miles (which seemed ironic to me) to an approved dismantler. They inspected my once pretty car, and wrote its fate all over its body. My boyfriend said it was as if they put a toe tag on it before wheeling it to the morgue. I got a little misty eyed as we watched it round the corner, never to be seen again. I bought a shiny new car last month, but it doesn’t feel like it is mine the way my Eclipse felt like a part of me. A chapter in my life is complete.
This afternoon, I decided to indulge myself to make myself feel better. Tonight is “Lights out Santa Barbara”. This event is a citywide conservation event where residents are asked to turn off their lights between 8pm-9pm for global warming awareness. We plan to light a couple of candles and play a board game tonight. I thought it would be fun to have sweets while we play our game. Making sweets always brightens my mood so I figured it would be positive in a couple of different ways.
Baking and Books is a blog I love to go to. Ariela is an avid reader and always has wonderful historical trivia to go with the foods she cooks. She is a talented photographer, baker and writer, which makes it fun to stop by and see what she is up to. Last week, she made Pumpkin currant cookies. I was dreaming about these cookies all week! These cookies already had all of the healthy goodie attributes that I like to have in my baked goods. The only thing I did different was to use a full two cups of whole-wheat pastry flour instead of half white flour and since this is a no walnut household, I substituted pecans. I will send you over to her blog for the recipe for the pumpkin currant cookies since I am lazy and they are perfect and you’ll enjoy her blog…. But wait! Before you go…
I also made candy today. I was ripping up old magazines the other day before recycling them and I came across a recipe I was dying to make but never got around to. Being lazy, I did not want to go to the store even though I did not exactly have the right ingredients. The candy turned out really good regardless. This was a super easy recipe. It was also a forgiving recipe. I had evaporated cane juice but not enough for candy so I had to use brown sugar too. I did not have mild molasses I had black strap molasses. If you have kids, go ahead and make this for them. Blackstrap molasses is loaded with minerals and vitamin B6 so this candy is a little better for them than commercial candy.
Molasses Sponge Candy
Adapted from a recipe which appeared in the April, 2002 edition of Gourmet magazine
1 ¼ cups evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup water
3 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup blackstrap molasses
2 ½ tsp baking soda
Line bottom and sides of a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with foil, then butter or oil the foil.
Bring sugar, water, butter, and cream of tartar to a boil in a deep 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Boil without stirring until syrup registers 265°F (hard-ball stage) on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes. Add molasses (don’t stir) and continue to boil undisturbed until syrup registers 295°F (hard-crack stage), 4 to 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and sift baking soda over syrup, then whisk to incorporate. (Use caution: mixture will bubble vigorously.)
Immediately pour syrup into lined baking pan and cool completely. Lift candy in foil from pan, then discard foil and break candy into pieces.