Fail Candy


Fail Candy

I woke up the other morning, and it was one degree outside. One degree Fahrenheit. I shivered by the door while my dog wandered the yard. I did my morning workout and alternated between jacket on and jacket off the whole time. I left my coffee sitting on the table for half-a-second and came back to iced coffee. I spent the day huddled under two throws and grimaced if my foot slipped out of my body heat radius. Single digits aren’t temperatures they’re serving sizes.

Growing up in Florida I swore that I would move to a state with real winters. In my head this meant snow and icicles. The first fall-to-winter I lived in Tennessee, I was completely without sweaters. I’d moved less than half my possessions up here in my initial replanting because, hey, I’d get a job and then an apartment and then I’d get all my things up here. I didn’t think this would take long. In the grand scheme of things, it really didn’t, but I ended up in Nashville without my heaviest sweaters during the only December that’s had a snow so far. My first winter here left me unrealistically assuming every year I’d see snow covered trees and ankle deep accumulation.

This year has been all the cold with none of the benefits. We’ve had mere dustings. Well, dustings and ice showers. I encountered my first patch of black ice, which was small and at very low speeds, but still unsettling.

The cold has driven me to stay inside as much as possible. I’m a home body anyway, so this wasn’t too harsh a fate. The other week I was out almost every other night, which is a heck-of-a lot for me. I basically took care of almost all my monthly socializing in one fell swoop.

The coldest week drove me back to an old passion, baking and candy making. I made white chocolate chip cookies, but I also tried my hand at salt water taffy. Taffy, apparently, is a finicky beast. Twice I made up batches of a taffy wannabe candy. The first was boiled too hot and then let it cool too much before I attempted to pull it, which led to a whole batch of what I’ve been calling fail candy. Closer to toffee but not quite anything. It tastes good, is nicely crunchable, but is not an intentional candy. The second batch, though successfully pulled, cooled too hard to be taffy, which means I once again cooked it too hot. It has the right flavor which was enough to stop my taffy craving, and it looks successful, even though you could crack a tooth if you tried to chew it.

As a perfectionist I can’t let salt water taffy beat me. But by the same token, I can’t waste more hours on a candy that needs more attention than I have to spare. Especially when I have two large bowls of fail candy already sitting around my house. I used to think that the hard part of Taffy was the pulling. TV-shows from the 90’s (really just Clarissa Explains It All) led me to believe that pulling taffy took at least two people with the energy of teenage girls to succeed, but now I know it takes a good candy thermometer and a diligent eye.

This week, the temperatures are rising. The candy-making crazies will leave me alone as I venture back into the world. We have guests coming, and I have a conference to get ready for. For now, the taffy has won. But more cold snaps will come. The candy can’t win every time.


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