Thursday, December 23, 2010

Celebrating like the Jews

Like I said, today begins Adam's annual chocolate turtle making. First, he cleans the peanuts, removing any skin, peanut dust or other undesirables from them.
Then he makes the caramel.  This is white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, heavy cream, butter & salt. Anna is still helping at this point.  You never know when Anna will bail and go read on the couch. Adam is shooting for 200º.
This is the cookbook he uses for his turtles. We bought this years ago.  I made one chocolate cake recipe from it, which turned out disgusting. After that, I have generally left the candy-making to the husband.
The caramel foams, and eventually boils.  When it's about 235º (I think), it's ready for soft-ball stage.
This is a fuzzy picture of the caramel he drops into ice water, to see if it's to the correct stage for turtles.  He doesn't want it rock hard, or too gooey.
Then he pours it out on the peanuts and uses his bench knife to mix it all together.
More stirring...
And the glisteny mass looks like this.
We (I use that term loosely) make these turtles to give away to friends at Christmas.  Adam will finish them tomorrow, and we'll bag them up and drive around town, hoping to find people at home. It's an unusual tradition, but a wonderful one. At what other time of year do people take food gifts to each other?

The Jews did.  I read about it just this morning, serendipitously. Remember the story of Esther?  She was a Jewish girl, amazingly chosen by the Persian king to be his queen. But then an enemy of the Jews plots to have ALL the Jews from India to Ethiopia (that's basically all the Jews anywhere, back then, unless there were a few holing up in Athens) murdered.  He sneakily got the king's approval to issue an irrevocable edict, that all Persians everywhere should murder any Jew they knew, and then they could keep the dead Jews' property.

Esther and her uncle were successful in exposing the plot, and although they couldn't get the edict revoked, the king issued a new one that basically empowered the Jews to protect themselves, defusing the possible violence.  When the 2nd edict came out, the Jews were ecstatic -- can you imagine the huge relief?

A death sentence, an irrevocable one, was on your head, on your children's heads. Then, one day -- life is given back to you! What relief!  And those Jews celebrated. Here's what Esther 9:19, 22 says: "Therefore the Jews ... hold the 14th day of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and as a day on which they send gifts of food to one another.... as the days on which the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another, and gifts to the poor."

Christmas is such a holiday for us.  The birth of the Savior turned our mourning, our death sentence, into a continuous feast of gladness, an enthusiasm of life restored. We should celebrate -- like the Jews! And we do -- we take gifts of food to each other, all over town.

I came home from more shopping, to find a gorgeous chocolate pie on the counter, from my friend Mary.
(These were not a food gift, unless you could a gift from me to me, which Adam says does NOT count. But they were so pretty, I couldn't resist a photo.)
And our friends Barb and Ron dropped by with a huge container of hot cocoa mix and the most delectable lemon poppyseed cake imaginable. And I can imagine a lot.  It left a big butter spot on my counter when I set it down. Sigh....
So, Christians, your death sentence is removed! Christmas is our celebration day! Take some food to somebody!


  1. I love gifts of food, both giving and receiving. Whether in hospitality to feed a new mother's family, or whether in pure celebration, it's always a wonderful reminder that Jesus Christ bids us to His table and feeds us.

  2. I so agree, Jessica! The feast is so important, and we modern Christians don't seem to grasp this at all. Perhaps we're out of touch with how important it is that God redeems our bodies also, and nourishes the whole man.


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