For six weeks every fall, Glenna Beaver’s kitchen becomes a workshop for producing the peanut brittle we anticipate around holiday time.
In between serving residents picking up their orders, Glenna took the time to tell me a little about her annual project. When just a child in Oklahoma, her mother took orders for peanut brittle and Glenna remembers disliking the mess that resulted in the kitchen and even worse, the task of delivering the finished candy.
However, history repeated itself, when Glenna, as a young bride, decided in 1963 to earn a little extra money in the same way her mother had. That first year she sold 12 bags and felt very proud that she made enough money to buy her husband a Christmas present with her own earnings.
The second year, sales increased to 20 bags. She finished delivering the candy by Christmas and was delivered of her first baby on January 6.
Years ago, Glenna’s mother-in-law worked here at the Manor as a bookkeeper. Thus, word got out about the special peanut brittle and since that time it’s become a tradition to place our orders. Last year Glenna sold 756 bags; this year’s count won’t be completed until the last bag has been delivered. Although we are her major account, word of mouth brings orders from people who hear about this delicious confection.
Proudly, she told me that her candy is sent by customers to lucky recipients in Cambodia (last year some went by way of Colombia, arriving in February, still edible), the Czech Republic, the Philippines and Australia.
One batch makes 2 bags; each bag holds 1 1/4 pounds of peanut brittle. Glenna admits that it’s easier these days to make 945 pounds of candy without children underfoot. Her 2 offspring are grown and have given her and her husband 4 grandchildren and 1 1/2 great-grandchildren.
The recipe is little different from others, but what makes it special and so sought after is the way she pulls and stretches the brittle, making it so delicately thin that there's little danger of breaking a tooth when eating it. As she cooks, she isn't tempted to taste test, but she admitted to nibbling on the crumbs sometimes. Her advice is that we not attempt to freeze the peanut brittle, but crumbs can be frozen and put on ice cream (don’t thaw them first, or a goopy mess will result).
As she gathers candy making supplies each fall, it’s exciting to anticipate the start of peanut brittle season, but about halfway through Glenna begins to think that this year might be the last. Hopefully, that feeling will fade by autumn of 2011.
|Glenna Beaver, of peanut brittle fame|