May 5th, 2009 | No Comments »

June 19, 2007

I have been eating, sleeping, and breathing caramels for the last week, and I am about ready to scream. Today, just for the hell of doing something different, I attempted some pate de fruits, which is not part of my usual repertoire and which is setting in the fridge as I write this.

Well, I love making caramels, but goodness, I forgot how bad I am at it! That’s right, I know this is hard to believe, but those delicious creamy, buttery bites piled up like chewy bits of heaven, just enough salt to give them that tiny crystalline savor–well, for every one that turns out right, I probably eat four or five defects.

Well, actually, it isn’t that I’m bad at them, it’s that the air conditioning is on the fritz and it is very, very difficult to make candy when it’s humid–most cookbooks (wisely) advise you not to try making candy when it’s humid, because of the adjustments you need to make. And I struggle with paying attention to details at the best of times. And I’m making candy for a wedding, which is another thing, because I’ve locked the liquor cabinet and without liquor weddings seem very, very difficult to face.

So, the caramels have been giving me problems, which might be why I keep waking up smelling burned sugar. Twice last night I actually had to go into the kitchen because the smell seemed so real I was sure I’d somehow left a batch on the stove! Well, it was the second time I stumbled out of my bedroom that I heard the phantom chip-cruncher at it again.

Now, it’s been about two months since the cruncher’s put in an appearance in the kitchen, and I won’t say I’ve missed him/her/it. I stumbled into the kitchen last night, and before I could even put my poor paranoid self to rest about the burned-sugar smell, I heard it: the unmistakable, rhythmic sound of someone chomping on crunchy tortilla chips.

I stopped dead in the middle of the kitchen and tried to make it all part of the same sensory hallucination as the sugar, but it wouldn’t go away. Chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp…(pause, rustle of hand-in-crinkling-plastic-bag)…chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp. Not thin little potato chip crunches, either; these were loud. Like I said, tortillas for sure!

It’s hard to pin down a noise if you don’t have a visual point of reference to nail it down to. I’m pretty sure it was coming from the vicinity of the kitchen table, as if the muncher was sitting there like a dinner guest, but it also sort of sounded like it might have been coming from inside my kitchen pantry, except when I actually went in there. Then it sounded like it was less a chip-cruncher and more like a dinosaur chewing bones. So, naturally, I left the pantry. Then I hit on the perfect way to settle the issue.

I sat down opposite the masticator and waited to be offered a chip, which frankly is the least I expect from a ghostly personage chewing loudly enough to be heard over the smell of imaginary burning sugar. When it didn’t happen, I went to bed. I can’t be bothered to worry about an invisible individual who isn’t at least going to offer to share. Son of a bitch.

Oh, and congratulations, Dee! Enjoy the caramels! If they taste funny it’s probably because every time I really wanted a drink I put a shot of brandy into the pot instead of my coffee cup. But they’ll probably taste just fine.