When I told Mom that Dad knew, at first she was mad; but I had an idea. What if we used the old ‘bait-and-switch’ approach and wrap up his old clubs and put them under the tree instead of the new ones? He thinks he’s getting new clubs buutttt . . . and so the plan was set in motion . . .
Christmas morning came and the ceremonious unwrapping of the gifts began; at the time we had a big, clunky and awkward silver movie camera (I have no idea what kind it was) and every Christmas that dinosaur made an appearance to record the family festivities. Dad kept glancing over at the hard-to-miss, looks-like-a-set-of-golf-clubs-to-me present tucked behind the tree. Seriously, he could hardly contain himself . . . and we nearly choked to death trying to squelch our giggles because he had no idea what was about to happen.
The clubs were the last gift standing; I think I grabbed the camera and at long last Dad was allowed to open the package . . . ‘I wonder what it could be?’ he said with a mischievous grin. ‘Just you wait,’ we all thought. Camera aimed directly at him, Dad rips off the last of the paper, opens the box and started his rehearsed ‘so surprised’ speech . . . ‘Oh honey, they are beauti . . .’ and stopped mid-sentence as it registers that these are his old clubs – old clubs covered in turf, mud and sand – I had purposefully wrapped them exactly as they’d come off the course! Camera still rolling, he looked confused for a moment and then we just couldn’t hold it together anymore. Laughter, gasping for air laughter, holding your sides laughter, filled the room . . . in that moment Dad knew he’d been had . . . Mom finally got him!!
Once we were able to contain ourselves we rolled out the new clubs with a ‘stop snooping around at Christmas’ warning! But this is still one of my favorite Christmas memories ever . . .
One of my dad’s favorite holiday treats was peanut brittle and my mom would make a batch (or two) every year at Christmas; I’m sure he would enjoy this Spicy Asian Brittle . . . a perfect balance of sweet and salty with just the right amount of heat. We made this at Thanksgiving to nibble on and there wasn’t even a sesame seed left!
SMITH BITES NOTE: I start with raw almonds and cashews roasting them myself but if you have access to unsalted toasted almonds and cashews, feel free to use them; just pick up the recipe at ‘For the Brittle’. Resist the temptation to add salt to the mixture as the soy sauce has plenty! Additionally, I poured the cooked soy-sugar into the nut mixture rather than add nut mixture to pan; I just found it easier to get everything coated in a larger container.
SPICY ASIAN BRITTLE
Martha Stewart Cocktail App for the iPad
- 1-1/2 cups toasted almonds (start w/raw)
- 1-1/2 cups toasted cashews (start w/raw)
- ½ cup wasabi peas
- ½ cup sesame sticks
- 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon red pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
TO TOAST ALMONDS AND CASHEWS:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees; place nuts on baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat and bake until lightly brown and fragrant – about 15-20 minutes.
FOR THE BRITTLE:
- Line a second baking sheet with parchment or silpat mat and set aside
- In a medium bowl mix wasabi peas, sesame sticks, red pepper and ginger; add warm toasted nuts and give the mixture a good stir. Adding the warm nuts to the spices (red pepper and ginger) releases the oils and helps add depth of flavor
- In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water; stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and brush the inside edge of the pan with a wet brush to wash down any sugar crystals. Do not stir mixture again but you can brush inside of pan with a wet brush again if sugar crystals reappear
- Cook sugar until a candy thermometer registers exactly 300 degrees – about 10 minutes or so
- At 300 degrees, remove from heat and add soy sauce (mixture will boil so use caution), stirring to combine
- Pour soy-sugar over nut mixture in bowl and using a silicone spatula, stir to coat. If using wooden or metal spoon, be sure to spray with non-stick cooking spray
- Pour nut mixture out onto parchment or silpat lined baking sheet, spread to flatten into a single layer
- Let cool completely and break into bite-size pieces.
Can be stored in an air-tight container up to a week . . . if it lasts that long!!