The first day of March break, it's raining out and the kids are bored. I'm limited on the various fun activities we can do since I am about to have this baby any day so I figure we could do something fun like make saltwater taffy. We love taffy, and with Easter coming up it will give me a good start on the goody bags!
The measuring and the mixing went well - always does. The prep work for the finished product also went well as the anticipation for the candy was motive for the kids to work hard. I boiled the mixture to the correct temperature, poured it into the prepared pan to cool, and waited. Once it was cool enough, I told the kids to go wash their hands and get ready to pull the taffy. This is where the disaster began....
I could hear my daughter giving instruction as to how to wash your hands 'properly' to her older brother - she's a stickler for rules but that never turns out well when guiding her brother. Then being a petite girl, her brother retaliates with a 'be quiet you little gnome'. She is upset, he gives the fake 'I'm sorry' and Little Miss is now in a grump. I tell them to put butter on their hands so they can pull the taffy, but today, that is gross in the eyes of the two children who would normally be all over it. I explain that the taffy will stick to them if they don't so they reluctantly butter-up. We all get a portion of the taffy and begin to pull. I try to explain to them how to pull it evenly but Little Miss is having difficulty as it getting a little tough for her. She gets mad, slaps it down on the counter and utters 'it's too hard' under her breath as she walks out of the kitchen. Though I call out to her to come back, she has had it and has no intention of further discussion. With buttery hands and a looming time limit hovering over me to pull the taffy before it's too late, I remained seated and pulled both portions of taffy. My son is now having difficulty with his portion as it is getting bigger and bigger on one end and he can't seem to stretch out the big blob. I switch portions with him and try to get his back to normal, only the taffy is now getting hard to pull and he doesn't have the power to pull my over sized portion. At this point, though we haven't pulled it enough, I decided I had better start cutting the taffy before it's too late. I grabbed the big kitchen scissors, buttered them, and began to cut the ropes of taffy as quick as I could. It was hard to do and it got to the point where the scissors would stick together and not open so I asked Mr. Man to please get me a sharp knife. He did his best and pulled out the long bread knife. Not my first choice but it worked for awhile, until I cut myself. It was a significant cut, quite the bleeder actually. I now requested a band-aid from the frozen, horrified child. He ran as fast as he could to get one as I ran my finger under the cold water until he returned. He was quite concerned about the blood, but I assured him it was fine. To be honest, my finger was stinging and throbbing at this point and it hurt quite a bit, but I had to be brave for my worried son and I was worried that the taffy would be getting harder as time went by. We tried to return to the taffy but it was too late. It was too hard to cut.
The taffy wasn't pulled long enough so the texture isn't what it should be, but it does taste good. It wasn't the fun experience I had envisioned either. I have a blister on my thumb, a cut on my finger, and a couple kids that will never have warm fuzzy thoughts about homemade taffy.
If I haven't ruined it for you, perhaps you may want to try this experiment yourself. You can find the recipe here: http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/candy/recipe-taffy.html A great site which also explains the steps to making taffy and why they are important. If I changed anything, I would have added more flavouring, and most certainly would have started pulling the taffy earlier instead of waiting for a temperature that the kids could handle.
What we will do the rest of week, I don't know...perhaps it would be a good time for the baby to arrive. Here's hoping!