I want to thank Jeanie Freeman for the lovely box she sent me from Michigan!  That is one state that I have never visited.  She packed a big bag of Potato Chips that were made in Traverse City – they were delicious!  She also included a pound of black cherry coffee from Michigan.  I haven’t opened that yet as I am waiting for a special friend to come and visit and we will try that together.  It smells wonderful though.  She included watermelon flavored “licorice” and cantaloupe chips that were delicous.  It was a really nice box of treats.  I would have provided a photograph but my phone died yesterday and can’t be revived – it ate the photographs that were in it!  So tomorrow I will replace it and in the meantime all I can do is say “Thank You Jeanie, for a great package!”.

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Thank you so much!  What a treat this was!  I am really enjoying meeting such interesting folks via these samplings of their lives.  Nubby is from California!  And she surely sent me some very different items.  Things I had never seen here in Florida.

My treats included Red Winter Wheat pasta, specialty tea bags, CHOCOLATES!  (Big thank you for those) Pumpkin Butter – from a local grocer, an Ikea “Spatu-spoon” and lots of love.   What a great treasure box to receive on a rainy afternoon.  I can’t even begin to express my gratitude.  There was a special chocolate bar included that has a note – there are FREE tours available.  Then I have to tell you about the special granola – made with quinoa.  I would bet this doesn’t make my sugar spike either.  I never mentioned to Nubby that I am a diabetic but she chose all things that are diabetic friendly.  How did she know?  If she is your Foodie Pal next month you are in for a big treat!

Accolades Brande – job very well done.

Yesterday was the first day of fall.  For those lucky folks who live in the northeastern portion of the US it is quite different than in Florida!  While the sky might be a slightly different shade of blue due to less humidity, it is still quite hot.  Afternoons here will remain in the upper 80’s and lower 90’s throughout the next month or so.  That being said, I did notice that it was strangely quiet when I went out to get the paper this morning.  The reason?  The air conditioners were not running!  I am an early riser so I was able to open the sliding glass door out onto the back porch along with the windows in the house for almost 2 hours before the a/c kicked back on.  This is a first since probably the beginning of May.

That brings me to the real reason for this blog today.  I needed a dose of fall in my house.  I lit an apple cinnamon candle in the kitchen after making my coffee and enjoyed a short “wake up” on the back porch with my coffee and the paper.  The birds were out looking for their breakfast after the late afternoon rain we had yesterday.  Of course I had seen a recipe that I on line that I was simply dying to try.  Autumn Brittle.  I think I might just put some of this in my next Foodie Pen Pal box.  It is kind of messy to make but well worth the effort.  If you are going to try making this, be sure to have plenty of hot soapy water ready for your utensils and your pot as this is VERY sticky!  It is a little tricky in as much as you really need to pay attention to the temperature of the sugar mixture but well worth the effort.

And here is the recipe for you.  I hope you enjoy it!

Autumn Brittle

Ingredients:

1 Cup Almonds
1 Cup Cashews
3/4 Cup Pumpkin Seeds
2/3 Cup Dried Cranberries
2 1/4 Cups Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup Golden Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Honey
1 Cup Water
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Butter

Directions:

Heat the sugars, honey, water and salt in a large pot over a low-medium flame. Use a pot that is larger than you would think necessary because when the mixture begins to boil it will foam up and increase in size. Stir every five minutes or so. Using a candy thermometer, continue to heat the mixture until it reaches a temperature of exactly 302 degrees Fahrenheit. This is very important because this is the temperature at which sugar hardens into a rock-like state after it cools. Pay close attention not to go very far above 302, otherwise you will burn the sugar. It can take up to an hour for the mixture to reach that high of a temperature, so don’t get too worried if 15 minutes go by and the thermometer is still at 175.

While the sugar mixture is boiling, place a sheet of parchment paper on top of a shallow pan, about 9 x 13 inches in width and length, and grease the parchment paper. Set aside. Once the sugar mixture reaches 302, immediately remove it from heat and stir in the butter, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries until they’re coated in the mixture.

Immediately pour the mixture onto the parchment paper and spread it out into a large rectangle using a rubber spatula. Try to keep the surface relatively even and about 1 inch in height. Place the pan in the refrigerator and allow the brittle to cool for one hour. Once it has finished cooling, remove the sheet of brittle from the parchment paper and break the brittle into pieces using a meat tenderizer or clean hammer. Arrange the pieces on a serving platter and serve. Store excess brittle in a cool dry place.

WOW!  What an experience.  I had never been to a Trader Joe’s.   The second store in our state opened yesterday morning with the Mayor cutting the ribbon with a huge pair of scissors and people streamed through the doors at 8:00 a.m.  I had heard all the hype and got caught up in it (it has to do with shopping doesn’t it?) so I set my alarm and was up and out by 6:30 a.m.  I was in line at 7:00 a.m. and there were already at least 50 people ahead of me!  All this for the opening of a grocery store?  It was really wild!

As I have gotten older I have made it a point to try to eat a healthier diet consisting of more vegetables, whole grains, fruits and nuts and not so much meat, fat and desserts.  That being said I can understand why people like Trader Joe’s.  There are lots of options for those who are more health conscious that most.  Not to mention I met “Cheap Chuck” Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay.  Imagine buying wine for $2.99 a bottle and having it taste good?  Hard to believe.  It is in a bottle with a cork – not a box with a plastic screw top.  Have you ever tried Cookie Butter?  Amazing stuff!

Fast forward to today.   I went out and met some friends for lunch and a meeting.  Afterwards they were all abuzz about Trader Joe’s.  I was able to say that I had already been there and loved it.  They were surprised!

I can see I will be going back there in the future.  They have a new convert.

I just heard from my Foodie Pen Pal for the month of September.  She sounds really interesting.  I can hardly wait to see what she puts in the box.  This is my second month with the FPP Program and I think it is a wonderful way to make friends across the country.  Last month, my pal was Deb from a small town in Wisconsin.  I think she enjoyed the box she received.  Since this is a new adventure for me, I have just set up my blog as well.  Let’s see if this works!