Thanks for the Peanut Brittle

from Meg’s Blog:

For years now, every fall once the weather was cool enough and the humidity was right, a woman in Michigan named Patricia Anderson would begin making peanut brittle. I suppose she gave away lots to friends and family, but all I know for sure is that she always made sure two batches made their way to Jeff at work. Her husband is a train collector, and collects K-Line stuff. She also always sent word that Jeff was not to take both batches home, but to make sure that Sherman (a colleague) got some too!

Jeff always passed the peanut brittle on to Sherman, but he always brought some home, too. I love peanut brittle in general, and this was perfect brittle. The mix of flavors, the consistency, the crunchiness… everything was exactly as it should be. I was always happy to share with my family, since they love peanut brittle, too, but sometimes I ate all of our share before they could have some. I didn’t mean to, but it was that addictive.

Even without ever meeting her, I felt like I knew Patricia. I knew, for example, that she took her brittle making very seriously. Sometimes the brittle was late, because the weather wasn’t right. She used the same spoon, pot and pan to make the brittle year in and year out. One year the spoon that Patricia had used for years broke; she was afraid the brittle would be affected the next year. From my perspective, whatever replacement spoon she found worked just as well as the original, because the brittle was as good as it had always been. As someone who uses the same pan to bake biscuits, to the point of occasionally taking it with me on vacation, I understand and applaud that sort of single minded devotion to one’s cooking accessories!

Patricia Anderson was diagnosed with cancer this summer, and died 32 days later. She left behind a family that includes her husband of 41 years, Charles, and children and grandchildren. She also, though, left behind who knows how many people whose winters were a little more special because of a box of peanut brittle in the mail.

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