A Little Dust Never Hurt Anyone--Except Me by Reese Mobley

Like everyone else in America, we have many holiday traditions.  I chose to blog about one that is very near and dear to my heart.  And the stomachs of my friends and family.


For as long as I can remember I've made Christmas candy and through the years each of my kids have taken a turn at helping me.  They usually give up after the first hour or so, but that's okay.  I think that's all it took before they appreciated how much work and love it takes to make the batches and batches of sweetness.

Most years I have good luck in the kitchen, but I've had my mishaps along the way too.  Peanut brittle that didn't get brittle or toffee that needed to be eaten with a spoon are just a few.  Probably the most memorable candy making experience happened 29 years ago when I was nine months pregnant with my first son.  

 It was right after Thanksgiving and I was huge at that point but I decided not to let that slow me down.  The candy needed to be made before the baby came because I knew my free time would disappear once my newborn arrived.

Everything was going smoothly.  I was on a roll.  And then I started itching.  Like crazy.  I dug my skin raw.  This went on for days.  I took oatmeal baths.  Went through bottles of lotion but nothing helped.  Finally, one evening I couldn't take it anymore so I asked my husband to take me to the emergency room.  We discussed with the doctor what I'd done over the last week that could have triggered this reaction.  He listened intently.  Asked questions, left the room and soon returned with an answer we didn't expect.

Cashews are related to the poison ivy plant.  I'd crushed the nuts in the food processor and breathed in the nut dust before adding them to the butter mixture that makes up the base of the toffee.  

He told me to take some Benadryl and relax.  Which I did as soon as I got home.  I woke up.  My water broke and fourteen hours later I held my new baby.  

My husband is now in charge of chopping cashews, although I think I'll ask my oldest son to do it this year.  Just for old times sake.



Melissa Robbins said...

How crazy! I had no idea cashews were related to the poison ivy plant.

Envious you make candy. I've never tried it. I'm quite fond of the soft peppermint sticks my grandmother always had available AND the divinity. Yum!

Joan Vincent said...

I've always done massive bread, cookie and candy making for Christmas baskets we gave as gifts. One candy I've never had luck with is divinity. My Mom made the best divinity but I can't get it to whip and set up no matter what I do. I always said it was because I didn't have that big Sunbeam mixer Mom used to make double batches, or the weather was too damp. I can still see and taste those plates of divine divinity and fudge Mom always put out on Christmas Eve.