I grew up in the mountains of Colorado where people live on acres but still everyone knows everyone else. If someone moves in. There is a coffee or party or something so you can meet them. My mother is too blind to drive and she gets a ride into the pool every week with one neighbor. Another owns a nursery/greenhouse were you can order plants or flowers. So if I want to send flowers to my mother I always order from her. Most won't deliver up there and she will bring it up when she gets out from work. The nearest bus is two miles away. When I used to walk to and from the stop I would get offers from the neighbors for a ride, so I wouldn't have to walk as far. My dad had a tractor and a plow for it. On the rare times the county couldn't get to our little dirt road for days, he would plow it. The fast internet is a co-op which was started by my dad. The women would gather yearly to make crafts and sell them for money for our volunteer fire department (which at the time wasn't funded by taxes, but that has changed). We all relied on everyone else.
City living is different. You might say hi to your close neighbors, but the ones two doors down, you might not know at all. I'd gotten to know a few of our neighbors, but not many. People really keep to themselves. They will return the hi, but don't want to talk. So this year I made up 10 holiday baskets. It is amazing how people will open up at least a bit when you give them something homemade. It was nice to talk at least a few minutes to those that surrounded me.
One just two doors down is also another MIT couple (both my hubby and I have degrees from MIT). So we chatted a bit. One neighbor I really have been wanting to meet. He composts; he has a garden; he plays with boffers with his son. (Boffers are foam swords and my daughter and I took German longsword classes years ago, so they are well known to us). He must be our kind of neighbor. Right? He lives right behind me, but the fence is 6' tall and we can't talk over the fence. Well we gave the basket to his daughter who answered the door. Then the next day he came to our door with his own home made gifts. Pickled quail eggs and mint mead. We talked for quite a while and I invited him to my birthday party.
Of the 10 baskets only 9 were delivered. The other we could never find. I'm guessing they are gone for the holidays. Do you all want to know what was in those baskets? Well too bad I'm telling you anyway. So here goes. I made blueberry ginger jam, chocolate fudge (Fluff never fail fudge, not the harder to make kind), English Toffee, whole wheat ginger snaps, oatmeal raisin cookies, Russian tea cakes, and snickerdoodles. I have to say. The family really enjoyed eating the last basket.
Daphne's English Toffee
- 2 c butter
- 2 1/2 c brown sugar
- T corn syrup (more or less I never measure this, just a little)
- T water (more or less I never measure this, just a little)
- chocolate chips
- slivered or chopped almonds (optional)
Prepare two pans ( I use either 9x13s or cookie sheets) by lining with parchment paper. Sprinkle with almonds so the pans are just covered. Put the first four ingredients in a large saucepan. Heat slowly stirring until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Cook over medium heat (stirring not necessary) until you reach 290F on a candy thermometer. Now most recipes call for 300F, but if I do that it starts to burn too much. So I go to 290F. Pour half the candy into one pan and half in the other. Let it cool for about five minutes then sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Once they melt spread the chocolate over the top evenly. Let it cool until it is cool enough to go into the fridge. Then put in the fridge until totally cool. Take out and break into pieces.