Today, MDW Beth made a significant contribution to the frontiers of culinary innovation, but before I reveal this epicurean advance, I must first digress to set the context.
Beth is an extraordinary person. Anyone that's seen her work for more than five minutes, rapidly comes to this conclusion. She's great handling medical emergencies in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), on air transports, or anywhere else for that matter. She's deft at handling people, whether in social, business, or medical situations, of any age, and no matter how pressure-filled the situation may be. She's extraordinarily well organized, and can create order out of chaos, often in a matter of minutes. Whatever, she does at home is done with the same precision, whether it's housework, needlepoint, quilting, or organizing activities for organizations of which she is a member. All is accomplished with the same care, efficiency and effectiveness as her work at the hospital. Everything has a plan, usually in the form of a written list, and for multiple activities, all things that can be interleaved are efficiently and effectively “parallelized” (as we say in the computer biz).
As I've mentioned, I've known her for a long time. And, she has one other interesting feature. She doesn't make mistakes. People that know me that don't know Beth, might think I'm being sarcastic about that. But, I'm not! For the first forty years I've known her she never once (to my knowledge) ever made a mistake. However, within the last four or five years, she has averaged about one mistake per year. I'm dead serious. Each time one of these happens, I'm quite surprised.
BTW, it's not unusual, in Beth's family for people to be extraordinary. These are the nicest and most able group of people I have ever met.
Among this unusual group is Beth's 96-year-old Aunt Betty (her father's sister). Quite by accident, I've known a part of Aunt Betty's family for longer than I have known Beth. (We've been married for 44 years.) At ninety six, Betty (all 4 ft 10 in of her) has survived two husbands, and, alas, both of hers sons (one of whom -- Lucas, I used to play basketball with at the Evanston YMCA, ca 1966, before I met Beth). Anyways, Betty is a favorite of our entire extended family, most especially my daughter and my grandson. She has the personality and sense of humor of an artistic (she was an artist, who only lately because of progressive loss of vision, has finally had to curtail her art) imp.
At regular intervals, Beth sends Aunt Betty a care package, most often of home-made treats, and often featuring her Dad Bert's recipe for homemade caramel corn. Now, as I may have mentioned, I've never been a fan of really sweet things, and I have always found the caramel corn (even this variety which is chock full of nuts -- and one of my favorite foods) unattractive. This is good, because at 306 pounds (where I started my weight journey), one might of thought I would be a threat to the prompt resupply of Betty's caramel corn stash.
This morning Beth began the process of making Betty about a bushel (not an exaggeration) of caramel corn. She makes it in such large qualities, because Betty lives in Michigan and we live in NH, AND her Dad always made it in these wholesale-sized batches. (Probably because it takes so long to clean up afterward.) As she was mixing, and cooking and baking, I commented, “Is this a prelude to your forthcoming book, 'Longevity and the Caramel Corn Diet!'” Her reply? “Maybe!”
Anyway, while she was baking the caramel corn, after mixing, she mis-set the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, instead of 250, and then went upstairs to work in her sewing room. Sure enough, when she timer indicated so, she opened the oven, there was some smoke coming out and the entire top layer of the caramel corn was carbonized.
While she was seeing whether she could salvage any part of the first two large trays of caramel corn, she separated the blackened top into a separate pan, and for some reason I sampled the blacked, semi-gooey mess, and discovered that the “vulcanization” process had rendered away the cloying sweetness of the “corn”. Since, I am now trying to gain weight, and had inadvertently lost a pound since yesterday, I helped myself to about 4 ounces. I'm hooked, vulcanized caramel corn is delicious!
This was her mistake for this year, and through blind luck, and happenstance, I am the beneficiary.