Caramel Corn, originally uploaded by jen d. cox.

One of the best things about this time of year is making & sharing caramel corn. This batch turned out perfectly–not a bit of crystallization.

Baked Carmel Corn

This recipe came from Jiffy Pop years ago. It melts in your mouth and is quite addicting.

6 qts. (24 C) popped popcorn
1 C (2 sticks) butter or margarine
2 C brown sugar, packed
½ C light or dark corn syrup
1 tsp. salt (½ tsp. more if using unsalted butter)
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 250°F. In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to simmer; boil without stirring to 257°F, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in soda and vanilla. Gradually pour over popped popcorn, mixing well. Turn into 2 large shallow baking or roasting pans. Bake at 250°F 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven; cool completely. Break apart and store in tightly covered container. Makes about 5 qts. caramel corn.

Tips:

* You’ll need a very large bowl to make this–at least 24 C.
* Margarine is good but butter is better.
* When boiling the caramel, take care not to let any sugar crystals touch the side of the pan. Even one little crystal will cause the caramel to crystalize in the oven. I use a condiment bottle to squirt water on the sides of the pan when it begins to boil. The water boils away before the caramel reaches the proper temperature.
* If using a candy thermometer, keep the temperature in the 257-260°F range, removing from heat a little early, if necessary. Any higher than 260°F and the caramel becomes difficult to work with.
* I like to line my baking pans with non-stick foil so more of the caramel sticks to the popcorn instead of the pan.
* When removing it from the oven, spread caramel corn out on parchment paper. It’s easier to break up the kernels while it’s still hot.

He wanted another pack of Skittles but his mom said "no."

I love the description Toby asked me to write on this picture from school:

He wanted another pack of Skittles, but his mom said “No.”

Toby’s not the only artist in the family. Ethan & Samantha both have art on exibit at their school art show. The theme is Van Gogh’s Daisies.

Ethan’s Daisy:

Sunflower

Sam’s Field of Daisies:

Sam's Field of Daisies painting

And last but not least I leave you with Randy’s art from Pizano’s in Chicago:

Randy's drawing, Pizano's

You can see more photos from our fall break trip to Chicago here.

Just thought I’d share recent caricature drawings of the kids from St. Vincent’s open house for their newest medical center.

From Misc. 2008
From Misc. 2008
From Misc. 2008

Last Christmas Randy, his dad Rick, brother Adam & brother-in-law Jeff all received skydiving gift certificates for Christmas. They did their jumps in Richmond, Indiana in July. I’m really not sure what I thought of skydiving up to that point. The idea of jumping out of an airplane certainly wasn’t appealing, but the falling part (provided there was a soft landing) did sound cool. After watching Randy jump, I knew I’d like to do it someday. But it’s not cheap, so I figured it would be years out (if ever).

From Skydiving

So imagine my surprise when Randy IM’s me a month ago. Our conversation went a little somethin’ like this:

12:42:11 PM Randy: What are you doing on Saturday, September 20, at 10am?
12:42:38 PM Randy: In Greensburg?
12:42:46 PM Jen Cox: Huh?
12:42:55 PM Randy: I think you’re skydiving.
12:43:05 PM Jen Cox: Wha?
12:43:55 PM Randy: Some friends of someone here at Compendium are putting together a group to go skydiving in Greensburg, and they got a great deal.
12:44:04 PM Jen Cox: How much?
12:44:16 PM Randy: Not the regular price of $239.
12:44:32 PM Randy: Not the normal group discount price of $189.
12:44:43 PM Randy: But the AWESOME discount price of $169.
12:45:13 PM Jen Cox: Now there’s no way I’ll be able to sweet-talk you into letting me go on the OTR cruise. (:
12:45:15 PM Randy: So, do you want to go skydiving for your birthday/anniversary present?
12:45:25 PM Jen Cox: How can I refuse?
12:45:29 PM Randy: How much is the cruise?
12:45:54 PM Jen Cox: Oh, the cheap cabin is $749. Airfair not included, of course.
12:45:57 PM Randy: You could say that you’d rather not go skydiving. That’s how.
12:46:10 PM Randy: Oh, this is WAY cheaper, and far more dangerous.
12:46:14 PM Jen Cox: (:
12:46:20 PM Randy: So, are you in?
12:46:23 PM Jen Cox: All right–sign me up!
12:46:27 PM Randy: Cool.
12:46:36 PM Jen Cox: That’s crazy.
12:46:40 PM Jen Cox: You’re awesome.

And the video…

From Jen Skydiving
From Jen Skydiving

Adam’s Video
Photos of Jen’s jump
Photos of Randy’s & the guys’ jumps

Land Ho!

Land Ho!

We went to Stuckey Farm yesterday. The kids had fun playing on the pirate ship. Sam & Toby fought over who got to be captain. Great fun was had by all.

Oh, yeah–and we picked apples!

Samantha didn’t have any clean pajamas the other night, so I dug one of Randy’s old shirts out of the closet. Of course, Toby wanted one, too. Luckily, I had just the thing.

Randy & a friend recently went to a junkyard looking for car parts. He didn’t find the main part he wanted but found a few other things on his list. One was the little motor that opens the driver-side back window on the van. Another was a replacement sunroof for the Altima. Very exciting! The trim had come loose a while back. One beautiful day as I was retracting the roof I heard an awful crunching sound. I didn’t realize until later that it had totally chewed up the trim. (Oops!) I called a Nissan dealer and inquired about replacement trim. The trim, itself, was $76. A complete replacement sunroof would be $500. (Yowza!) Randy paid under $15 for the replacement and had it installed in no time. Go, Randy!