I've been seeing the phrase "casting about" a lot recently. We are casting about for someone to blame, a shelf to place our growing anger on, a reason for why we feel everything is so wrong right now. Political candidates are casting about for a reason for being. The unemployed are casting about for jobs that don't exist. You'd think this was a nation of terrible fishermen.
The problem, though, is that there seems to be nothing to cast about for. There is just not enough for us right now -- money, healthy food, affordable houses, jobs, hospital beds, teachers, intelligent conversation.
But what would happen if we all said, I will give something? I will give $5 to you. I will give a meal to that man. I will give books to a library. I will give you 30 minutes of my time, or an hour. I will give you the quiet space you need to figure things out. I will forgive you. What would happen then? Would we find that somehow, again, we have more than enough, if only for a little while?
I'm not thinking about this because of Christmas. I am chewing this over because, in the search to save ourselves, we seem to have lost our human generosity of spirit. We have forgotten that in order to fix our own lives, we must take care with those around us, including -- especially -- they who we'll never encounter ourselves.
In that spirit, what I can give you? I have English Toffee. Will that work? It is the simplest of things, and the rewards are deeply satisfying. Let's start with that.
(my mom's recipe)
1 stick of butter
1 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup of sliced almonds
8 oz. chocolate of your choice (Despite its waxy taste, Hershey's works well for this, but use whatever piques your fancy)
Spread almonds evenly on a buttered cookie sheet. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, salt and water, and cook on medium-high heat (don't stir it) until the mixture reaches the hard-crack stage (that's about 300 degrees on a candy thermometer). Pour the mixture evenly over the almonds. Break up your chocolate into 1-inch squares, and place them on the sugar mixture. As they melt, use a wooden spoon or spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the candy. Let the entire mixture cool (I usually throw the pan into the freezer), and break it up into pieces when the chocolate is set.
I dare you to not eat the whole pan yourself.