LIMA — Mary Stepleton likes making candy so much, she has worn out a pot.
She’s now on candy pot No. 2.
Not that’s it’s fancy. She cares much more about how it works, not how it looks. The bottom half of an old 4-quart pressure cooker works just fine for her prized peanut brittle.
“I guess it’s the fact that it’s something that I can make. It’s a gift I can give to them,” Stepleton said of her candy. “And not everybody can do it.”
Stepleton, a Spencerville graduate, has been a family and consumer science teacher at Lima Senior High School for 11 years. Before that, she was in a similar role at Shawnee High School. At Shawnee, the home ec department would host a tea for the teachers, which is why she first tried making peanut brittle. Since then, she’s tweaked the recipe to make it her own. The addition of cinnamon and vanilla makes it richer, she said.
“The cinnamon and the vanilla are my secret ingredients,” Stepleton said. But the trick is using real ingredients, quality cinnamon and vanilla.
“Couple of keys to candy,” she said. “Accurate temperature … and quality ingredients, and exact measurements.”
Even though she’s made this peanut brittle more than 30 years, she hasn’t tired of it. Her father receives an entire batch for Christmas, and everyone else in the family lines up for their portion.
“It is a Christmas must. Everybody expects peanut brittle for Christmas,” she said.
Stepleton also enjoys making other types of candy as well as baking and preparing meals. She and her husband and their two children ate together as a family when the children were home, and now that they’re grown she and her husband continue in the tradition. She enjoys experimenting with new dishes.
“I still make mistakes,” she said. “Not as frequently, but I make them.”
Stepleton grew up cooking, taught by her grandmother and mother, and will continue.
“It’s just a gift I have that I want to share with others,” she said.
Have a suggestion for who should be featured in this spot? Email email@example.com.