High on bluff in Atchison, Kansas, overlooking the winding Missouri River sits the steadfast monastic community of St. Benedict's Abbey. In 1857 three monks established the community and as it grew they spread the gospel to the wild American west and co-founded the schools that are today Maur Hill-Mount Academy and Benedictine College. Today, St. Benedict's Abbey continues a 1500 year old monastic tradition of prayer, work and hospitality.
I will quickly admit that St. Benedict's Abbey is one of my absolute favorite places on Earth. And the rich yet simple "Rule of St. Benedict" is handbook of wisdom that applies not only to those of religious life, but a "rule" that we attempt to adhere to on our own family farm. We especially strive to follow the St. Benedict's motto of "Ora et Labora" (Prayer and Work) And, it's funny where the work can take you.
A few years ago, right before Christmas, Brother Leven Harton found himself needing to raise funds for a mission trip to El Salvador. Fueled by creativity, inspiration and a sense of humor he sent his friends and family Christmas cards accompanied with homemade peanut brittle - made with his own hands. Attached was a note, gently (no....blatantly) pointing out that with all of the hours of sweat and labor he had put into their small gift, wouldn't they like to give a small gift of a few dollars in return? And you know what? It worked. It worked well.
From those humble beginning a cottage industry has grown. And grown. I'm thrilled to introduce you to, Benedict's Brittle:
Pretty cool, huh? The video is a couple years old now, but the essentials are still exactly the same. Even though their numbers and production have impressively grown, the handmade personal touch is still apparent. As I embark on my personal review I should start by saying that I've never cared for peanut brittle. However, the gorgeous modern and minimalistic packaging absolutely stole my heart.
Pretty snazzy, huh?
The great care and attention that goes into each step is obvious.
They also include information on the intruiging Carolina Black peanut variety explained in the above video.
And, since I admitted that I've never cared for peanut brittle, I will now admit that I almost singlehandedly consumed this entire tin of brittle...within a shamefully short period of time. Apparently, I love Benedict's Brittle.... And seriously, I think everyone would! Where else can you find such a mix of history, spirituality and good eats - all wrapped up, canned and placed directly in your hands?
Br. Leven and the rest of the monks are now taking orders for the 2012 Christmas season. You can find more information, or order your own tins or as gifts for loved ones, through the following venues:
St. Benedict's Abbey Website: KansasMonks.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/BenedictsBrittle (Be sure to like them!)