Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fudge victory?


So I wrassled with the candy thermometer and the soft ball stage today in a good-hearted attempt to make my sister-in-law one of the few sweet things she likes for her birthday. It's alarming to me that such people, people who don't eat dessert, exist alongside the rest of us normal people and we may never know it. Why peanut butter fudge for her birthday on Thanksgiving? She had a surprise party closer to the actual day, but we always do family things, too. And she had the misfortune to be born during deer season, so it's impossible to plan anything else. Thank goodness for national holidays which take precedence over deer camp. Most of the time.

Anyway, as I was wrasslin' all the ingredients together, I was really sorry I had never helped my mom make this. And even sorrier I couldn't just call her to ask her in-depth opinon on low and medium heats and when to cover or uncover and what it means for the steam to dissolve the sugar crystals on the side of the pan. (All you "cooks" out there just ignore this, please, I can't help it that my food mainly comes from the frozen food section.) Trying to maintain the traditions is just so stressful because it feels really important to be perfect. So much depends on the peanut butter fudge (or pralines, or fruit salad, or mashed potatoes). I was supposed to have more time with her to learn these things, and we didn't spend our time in the kitchen. This fudge is like a cornerstone of my holiday, so I have to get it right, but I'm not sure I made it this time. I did learn some important lessons for next time.
1. I inherited my mom's entire kitchen. The next time I try this, I'm going to use the pan she used. Duh! I didn't come to this conclusion until I was boiling out of my pan. Consequently, I'm almost certain I missed soft ball stage.
2. Making candy is dangerous business. Boiling sugar stuff sticks immediately and burns. It burns.
3. Cursing helps, even if it's under your breath.
4. Liquid peanut butter fudge tastes good. The sugar high also makes everything better.
5. A watched pot never goes from boiling to lukewarm...or it takes a long time, anyway.
6. Never tell someone you're going to make them a special treat unless you're certain you can do it. If the peanut butter fudge doesn't set right, the disappointment will be crushing. Not hers. Mine. I had such visions of perfection!

Oh, well, time to move on to something I know I can dumplings! Yum!


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