Betty Crocker Cookbooks, Fudge, Pictures, and Home

I have two bright red Betty Crocker Cookbooks.  One is copyright 1972.  It has lots and lots of smudges.  Especially on the page for fudge.  Oh, how many times I tried to make penuche (brown sugar) fudge, without the nuts of course. 

What I made tasted wonderful, but it was never quite right.  Always just a tiny bit grainy or maybe a lot grainy.  Oh how I agonized over that recipe.  You have to stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved.  Was the sugar dissolved yet?  Of course I had to lift the spoon out and feel it with my finger and see if I could feel sugar and see if I could taste sugar grains.  And of course with a gas stove defining medium heat was a little tricky.

Then there was 234 degrees on the candy thermometer and the soft ball test.  Did it have to be a precise ball?  Of course, after the cooking, you had to cool it down, and then mix “vigorously” until it was “smooth and no longer glossy.”  How glossy is no longer glossy?  How vigorous is vigorous?

As an adult, I bought a book on making fudge but I don’t think I ever did make it again.  Incidentally, it said that humid weather is great for making fudge.  I wonder if that was our problem in California….

Then, a few months ago, much to my own surprise, I tackled a recipe for cinnamon brittle.  I followed the candy thermometer and waited and waited for it to get to the right temperature — and took it off the heat the moment it did — and the candy then proceeded to incinerate!  I learned that maybe my thermometer measured a little low.  And thought some day I should try something easier, something softer on my teeth, like fudge….

Yesterday, I cooked a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for my son and me.  For Thanksgiving dinner I pull out the Betty Crocker cookbook I bought with the gift certificate we got as a wedding gift, copyright 1986.  It’s also bright red, but in loose leaf with a wipe-clean cover.  It’s where I go for my two very favorite Thanksgiving recipes — mushroom stuffing and candied sweet potato slices.  Mmmm, I love that stuffing recipe.  It’s basically celery, onions and mushrooms fried in butter and mixed with bread cubes and some spices, but yum yum!  I do dutifully fix it early and stuff it in the turkey, but the truth is I like best what I just cook in a dish on the side.  I really need to cut the recipe in half or a quarter, because I never ever stuff such a huge turkey — but there’s no leftovers I like better!  And I don’t make it any other time, and it keeps well, so what’s the harm in it?  Yep, I stick Handel’s Messiah in the CD player and start chopping celery and onion and mushrooms and it’s holiday time in my heart!

And then, of course, the candied sweet potatoes.  As I was mixing the brown sugar and butter and cinnamon, I got to thinking:  How is this any different from fudge?  I’ve really got to make fudge….


Last night as we were sitting down to pumpkin pie, my husband arrived to get my son for the weekend.  (We had expected that traffic would make him later than usual, but I suspect he got off work much earlier than usual, because it was the earliest he’s showed up in a long time.)  So I have a grand and lovely weekend all to myself.

And this morning I woke up to find my headache of fifteen days actually mostly gone!  It’s making little visits, but is mostly leaving me in blissful, happy, glorious freedom!

So, what could I do?  I decided it was time to MAKE FUDGE!

And the crazy thing?  That fudge came out absolutely positively perfect!  It is melt-in-your-mouth not a hint of graininess magnificent brown sugar fudge. (Excuse me.  I need to make sure I’m telling the precise truth.  Yep.  Creamy. Fudgy.  Delicious.  Mmm.)  Now, remember how I learned that humidity helps with fudge-making?  Well, today was definitely humid.  But I feel a little bad for my poor child self.  If that’s all there was to it, how come it was so hard for her?  (But, boy was I glad I learned that lesson about my candy thermometer — I stopped cooking before it got to 234 degrees because it did, in fact, pass the soft ball test.  I’m glad I did!)  Now, I did plenty of testing, but probably not, in fact, as much as my child self used to do.  So maybe there’s something in that.

Anyway, now alone in my house with a pan of absolutely perfect fudge, two questions remain.  The first is will my headache be able to stay away if I ingest that much sugar?  The second is will there be any left for my son to taste when he gets home Sunday night?  Of course that brings up a third question:  Is there any reason for him to know that there was any fudge?

So far, consuming the end of the pan of fudge (Hey!  I had leftover turkey dinner, too!) has only gotten my headache better, so I call that positive reinforcement.  Hmm.  A friend was wondering if my headaches might be related to hypoglycemia.  I wonder if this would support or refute that hypothesis?

I’m also in a great mood (or is that a sugar high?) because today I really and truly finished putting up all the pictures on my walls.  Yes, I still have a few boxes to unpack.  But for me the true measure of when you are moved into a new home is when you have your pictures on the walls.

It’s tricky for this move.  So many of the pictures include my husband.  What do I want on my walls for this my new life? 

Mostly I’m including the happy young family pictures.  I’m including the pictures of the boys, young and joyful.  I’m including the pictures of us traveling all over Europe.

Most of the pictures we had on our walls always were ones that I took.  Steve never took much interest in what we put on our walls — Usually I’d drag him into helping me decide what to put up, but he’d let me put up whatever I wanted.  So I haven’t changed too much since he left.

And most of the pictures are my own photographs.  Photographs of castles.  Photographs of beautiful places.  Photographs of places that make my spirit soar.  And of course photographs of people I love in beautiful castles that make my spirit soar.

When I moved into this place, I said that it felt a lot more home-y than the apartment where I was before.  That’s even more true now that I have my own pictures, symbolizing my dreams, on my walls.  I do need to get some more current pictures up there next — but I think I will do that by getting myself a digital photo frame for Christmas and filling it with digital photos.  But that’s a whole new project!

As for the boxes, I had four piled in my closet, and I decided that I would empty the contents onto my bed on each of my four remaining days off in November.  So I will be dealing with the contents of box one before I go to bed tonight.  I am already excited because I discovered where my Blocking pins were hiding, and now I can block and sew up that sweater I finished knitting this summer!

Okay, that was all a long digression.  It was a lovely Thanksgiving Day.  I didn’t exactly get a lot of writing done, though I did spend fifteen minutes on my novel.  I still want to do a few more things this weekend before I officially declare myself moved in, but I am feeling much much more at home.

And my headache is worlds better, perhaps even gone!  And I am so very very thankful!

Here are my NaNoWriMo stats:

Words on my novel in November: 14,766.

Words on my blogs in November: 11,916

Total words written in November on my novel plus blogs:  26,682.

So I’m happy that I at least got past the halfway point, even with a record-breaking mind-blowing headache.  Life is good!


  1. Too bad it doesn’t look like anyone else will get a chance to taste this fudge, since I’m cooped up in the house alone with it for a few more days. It can remain the great myth of my life… Yeah, well, that time I made fudge on Thanksgiving, it came out PERFECT!

  2. Sondy
    I’m thrilled that you not only got your pictures up but that you tackled “fudge” and won. 🙂

  3. I have a recipe for fudge that sounds a lot easier than yours. But it’s not brown sugar fudge. Maybe that’s the difference? There’s white sugar, but the instructions just say to mix and boil it for six minutes, no candy thermometer or anything, and it’s worked when I’ve tried it.

    But I don’t want to steal your thunder about making perfect fudge! Continue to use your harder recipe, it sounds more satisfying! =)

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