Last year at Christmastime, we were home shopping, selling our condominium, and trying to get pregnant. It was a lot to deal with at one time. My brother tells me I'm always trying to do two or three life-changing things in one year, and I think he's right. But you know, we had to get out of that condo if we were going to raise children. It was a lovely place for the two of us to live for the first four years of our marriage, but have I ever showed you the microwave that we had?
The handle, where you see the chip at the top, fell into some soup I was making one day, and I had to fish it out (in a restaurant, you would have thrown the soup away, but that isn't happening at my house.) And note the classy repair at the bottom of the handle:
Do you have new respect for me as a cook, or what?
Anyway, of course we had to replace the microwave before we sold the place. We replaced closet doors, cabinet fixtures, had the carpet steam-cleaned, repainted chipped areas of the walls and all that home-selling stuff... But let me tell ya, none of that stuff would have mattered if there were rubber bands and garbage bag ties on the microwave, would it?
Needless to say, with all the repairs, closing costs, a fat down payment on the new place, paying a realtor and a couple of home inspectors (we had a couple of homes we decided not to buy after the inspection), we were kind of short on funds last year. So I gave a whole lotta fudge away as gifts.
I doubled, or possibly tripled, my favorite fudge recipe (be warned - you need a BIG pot and a strong stirring arm for that so that the chocolatey mass doesn't burn) and let it all cool. Then I cut it into squares, and put the squares on small cupcake liners with a holiday theme. Then I put several into a wax-lined baked goods bag (they have all this stuff at the regular grocery store) and kept all the bags in the fridge. Just be warned: use the plastic or waxy bags, or you'll have what looks from the outside like a bag o' grease, and no one wants that in their stocking.)
I gave one to the realtor, one to a neighbor, two to my husband's bosses, some to coworkers, one to my architect patient who looked at a house's foundation for us for free, etc. They make great presents to have on hand for those kind of folks, and what's better than a homemade gift? And let's face it, any time I can get sweets without baking is an ideal situation for me.
My favorite fudge recipe is the one on the back of the Marshmallow Fluff jar: "Never Fail Fudge." That's right! "Ancient Chinese Secret, huh?"
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter or margarine
1 small can (5 oz.) evaporated milk
1 jar (7 1/2 oz.) Marshmallow FLUFF
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1 large (12 oz.) package semi-sweet chocolate pieces
Combine first five ingredients. Bring to a boil over a moderate heat, being careful not to mistake air bubbles for boiling. Then boil slowly, stiffing constantly, for five minutes (to soft ball stage.) Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate and vanilla until chocolate is melted. Then turn into a buttered 9 x 9 inch pan and cool (I prefer to put it into a foil-lined pan that has been sprayed with Pam, because it is easier to get it all out that way).
That old kitchen wasn't all bad... I sure do miss that gas stove! I'm still not used to the electric stove here. One day I will treat myself to a gas stove again. Until then, I will probably have several burned batches of fudge...