Though in the past I have made the mistake of promising treats, I now offer a collective apology to anyone expecting Christmas goodies. Here’s some insight into your gastronomic loss.
I discovered Allrecipes.com in June 2005, an internet site where cooks from everywhere share favorite recipes, with a rating system by other cooks who try them. For Christmas 2005, I decided to try these multi-starred recipes: Strawberry bread, old-fashioned cooked fudge, pound cake, cocoa drop cookies, and “never fail” sugar cookies.
I first tackled the strawberry bread, as the color appealed to me. Though I remain “presentation challenged,” I thought it would be pretty served sliced and fanned around a center of white cream cheese. The bread never rose. It not only remained 2 inches high—it never completely cooked through. It was so heavy and rubbery I could bend it 180 degrees and it only stretched, didn’t even crack. Seeing as I had another package of frozen strawberries, I hastily e-mailed the local newspaper food editor for her diagnosis and advice. She surmised I had not drained enough liquid off the strawberries. Nope, I didn’t, as the recipe never mentioned that step. The cocoa drop cookies and pound cake were equally disappointing. I didn’t bother with the never fail sugar cookies.
My final act of bravado was the old fashioned cooked fudge. My previous ventures in fudge making had ended up with great-tasting pudding. While watching the Food Network, I discovered the “nerd pocket clip” on the candy thermometer was meant to clip the thermometer to the sauce pan, not for carrying around in a giant’s breast pocket! Armed with that knowledge, I thought fudge would be a cinch. After watching Food Network southern cook extraordinaire, Paula Deen, make fudge using beaters to accomplish the last step of fudge making, I felt destined to try making fudge once more.
I handled the cooking and cooling steps without problems. The final step was beating the nuts and butter into the fudge mixture, to a high gloss, before placing it in a buttered pan. I soon realized my hand mixer was simply not up to the task. The mixer started to overheat—long before the fudge was glossy. I tried to compensate by moving my arm faster, in a circular motion, hoping to give the beaters a boost. Unfortunately, I dropped the mixer. Both beaters broke free, and seeing their chance to escape, leapt out of the pot, dancing and salsa-ing their way down the kitchen counter, toward the sink—probably in an effort to cool off. I watched in utter fascination as the beaters tossed out fudge droplets like Mardi Gras favors, splattering all static and non-static kitchen surfaces.
The mixer, not to be outdone, lumbered down the path of the beaters to freedom, yanking the cord out of the wall in a final act of protest. The cat escaped the area with just a tiny blob on her tail, but I couldn’t even get a sense of where the beaters had gone as fudge droplets obscured my glasses, adorned the coffee pot, toaster oven, counter top, cabinet doors, the ceiling, the floor, my T-shirt, the mini blinds, and even the toe of my left slipper sock. The mixer came to rest in the left sink; the beaters exhausted themselves into the right side, rather poetically I thought.
I cleaned up the mess, put the “fudge” mixture in the prepared buttered pan (I had to do something with it!), and have since vowed to do no more seasonal treat cooking. Interestingly, my daughter called me (while on my way to the food bank), to tell me that the fudge was delicious.
The Second Harvest Food Bank that year received from me four boxes of confectioner’s sugar, one can of sweetened condensed milk, two graham crackers crusts, and the two jars of Maraschino cherries.
All I want for Christmas is a KitchenAid … I hope you understand!