Some of my best memories of cooking with Mom on the phone have to do with making fudge. Cherrye had it right when she commented that she could picture me calling my mother in the middle of a recipe and saying, “Ok, now what?”
One Christmas, my dear friend, Rosa, said that all she wanted was fudge. Running short of time and money, I decided to make it the old-fashioned way with the basic ingredients available in my pantry. I chose a recipe from the Farm Journal Homemade Candy cookbook that Mom had given me, and set to work to make fudge for the first time.
A few hours later, I was cutting into a pan of creamy, luscious, sweet perfection. As I wrapped the candy, I reflected on how easy the whole candy-making process had been. I didn’t know what to make of the fudge stories I had heard where goopy fudge was eaten with a spoon, or how it had hardened into a grainy mass.
Rosa has received homemade fudge at Christmas from me for more than 15 years, but not one batch has equaled the superiority of that first concoction. Year after year, I consulted with Mom on the phone as I attempted to redeem a pan of fudge.
“Ok, now what do I do (gasp) because I’ve beaten this stuff for half an hour (puff, puff) and both my arms are going to fall off.” Mom cheerily replied, “Oh, just keep beating.”
Another year, when I was really tired of beating, I asked what would happen if I used the Kitchen Aid mixer. She said to give it a try, and cautioned about overbeating. It was an anxious process, but it worked that time. The next year, I kept Andrew on stand-by, and used his strong arms to beat.
Calling Mom became a part of the fudge-making process. “Now what do I do with this fudge that has seized up in the pan like concrete with the spoon stuck in the middle of it?!” Ever cheery on all fudge catastrophes, Mom replied, “Put it back on the stove, add a little milk, reheat, don’t scorch.”
Sometimes I use Mom’s “never fail” fudge recipe with Marshmallow Creme as an ingredient. But I really like the traditional recipe because “fudging with Mom” on the phone is fun.