December is the time for nostalgia – at least when it comes to food. My best friend and I took a pledge not to buy anything for each other this Christmas, but to come up with homemade gifts. She’s probably drawing me something beautiful, or crafting something that would put Martha Stewart to shame.
But, since my creative talents begin and end in the kitchen, Gwyn’s known from square one that I would be sending her something to eat.
Figuring out what to make necessitated reaching back into our collective childhood. Gwyn’s been my best friend since the 6th grade, when since our names sounded alike, and we followed one another in alphabetical order, we were either destined for lifelong friendship, or to despise one another. Luckily, we choose the former. Even if she did score exactly 3 points more than me on every test up until we finished high school. Except in Chemistry. Then she scored thirty points more…
My mom wasn’t much of a cook. Her recipe collection was clipped from women’s magazines, backs of jars and cans, food that featured brand-name products, or potato chip toppings. But a few of those consumer driven, create-a market-recipes were really good – perfect comfort foods, even if they have no food snob appeal. I still love the dubiously named “Polynesian Chicken”, originally published on the back of a box on Minute Rice. Okay, both Gwyn and I make it differently today, without the mass-produced parboiled rice, (I can’t find that one on the web, though there are a lot of recipes going by that name. I guess the people at Minute Rice aren’t as attached to it as I am.) But the point is, we both still make it. Unlike the potato chip topped tuna casserole.
So Gwyn’s getting a batch of Foolproof Fudge for Christmas. A recipe my mom used to make around the holidays, something she clipped from a magazine sometime in the late 70’s. And one that’s still featured on Borden’s website, after all these years.
Even the way I’m making it now, with organic sweetened condensed milk and high-quality fair-trade chocolate, it’s a stretch to call it sustainable food – and there’s nothing local about it. But, it is just as good as I remember, (especially if you add a bit more salt, toast the nuts ahead of time, and add in a few tablespoons of Baileys’ Irish Cream.)
Foolproof Fudge may be low-rent, but it is much easier than making traditional fudge, (listen to this hilarious episode of Spilled Milk, if you don’t believe me) and what it lacks in prefect texture, it more than makes up for in decadent taste. That’s coming from someone who is crazy enough to make her own bread and granola from scratch.
I dare you to try it. And I hope that it’s the kind of gift Gwyn had in mind.