Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Four Days of Christmas

We usually celebrate Christmas three times. Once with my immediate family, later that day with my in laws and sometime later in the week (after everything has gone on sale) we exchange hastily bought doodads with my parents, sister, her boyfriend and her daughter.

This year, my folks were in town for Christmas proper and we did a huge Christmas dinner for all these families.

I am still recovering. I had done a special meal for my in laws the night before. Then we did the HUGE 14 person meal on christmas. Then 2 nights later we did a simpler, but still substantial meal for the third party.

This is combined with almost no downtime from the kids since last Thursday, if you count working at a fairly intense job at an office as downtime (which I do, how sad is that?).

I am exhausted. I need a vacation. A real vacation with a beach, warm sand the texture of corn flour and a pile of trashy novels that I actually have time to read. This is not going to happen any time soon, but I can go there in my head. The sky is cerulean and the clouds are shaped like antique lace.

Tonight we're ordering wings and watching the patriots and this meal will generate little or no dishes. This is the next best thing, given the circumstances.

I'll leave you with my son's version of Skater Boi by Avrille Lavigne

He was a boy
He was a skater board
she said see you later board

he was a skater board
she said see you later board

Sunday, December 23, 2007

FIVE Pounds of Sugar in 2 days with Nothing to Show for It

Last week I wrote to my aunt in Minnesota and asked for my grandmother's fudge recipe. She sent it along with some words of wisdom and let me know that it was tricky.

So, I tried to make it. You have to boil it until it forms soft balls when dropped into a glass of cold water. Or until it's 236 degrees. My digital thermometer was out of whack. My dad did the dishes a few months back and it hasn't been the same since. I rescued it from the dishwasher before it went through, but the on off switch doesn't work and you have to pull out and push in the battery to get it to turn on. I had a bunch of lithium ion batteries on order from Amazon that were supposed to fix the problem. But I had made fudge before, so I should be able to figure it out, right? I cooked it until it formed what I thought were smushy round blobs in the water. But it wasn't enough. I ended up with fudge sauce.

So, undaunted, I e-mailed my aunt and asked her how long she usually cooks it for. She said it boils for about 15 minutes. So, I cooked it longer and ended up with fudge sauce.

Two batches of fudge, straight to the trash. So, yesterday, I got the batteries in the mail and I popped one into my instant read digital thermometer and lo and behold! It was working. I was poised to try again this morning.

I was cooking the fudge away testing it and realized that I hadn't even been close before, temperature-wise. The fudge was cranking along. I was cleaning up the first floor and testing the mixture with the thermometer every few minutes. It was just up to 120 degrees when the thermometer just switched off and wouldn't turn on again. ARGH! At this point, I am not proud of the words I used to talk to my thermometer and I jammed the battery in and out trying to get it to come on again. It was much like the scene in Office Space where the guy is swearing at the printer. It wasn't pretty. Thank God Rich had the kids off in another city. I doubt they would be the same again if they had heard the filth that was spewing from my mouth.

So, I tried the third time to figure out what the dammed soft chocolate balls were supposed to look like and stopped cooking when I thought I saw one.

But I ended up with a third bowl of FUDGE SOUP. ARGH!! So, I went to Tags and bought a new water proof instant read digital thermometer. And I came home and slammed the old one into the trash with EXTRA spite.

And today at noon I made my fourth, possibly successful batch of fudge. First of all, it takes more like 40 minutes to get it up to temp. And when it makes the little balls, there is no sludge in the glass along with them. That was the key thing I was missing in my methodology.

So, the fudge is in my fridge setting up. It's solid, but not rock-hard like it's supposed to be and I now what the soft balls are supposed to look like.

This is a good thing.

And I dropped a fully made key lime pie on the floor. Face down.

I'm just off to a great start with my holiday baking. I swear. I'm usually really good at the desserts.