Fridays Weekend Column
Man is It Cold Again
by James Glaser
No it isn't twenty below, but it sure feels like it. I was outside today and every muscle in my body was tensed up because I felt so cold. I don't know if it is because the humidity is up, it is windy, or that I have shorter hair this winter, but I don't like it at all.
I went to town and got a beard trim as I am heading down to the Twin Cities and want to look good. I will be shopping at a chocolate shop. I never even knew that they had chocolate shops, but they do and I plan to buy a lot (for research only) so that I can make the same fudge with different chocolates and see what kind of difference that makes.
Sometimes I think of myself as a fudge scientist or maybe a fudge researcher. Now I don't think this type of work, if you can call it work, ranks right up there with cancer research, but dang it, somebody has to find out which fudge is truly America's best fudge and I am willing to put in the time and as I am finding out, put on the pounds to find this patriotic answer.
Fudge does bring a smile to who ever you give it to, except for those dieters who feel they will burn more calories if they frown while eating this chocolate candy.
Sunday night I was up late making a pecan fudge that called for flour, corn syrup, and cocoa. It never set up so I could cut it. You could take a spoon full and eat that and twenty minutes later you couldn't tell that a piece was taken as it would all flow back to cover that area. The only thing that would happen is that after every spoon full the whole batch in the pan got thinner. I tried this many times and I got the same results every time. I had to throw the whole batch, well what was left, out or I would have had to eat it all.
People have been sending me fudge recipes and truth be told many of them have the same ingredients, just different names, but I read them all and picked one out to try that sounded different, I choose Thomas Henry Tutone Fudge
Thomas Henry Tutone III, wrote to my telling me about his Grandfather's fudge and he called it Tommy Tutone Fudge. His grand dad moved west from Cape Cod and got into raising horses after WWI. Tommy, his son Tommy, and his Grand son Tommy, would have to move the horses down to winter pasture every fall and that is when grand dad would make his fudge, which his grandson said was just awful because he filled it with cranberries that his brother would send him from the family farm back east.
It seems that the senior Tutone chewed raw cranberries like most cowboys chew snoose. Well the younger Tommy wrote about their last trip together. The uncle had died back East, so cranberries never came that year and grand dad had to use craisins (sweetened dried cranberries) that he bought at the store on the way to the high pasture. The fudge went from just awful to just great with that one change and I tried making it and it is some very good fudge.
Like any fudge, you heat the sugar, butter, and milk to a liquid state and turn up heat, get it to 238 degrees and keep it there for five minutes stirring all the time or watch it crawl up the side of the pan and stir back down. Take pan off the heat, add marshmallows that you cut in half and the chocolate that you broke into pieces. Stir this all in until smooth, stir in vanilla and let it sit in the pan until it cools enough so that you can stick your finger in without burning it, then add the craisins and stir again and pour into a butter rubbed pan and let cool.
Once again it is up to the researcher to test the warm fudge left in the pan, writing down the all important notes on warm taste, texture, and what ever else pops into your mind while eating it.
Winter is the time to experiment in the kitchen. My kitchen is the brightest room in the house and with the stove going, the toastiest.
With the house all closed up in the winter it is nice to fill it with the smell of baking, but I have not solved the problem of cooking for one. When you just cook for yourself it is hard to motivate yourself into making something special. It is always a treat now to cook for someone else and I do like to present things on the plate that look good too. If you like, every plate of food can look like a relief sculpture or a painting by how you place the food on there. Also sitting in my kitchen, looking out at the huge expanse of white ice and snow on the lake is nice. The birds and squirrels try their best to put on a floor show and the heat coming from the cooling oven makes everyone relax. I am getting hungry just thinking about it.
I have been into fowl lately, Cornish game hens if alone and free range chicken if I have a guest. For sure stuffing, wild rice, baked sweet potato, and I do like cranberry sauce, but I can't eat them raw. Then a nice cup of coffee and a time in the easy chair is in order. In the summer I like to walk after a nice meal, but in the cold of winter I can sit back and relax.
I figure we have about eight more weeks of cold weather and then spring will jump out at us and we will have those two mud weeks that make you want to get in the garden. Then we will have 28 to 30 weeks of just perfect Minnesota weather and the cycle will start over again.
I have to stop myself from garden planning, because it will change many times between now and when I can actually start working things up. I know for sure I will get the new guest house closed in and usable this summer and I hope to have the gift shop up and running by the 4th of July. I hope my totally energetic children are reading this.
Right now I can smell the game hen I put in about 45 minutes ago, so I better set my table.
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