When I was a kid, my Mom used to make the best fudge ever. She also made fudge sauce. You may think some store makes the best fudge but you'd be wrong.
I haven't had the fudge in years. Probably decades. She didn't make it often, even when I was a kid, but when she did, it was fudgasm.
Sometime before Christmas, I began thinking about trying to make some fudge, and asked for the recipe. My Mom revealed that she'd given me one of those cookbooks women's groups put together in the 60s and 70s to raise money, the Local Schoolhouse PTA Cookbook, that sort of thing. It turns out I have four of those from different fundraising things. And my brother does, too, she says. (I guess she was thinking ahead, eh?)
I didn't get around to trying to make fudge during finals, but I took the recipe book with me to my siblings, and it sounded appealing to all. So one evening my Sister-in-Law and I started making fudge. We read the directions, mixed the sugar, cocoa, and salt well, added the milk, and started heating, stirring occasionally. We were consulting and working together.
But apparently, we weren't doing it right, or so my Mom said, when she said, no, not like that, like this, here, let me show you. And she took over, with an assist from my sibling. My Sister-in-Law and I stood by, watching, and keeping out of the way.
It took me back to being a kid, and trying to do something in the kitchen, and being told, no, that's not right, let me show you, and then I'd stand around supposedly watching and lose interest. You might think, well, B, you should have stood your ground, but I learned quickly that if I stood my ground, I'd inevitably do something imperfect, and then I'd hear about that for a good long time. So I learned to not even bother to try. (It's a bad thing to learn.)
So I have a theory about cooking with kids. It's easy for me to have a theory, since I don't have kids to test it, but here it is: it should be okay for stuff to not turn out perfectly, especially the first few times. It should also be okay for there to be a bit of a mess, so long as blood is on the inside. Again, I don't have kids to test the theory.
Back at the ranch, the fudge turned out pretty soft, too soft to really cut, and more something you'd eat by the spoonful. Eating by the spoonful wasn't a problem for me. It still tasted really good.
Towards the end of my visit, when the previous fudge was gone, my Sister-in-Law and I decided to try again. Once again, we read the directions, got out stuff, and started following the directions. This time we even found a candy thermometer. We were doing fine, and then my sibling decided that no, we weren't actually doing fine, and that we should do something different, so he took over.
It's clear that one of us bred true, isn't it.
That time, the fudge came out like a rock. We had to break it with the edge of a heavy pan and stuff rather than trying to cut it with a knife. The good thing about fudge, though, is that even if it's totally hard, it's very water-soluble, so quite easy to clean up. And even rock hard, it dissolves in your mouth and still tastes pretty darned good.
And then I left and came home.
So, that first week home, I bought a quart of milk and decided to try making fudge myself, all by myself, so that if it didn't turn out well, I wouldn't have to hear about it. It was even softer than the first fudge over break, so soft that it didn't even hold its shape when you spooned some out. It still tasted good.
So, tonight I tried again. I thought I had it, but it's still too soft.
(But it tastes very good!)