Fudge for the Generations

Food, family, fellowship….awe the Holiday Traditions tend to center around food.  I won’t share my age, but by first Christmas away from home was at the ripe old age of 18.  That year my mom sent me a prized Christmas gift that I still cherish and use today.  It was a photo album full of pictures of me from birth to 18 and hand written recipes that were my favorites that mom made.  On that first Christmas away from home, my cooking skills included popcorn, homemade fudge, cornflake candy and hamburger helper.  I needed this book!

cookbook intro

Memories and traditions are held inside these pages.  The old school magnetic album started to loose its hold on the pictures.  So, I found a scrapbook to keep the memories alive.  Mom also used some old drawings of mine and the Christmas card sent to my parents from the doctor that delivered me.  This cookbook is out and on my kitchen counter for daily reference.

One of the first things I learned to make was fudge; not the marshmallow or easy fudge, but the old-fashioned kind like my grandmother made.  The smell alone takes me back to childhood and the memories of being with my grandma McCain.  In my teen years, I asked Granny to teach me how to make fudge.  She was ill and couldn’t be in the kitchen with me.  From the living room, she told me to get out the “big stir” (pronounced steer).  For those of you not from the south, that means big pot.  Her measurements are where I got lost.  She told me to scoop out 3 handfuls of sugar and add enough cocoa to turn the sugar to a pretty brown color.  Blah!  Ok, so this turned into a pan of goo, but not fudge.  So, I turned to my mom.  She measured it all out for me and that is the recipe that we will work from today.  Before I start cooking at Christmas, I need a few things:  Christmas decor, Christmas music, my hair up and out-of-the-way and a cute apron.

beth apron

Ok.  I am ready.  Are you?  Grab your tunes, apron and these items…

fudge ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of cocoa
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of whole milk (I mix evaporated milk and water)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 tsp of vanilla

In your pot, combine the sugar and cocoa with a whisk to get the lumps out of the cocoa.  Then, add the milk and whisk.

fudge 1

Turn on the heat to high until the mixture comes to a full rolling boil.

fudge boil

Reduce the heat to a very small simmer.  Depending on your stove, this may cook for quite some time 30-45 minutes.  But, we don’t measure fudge in time.  This type of fudge is done when you can form a soft ball in water.  The consistency will change as it cooks.  It will have a glossy look as it gets close to being done.

To test it, put cold water in a small cup.  Pour a spoonful of the mixture into the water.  If it just spatters around the bottom of the cup and you can not move it together into a ball, it’s not quite ready.

So, wait a few minutes and repeat that step.  It’s ready when you can move the chocolate around in the water and form a soft ball.  When you can form the ball, remove the pan from the heat.  Add the butter and the vanilla flavoring and let it sit while it cools.  Give it a few minutes to cool before stirring.  Stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and flavoring are well blended.  Pour into a greased 8×8 pan.  DO NOT REFRIGERATE!!  Let it cool at room temperature.  Can you smell it?  Now, the best part is scraping the fudge off the sides of the pan and having a taste.  Yum!  I hope this one brings you and your family the joy that it brings our family.  It wouldn’t be Christmas at our house without a few batches of this being made from Thanksgiving until Christmas.  Family traditions are so important in this fast paced world.  Being in the kitchen with your family, the smells of chocolate simmering, licking the spoon…these are the memories that are handed down through the generations.



Not this year, Satan

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was not my family’s best holiday. The week was usually pretty stressful, and the enemy sure knew how to use that to his advantage. (In case you didn’t know, the enemy hates families. Especially families who love and serve the Lord.)

In time, I think my parents learned that one of the best ways for our family to manage the stress of that week was to get out of town. So, we started traveling for many of our Thanksgivings when I was in my early teens. Something about not being in our house diffused some of the stress. When I got to “working age,” I volunteered to work on Thanksgiving if it was a year when we weren’t traveling. (I worked at a gym, and they’d open for a couple hours in the morning.) I guess I’d caught onto the “get out of the house” strategy.

When I got married I carried some of that dread surrounding Thanksgiving with me, even though my first several Thanksgivings were spent with my in-laws and some of my anxiety surrounding the day manifested itself in ways I’ve wished it hadn’t.

So, a year or so ago, I finally got the bright idea to start praying as soon as November started… Pray over Thanksgiving, pray over my spirit, pray over my attitude, pray over my mouth, pray over my husband, pray over my family, etc.

By this time I’d shared a little bit with close friends about how much I used to really dislike Thanksgiving, and to my surprise, it was not an isolated-to-Lindsay feeling. Lots of  my friends (who are like-minded in many ways) also dread the day.

I started asking the question, “Why?” I listened to their answers, blogged about it, and hurt a lot of people’s feelings in the process.

I missed the mark.

I hit the target but not dead-center; I was way on the outer most circle.

The truth is Thanksgiving is complicated- I think I could write a blog series on everything I’ve learned about why this is such a hard week for people.

Fast forward to present day. This morning I realized I was irritable for no reason. “Why?” Why did I feel this way? I had no reason to be stressed or irritated. Then it donned on me… Thanksgiving is coming.

For me Thanksgiving symbolizes a humongous cacophony of feelings- complicated feelings and hopes and desires all mixed in with the reality of somehow needing to simultaneously survive AND enjoy the season WHILE maintaining the every day requirements of my life (wife, work from home mom of 2 kids, Bible study, etc).

I desperately did not want to fall into the old pattern of my stress manifesting itself in ways I would either regret or that would simply ruin the holiday for others around me.

So I prayed.

There are a lot of practical strategies for getting through the holidays successfully, whether it be financial strategies (stay within budget, don’t go into debt), emotional strategies (like my family opting to get out of town most Thanksgivings), or logistical strategies (getting all the presents purchased, parties attended to, and turkeys roasted). But, I’m finally realizing that my only hope this season that covers every single facet of it is fully and wholly in Jesus.

The older you get, the faster these holidays just blow right by us. I want every opportunity to enjoy these special times of year (which is my primary argument for decorating and listening to Christmas music as early as I do). But, I just can’t do it on my own. Because when I rely on my own strategies, they won’t overcome all the complications this time of year brings. However, when I ask Jesus to get involved, when I opt to do things His way instead of simply relying on my own good-sense, I have a much better chance at not giving the enemy a foot-hold.

He hates families. He hates gratitude. He hates giving. He hates people gathering around the table and giving thanks to God before they break bread. No duh, he hates Christmas. But, I think he hates Thanksgiving too. So, he uses everything he can to wreak havoc on the day, so he can wreak havoc on families.

Will you join me this year in telling him, “Not this year, Satan”? Because Thanksgiving may not be about Jesus, but we’re going to prepare like it does. We’re going to pray, and we’re going to keep our eyes and hearts fixed on the One for whom we are most thankful, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay