Veeder: How not to make my mother's mouthwatering holiday fudge
Brought to you by Carnation evaporated milk, which is NOT Carnation sweetened condensed milk, even though they basically come in the exact same packaging.
First, go to Las Vegas for three or four days in the middle of December, just long enough to get good and sleep-deprived so that when you return home you are utterly exhausted and unprepared for Christmas, which you realize is in, like, 24 hours.
Then, after falling asleep putting the kids to bed at 7 p.m., wake up the next morning determined to give everyone you’ve ever encountered in your life a container of homemade fudge, because that’s what your mom would do.
Now make a list:
- 8 bags of chocolate chips
- 1 (or probably 2) giant bags of sugar
- 4 pounds of butter (you heard me)
- 4 cans of evaporated milk
After waking up at 5:30 a.m. to get you and the kids out the door for the day, make sure you use your allotted lunch time to take your baby to a doctor’s appointment that lasts a good two hours and ends with a screaming child. Only then will you be in desperate need of a potty break and the perfect amount of discombobulated and starving to really tackle the grocery store and that list that didn’t include a giant Red Bull, a bag of M&M's and Cool Ranch Doritos, but dang it, you have baking to do.
And bake you shall, but don’t start until around 9:30 p.m. when the baby is sleeping and the toddler will likely only emerge from her room three or four more times, the last just in time to witness you dumping an entire can of rotten evaporated milk across the kitchen and onto your Crocs as you attempt to check the expiration date. (And yes, wear Crocs because it’s what chefs wear and now you know why.)
Because, to do this right, you should buy sweetened condensed milk and pour it in the bowl with four and a half cups of sugar before realizing that you bought four cans of the wrong kind of milk.
Then, you should try to use it anyway and burn the sugar to the bottom of the pan before abandoning that idea and digging through your kitchen cabinets for a can of the right kind of milk, which you will find and wonder about when it pours out in chunks into another four and a half cups of sugar.
Then, and only then, should you call your mother, who will have three extra cans. Send your husband over there. While he’s gone, break into the emergency basement wine and the bag of Doritos and call your sister.
And when your husband returns, he should return with the milk, two new Christmas outfits for the grandkids, leftovers and a partridge in a pear tree. Kiss him and tell him he’s the best husband in the world, and then get into the longest story in the world while you gather your ingredients, measure, mix and pour, so that by 11 p.m. your fudge pans are cooling and he’s elbow-deep in a sink full of dishes and he doesn’t even know what hit him.
Make sure to save him a piece or two before delivering the fudge to co-workers, daycare providers and that lady who once told you about the toilet paper sticking out the back of your skirt.
And when they say, “You shouldn’t have,” make sure to reply, “Oh, it was nothing! Such a simple recipe.”
Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughters on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. She blogs at https://veederranch.com. Readers can reach her at email@example.com.