Monday, December 11, 2017


Today’s Fudge-Making Day, so it can cool and be cut for delivering around town to clients, so I’m “fudging” with the posts and using  this one from Christmas, eight years ago.  Wish I still had as much time and energy as I did then, when I was looking after a two-year-old three days a week.  She’s quite adept in the kitchen now, herself, and I’m sure she could show me a thing or two.


This time of year, I wonder if the Revenooers might think we've got a still in the basement, turning out 'Shine. That's the way they used to catch a lot of bootleggers in the South, by the amount of sugar they were buying, going from store to store for a hundred pounds here, and fifty there. And we haul it home with the wagon draggin'---like we're driving Thunder Road.

Just plain Fudge, creamy and chocolatey---I love its colour and shine:

I'm the candy-making Elf---Kahlua Fudge, with a couple of shots of Espresso Syrup and Kahlua. Chocolate coffee beans atop.

Cappuccino Fudge, with a shot of Espresso syrup in the recipe:

Reese's Loaves---the bottom is the old-fashioned recipe for Peanut Butter Fudge, with extra-crunchy, left to sit in the pans til cool and firm, then a small pour of plain fudge on top.

The platter has to be empty by Christmas Morning---that's where the Banana Bread by my Mother's recipe goes, with a little dish of soft cream cheese alongside.

The loaves cut into giving-size portions---you can see they're in thirds, with little rounded corners on some---this is a VERY rich candy. I advise cutting it in little short-ways slices, rather than the big ones on the platter above.

Caro made Miss Laura Bush's Cowboy Cookies, with oatmeal, chocolate chips, coconut and pecans:

Some crisp, salty snacks to counteract all that sugar---Caro's Chex Mix:

Rocky Road, with roasted peanuts and tiny marshmallows tossed with melted Ghirardelli:

Here's the tableful of goodies for clients and friends---not nearly all of what we made, but it looks pretty, all arrayed like that. We swap the pretty cloths for an old red vinyl picnic sheet, and use a lot of Windex on the two glass tables, for candy-making is messy work.

And one more look at the shining, lovely original, from which all the recipes spring:

Wishing y’all ALL the SWEETNESS of this Blessed Season!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Linking with Beverly's PINK SATURDAY.  

From LAWN TEA BLOG,  December, 2008

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Today’s the day---the First Sunday In December---forever to be known in our family as Cookie House Day. Not Gingerbread Houses---no baking involved, and the scope and variety of cookies and decorations knew only the bounds of the local Sunflower, Kroger, and Fred’s Dollar Store. We bought whatever took our fancy---salty or sweet, just so the shapes were interesting, or they LOOKED like part of a Witch’s Architecture. Or a Fairy's, perhaps even a Gnome's. We used candy corn for window-trim and pretzels for fences or tiny sugar-dusted shredded wheat pillows for thatching---anything goes in a child’s eyes, especially one armed with a big cup of sugar frosting. Imagination is ALL.

We'll have a very small version this year, at our breakfast table, with only one little girl and a pair of one-year-olds to participate. So we'll have safe candies and their kinds of cookies and a lot of help from Moms and Dads and us Grandparents. And probably baths in the pink TeleTubs for the two small ones.

The first year---the late Seventies, I think, we started out with about five little ones from our tiny church, who came over after Sunday Dinner, and we made up the rules as we went along. Pretty much, the rules were: You had to be three, or no older than twelve. Past participants were welcome to come and assist the little ones in their own creations.

I had cut little cardboard patterns, maybe 9x9x7 boxy shapes with two triangular peaks, duct-taped the forms together from the inside, then taped those to thick cardboard squares, a couple of inches bigger all around to make room for a little lawn or woodpile or some Christmas trees (or a moat---that's what I'd opt for). 

Sorry---that outburst was surely caused by endless afternoons in close proximity to twenty or so three-to-six-year-olds with unlimited access to sugar.

On the long bar, paper plates of all kinds of "bought" cookies and candies and pretzels, gumdrops and canes and crackers stood ready. I usually made a gallon of the butter/powdered sugar/flavoring frosting we used for birthday cakes, but for this one, I always used a drop or two of orange extract and a tiny sprinkle of salt, so all that finger-licking wouldn't be so overpoweringly sweet.

Each child got a paper plate or platter, to choose all the building materials and attach them to the roof first---it was a rectangle a bit wider and longer than the housetop; the hangover made neat eaves for applying icicles. A gentle score down the center, and the flat board bent in the middle to set neatly onto the house. The finished roof dried while the house was decorated.

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Everyone also got a plastic punch cup filled with icing, and a small plastic spatula for spreading. You could smear it on the cardboard and attach stuff, or smear the backs of the cookies to attach, or however you could fulfil your dreamhouse. And when, at time for icicles and other decor, we handed each a filled decorating cone, eyes widened and faces lit up even brighter. Children just LOVE being trusted with pleasant grownup tasks, and this was not the TIME for "no, you can't do this; it's too messy." They strewed icing with merry abandon. Licking fingers and arms for stray icing, even an experimental squeeze into an open mouth---that's what the BIG bowl of homemade dill pickles and the bowls of salty pretzels and all those pitchers of ice water were for.

When all was finished, handfuls of the leftovers, the broken cookies, the unused candy, pretzels and other edibles, all were distributed inside the houses, and the roofs were set on, the weight of icing and cookie-shingles keeping them in place. We made pictures, Mamas returned to carry the sticky carpenters home, and we cleaned the kitchen. And I never waxed my floors for the holidays until after the party.

After about the third time, several adults requested to come make a house for their dining tables or for an upcoming party in their home, or to relive or just LIVE some childhood moments once again. So several years, we had a wine-and-cheese party on Saturday night; everybody brought bags of goodies to decorate with, I made the icing and cardboard forms, and when it was over, they all helped clean up and set out the decorations for the children the next day.

This got to be so popular over the years, we had people calling in October to reserve a place, and we finally had to move it to the Fellowship Hall of the Church. Several Moms in other churches around the county called for instructions; I gave out the icing recipe, drew them the pattern, and they started having parties of their own.

I haven’t been there for Christmas in years---I wonder if they still do. And I really hope some of the children remember.

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Friday, December 1, 2017


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R.I.P. Jim Nabors.

Sweet spirit, simple soul, incredible talent.  

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Can you imagine that trio in Heaven right now?

Monday, November 27, 2017


Neighbors,  Part II. THE GLASSES

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According to Miss Bobbie, one of the two little boys next door had been born “afflicted,”  Southern then-vernacular for any problem acquired or developed surrounding a child’s birth, and it could also apply to having any lasting condition resulting from any of the usual childhood diseases.   Little Bobby was just “a bit slow in his ways,” as she told his story, and had very poor eyesight, requiring stronger and stronger glasses as he grew older.   He didn’t do well in his first couple of years of school, but did learn to read just enough to get by. He didn’t attend much past third grade, when his grasp of arithmetic and geography had been the cause of “failing him” twice, so that he was head-taller than his classmates.  And so he stayed at home. 

  In Miss Bobbie’s  words, “He made a BIG man.”  On up into his thirties, he’d walk all over town with his Mama while she sold her Avon, and he’d sit on your steps or in your porch swing if you didn’t have screen.   You could track what time Miss Emma would be at your house by looking across and seeing what house where Bobby was sitting, looking at the birds.

He’d sit in the sun or shade of the porch, slowly moving the glider with gentle movements, and holding her furled “parasol,” which was a big black umbrella that she took from his hand and snapped open each time she came out the customer’s door, bearing it aloft to ward off the sun until she reached the next stop---a geometric little sidewalk journey like stitching one of those squared-off Greek-key patterns onto a dresser scarf---to the next house, just forty steps away.

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He, in exchange for the parasol, would accept her little Avon suitcase of wares, dwarfed to child size by his enormous soft hands, and he’d carry it meekly down sidewalk after sidewalk, handing it back in the wordless parasol-snap moment of exchange at the steps.  When School was “out,” or in the later afternoons, he usually had an entourage of two or three of the little neighbor kids.

 Children loved him, that simple shining soul, so soft spoken and shy.  They’d show him things, things from their grimy pockets, or bird nests or a mended pocket-knife, and he’d give them solemn consideration through the ever-thickening lenses, murmuring little comments and answers in that eternal language of small boys and their treasures. 

I can still hear Miss Bobbie’s Alabama voice right now, “ . . .and they’d show him therr pocket-bobs, and he’d look ‘em over. . .”     The kids eagerly followed him from front porch to side-steps to an old glider with an awning, as his Mama made her way around the block with him moving gently in her wake.  Bobby was always given first choice of seating wherever they alit, easing his way onto the steps or into the swing with a soft sigh as he sat, and they all jostled a bit to capture the best spot for his attention.  And no matter whose porch or yard they were all occupying, they were as accepted as the breeze, because Bobby was there, and nobody ever acted up when he was so unheedingly in charge.

And so I’ve had this small pair of oh-so-thick glasses for almost thirty years, laid onto the top shelf with all the old cameras and spy-glasses and belt buckles and old black-and-white family pictures with names on the back lest we forget.   The case is unconscionably dusty, as is everything on that last-to-be tended shelf, with the passing seasons of months and years.   They lie in that napped blue velvet, just as his little-boy hands snapped shut the small hard clamshell for that last time when the next, stronger pair was required. 

These are a lasting treasure to me, as would be a Grandfather’s watch or a Great Aunt’s lavalier, though I never knew the owner save through the stories and the forever place that sweet, never-met young man occupies in my heart. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017


So many Blessings, so much Gratitude.   Thank you all.