Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Holiday Foods

Our table...it always seemed like there was more on there as a kid! :)

Mmmmmm...what a wonderful time of the year!

Cookies galore!  Our dining room table was always decked in a tartan tablecloth.  On top were various containers and tins containing fudge, candies, various cookies, nuts, and Christmas hard candy!

Now what I have to say about the nuts is...I NEVER ATE NUTS.  Plus they were in shells and I had no idea what was what.  About the only thing I DID want to do was to shell the nut...and not eat it.  I have learned to love nuts since my childhood, but a nut was not passing my lips even if it was Christmas!  Well there was one cookie exception, but that was cookies, so it's different!

The Christmas candy...you know the kind.  The hard candy ribbons, the peanut filled nuggets, etc.  Yeah...I never touched that either. But it was there every year.  It was really more of a decoration in our house than food.  Something I need to ask about.  Perhaps it being there was a tradition.  Not one I continue however!

My sister and I on Hazel Blum's lap.  I'm only about 2 or 3 so must be 1974-ish.
So, on to a recipe.  The fudge that would be found in one of the various tins on the dining room table!  We call it "Aunt Hazel's Peanut Butter Fudge".  Who is Aunt Hazel?  Well, she's not an aunt or a relation.  We had a wonderful woman that lived next door to us on Diamond Avenue in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.  She married late and never had kids of her own.  She loved us kids.  We called her Nana (both of my grandmas having passed away years before I was born).  She was the only grandmother figure I ever knew.  She taught me to knit and crochet, so I dedicate this post and it's recipe to Hazel Blum.

Aunt Hazel's Peanut Butter Fudge


3 c. sugar
1 c. milk
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1 pint (abt 2 c.) peanut butter
1 pint (abt 2 c.) marshmallow fluff
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla


Combine sugar, corn syrup and milk in a large pot over low tp medium-low heat and stir constantly until not gritty (this will take a few minutes as the mixture begins to heat up).  Let cook until soft ball stage is reached (234-240 degrees F); stirring occassionally.

Remove from heat.  Immediately add peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, butter and vanilla extract.  Let sit for a couple minutes to allow marshmallow and peanut butter to soften slightly.  While fudge is sitting, line a 9x11-inch pan with aluminum foil.  Butter aluminum foil.

Stir fudge until well combined.  Make sure you are using a strong spoon (depending on atmospheric conditions, i.e. – humidity, etc, your fudge may harden quickly).  Once fudge is mixed thoroughly, pour into lined and greased pan.  You may need to use your hands to press down if fudge has become too thick to pour.  Be careful as it will be hot and you will need to cool your hands intermittently with water to prevent burns.  Let cool until firm.  Cut into squares.

NOTE:  If fudge becomes too hard when stirring (breaking is occuring)  then add a little bit of milk and continue stirring.  Add more as needed, but adding too much at once will ruin fudge so be cautious.

NOTE:  I use “Reduced Fat JIF” for the peanut butter.  It’s not the tastiest peanut butter, but it gives the fudge the taste like Nana’s.  I’ve tried peanut butter that I like on sandwiches and it just doesn’t taste right in the fudge.  Use which you prefer, but if you want the right taste for Nana’s fudge use JIF.