Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ho, ho... oh, crap.

So many good intentions go awry under the pressure of the holidays. Even the most hearty of souls can be made prickly from yuletide indigestion and the ghosts of family arguments past looming in the air - but this year, I think I've been cursed with an exceptional group of holiday gremlins ... and I spoke way too soon regarding the fudge! Just to recap for those of you who I haven't seen since the last post, the holiday preparations at the pantry began smoothly and the first batches of fudge were soft, supple and tasty (see the previous post)... but then the gremlins got in the mix. Water seeped into the dial of my thermometer and made a huge mess of things. Now if you've made candy before, you'll know that there's only a small window of opportunity when your sugar goes from golden honey to rock hard AND if your needle hasn't moved at all in the course of three minutes, or it tries to tell you that your science teacher was wrong and water boils at 80 degrees Celsius or if it's so damn cloudy you can't see what the temperature is, it can make the whole operation a little difficult. After two giant tooth crushing sugar cubes and one huge glob of rocky road goo that Mr. Hanky would be proud of, I threw out the whole ordeal and made cookies instead.

But then came the REAL endurance test. A four day trip to see family and friends turned into a series of warm fuzzy highs and frigidly icy lows. Our trip began with a gorgeous rental car that we realized after our departure, reeked of bladder incontinence. After much fuss and delay, the car was returned to the agency for a cleaner, much fancier version and we began our fateful trip. After a 5 hour drive we arrived at our hotel room for a good night's rest and discovered at the crack of dawn, that we were right below a sledge-hammer-and-crow-bar-happy renovation crew. This discovery resulted in yet another upgrade to a fancier room with a gorgeous flat screen TV. How lovely. After much grumping and a few hours more of sleep, we thought our troubles were over and continued our road trip to a friend's house nearby where we were greeted by a freak flash ice storm and crashed our fancy fresh smelling car into the curb a mere 10 feet from the front door. The newer, now broken, car was subsequently upgraded the next day by the rental company for another even fancier car which we used to continue our road trip. Fun, right? But wait, there's more. Due to the shell shock of the first three days of the trip and a whole lot of bickering, we fatefully missed the turn off on the highway going south and traveled west for a two hour detour driving behind someone's grandpa in a pick-up truck and arrived at our destination (and restaurant reservation) over an hour late. At the end of it all, the salve for my wounds was a dish of mashed potatoes and parsnips topped with crispy muscovy duck confit, buttery rapini, sweet red cabbage and the open arms of my family - who thought the whole thing was bloody HILARIOUS.

Santa and karma did make it up to me and brought to the pantry a bounty of excellent kitchen equipment! Among the many great tools I received was ironically, a new thermometer (old school with no needles), a new wooden paddle for mixing, heavy duty silicone spatulas, a fancy measuring cup for thick goopy ingredients - and lots of requests for next year's treats. We'll see if I'm brave enough to tackle fudge again.

Here's to another year of fun, frolic and inevitable hilarity!

Now, I'm off to have some of whatever it is Santa's having.


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