Friday, 19 February 2010

Bride to Beasty

Because I live in Malaysia and my family lives in the US, I miss a lot. Birthdays…anniversaries…weddings. My sister is getting married in September and I’m going to be the (gasp) Matron of Honor. There must be a better title for this. Mistress of Honor, perhaps?

I was thrilled that I would be home to help her choose her wedding gown. Selecting the perfect dress is such a special event, highlighted by memories, tears, maybe champagne.

My sister is beautiful. We said she would look good in a paper sack.

We were wrong.

We spent a day at David’s Bridal and learned not all dress buying experiences were created equally. David's is sort of a one-stop-shop wedding factory. It wasn't the personalized experience we were after.

Our "helper" kept disappearing. I'm pretty sure she went out for a ciggy and a chat with her parole officer. I think she even managed to get her nose pierced while we waited for her to bring us (any) dress.

She turned up once every fifteen minutes with the wrong dress, in the wrong size.

My mother and I dabbed tears from our eyes, but it was from laughing at how silly my sister looked rather than how beautiful.

I’m sure David’s has some nice dresses, but none crossed our path this fateful day.

Later we did find the perfect dress, in the perfect shop…but you’ll have to wait until September to see that one!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Happy New Year 2010

This New Year's we packed up the car...
...and headed to Pine Grove Furnace State Park near Mt. Holly, PA for some rest and relaxation at Tex's family's cabin.
The drive was long and traffic ridden. We were in a sketchy part of the state, I mean, who among us has ever heard of a meat raffle? We had to be careful.
Luckily, we had Mr. Happy keeping an eye out for us. Believe it or not, he was not the most oddly dressed person at this gas station.
He has become very attached to his cowboy hat.
Tex's family thought we were crazy for visiting the cabin in the middle of winter.

I soon discovered why. It was FREEZING. I mean really, really cold. It was around 20F and I thought we should think about getting back in the car and going home.
It was warmer ouside.
I spent the first five hours of the trip sitting IN the fireplace.
We kept our mind off the cold by holding a beer tasting using my Christmas gift of beers from around the world.
The winner? Kingfisher from India!
We awoke on New Year's Eve day to a fresh blanket of snow.
I took a walk through the woods with the love birds.
And Mr. Happy...who looked like he lost his horse. And his posse.
We threw snowballs one.
We seemed to be about the only people at the park. I guess most of the cabins don't have indoor bathrooms. That would keep me away.
Believe it or not, we saw a couple swimming in the frozen lake! I guess they can't read. Or fully grasp the concept of seasons.
On New Year's Eve, Mr. Happy was introduced to an American tradition - s'mores! I couldn't believe he'd never had one.
For those of you who don't know (and I guess there are some of you out there) a s'more consists of a toasted marshmallow stuck between two graham grackers and a piece of Hershey bar. The melted chocolatey goodness is so delicious you're gonna want s'more!
The verdict.
He liked it! Of course...
After a few rounds of Apples to Apples we looked at our watch and it was midnight!
We toasted our New Year's snowfriend. But it was cold so we ran back inside awfully quick.
Bring it on 2010!


Once again, I've fallen terribly behind in my postings. I'm going to supply an abbreviated account of the rest of my holiday so I can start to share the newer events that have been happening.

Christmas was grand. There were waaaay too many presents.

Interestingly, the most popular gift in my family this season?


I received two.

The next most popular?

Netti pots. A pot used to clean out the snout.

LoppyLou received two. Bizarre.

Best present?

A cowboy hat for my Indian!

After exchanging consumer goods, we drove up to the Poconos for Christmas dinner with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.

We all made Merry indeed.

Then it was time for a two plus hour drive back home through a wintery mix.

Another highlight of my Christmas ’09 was getting to catch up with some of my highschool BFFs.

We also took a stroll around the world famous Longwood Gardens and took in the Christmas spectacular.

We gazed at the decorations both inside and out.

And joined in some holiday carols.

Then we hustled back to the car because it was COLD.

Why does Christmas end so quickly?

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Christmas Fudge

When I was growing up, along with a tree, a Christmas staple was my grandmother’s chocolate fudge. It was the perfect drop fudge. It had a slightly hard outer layer, but as soon as you bit down it melted in your mouth rich and creamy.

Back in the 60s she sold her fudge at Callies Candy Kitchen in Bangor, Pennsylvania. A pound sold for one dollar and she took home 80 cents. Slowly, she saved up enough money to reach her goal – a family portrait of her five children.

When she sold her house on the Bunny Trail and moved into a retirement community, she also retired from making her fudge. This Christmas I decided it was time to re-new the tradition. I asked her to help me make a batch. First she laughed and told me I’d be wasting my time. She didn’t think I had fudge makin’ in me. Then she laughed again and agreed to help, but still insisted we’d be wasting our time. It’s an easy recipe but the execution is difficult. Many have tried and failed to copy this confection.

The following morning I went to the store in search of Baker’s Chocolate and wax paper. I found them and our experiment began.

1.5 C sugar
1.5 squares Baker’s Chocolate
½ C water
½ tsp vanilla
1 pat of butter
One heavy saucepan
This will make about a one pound batch

The saucepan is key. You want to make sure it has a thick bottom, otherwise the fudge will die.

Put the sugar and water in the pan. You can combine them gently, but don’t stir or it will cause the fudge to become too sugary. Put in the chocolate and turn on the burner. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Turn it down to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, we simmered for more like 20-25 minutes.

Make sure during simmering that you DO NOT STIR. If it seems the sugar needs to be incorporated more, gently drag a fork through the mixture. But never, ever, stir.

Now it is time for the “soft ball” test. (At this point my mother chimed in that she had learned all about soft balls in, what? She was a home ec major.) Take a cup of cold water and place a small amount of the chocolate in the cup. If the chocolate forms into a “soft ball” when it hits the water, you’ve reached the correct consistency.

Take the fudge off the stove. Add the vanilla along with a pat of butter. Let it cool a bit. Now start STIRING. You may have to stir for about 10 minutes. You want a slightly thick, creamy consistency.

Now it’s time to drop the fudge on to the wax paper. Take a spoon and simply push off a piece about the size of a silver dollar. If the fudge gets too thick during this, add a bit of warm water and stir some more.

Once you’ve covered the wax paper in fudge, place it outside to cool. I used the garage. We left it outside for about 20-30 minute then flipped the fudge over and left it outside for another 20 minutes.

Now you’re fudge should be ready to serve!

We ate ours with Christmas Eve dinner. To our surprise, it tasted just like the fudge from years past. Now my grandmother isn’t laughing anymore. Instead, she’s reminding me that if I go on to open a fudge shop it is called “Nana’s Fudge.”