JEFF TIEDEMAN: Kid favesPeanut butter fudge, cream puffs stand the test of time.
If your childhood food experiences are anything like mine, they probably evoke some pretty vivid memories.
I’ll always remember Mom pulling homemade buns out of the oven and me eating a couple of them — while still piping hot — without anything else except a generous pat of butter. The same thing goes for her chocolate chip cookies. They were great when warm — soft and still-gooey chocolate — with a glass of milk. Ditto the dressing she used to make whenever we would have a turkey, chicken or a roast — even the version with just bread and no pork sausage.
One thing I’d like to forget is how Mom used to scold me for picking at the dressing’s crust before mealtime. Heck, I thought it was OK to do so, since both of my Aunt Harriets (Brown and Hendrickson) liked to do the same.
Mom still makes the buns, cookies and dressing, but it is two other foods that came to mind recently when I started reminiscing about some of my favorite kid food.
I hadn’t thought about Mom’s peanut butter fudge for years but was reminded of it after choosing a different recipe for the tasty snack in the Chef Jeff “One Byte at a Time” feature that appears daily on Page A3 of the Herald. Most recently, Mom has been making just regular chocolate fudge, which makes a great gift, usually right before the Christmas season holidays. (Fudge’s relatively long shelf life makes it an excellent food item for shipping, which my brothers appreciate.)
Shortly after the peanut butter fudge recipe appeared in the newspaper, an 84-year-old reader from McVille, N.D., called and asked me about its ingredients. Specifically, if the amount of peanut butter, 1¼ pounds (3 cups), was correct. She and a couple of her friends had their doubts.
I assured her the amount was correct, after checking the original recipe, although it’s a lot more peanut butter than is in my mom’s recipe. (Both peanut butter fudge recipes can be found at www.grandforksherald.com/event/ tag/group/Features/tag/food/.) Another difference was that my mom’s recipe contained only confectioners’ and no brown sugar.
The second childhood favorite that I recalled was cream puffs, a small round pastry that is served cold and filled with a sweet filling and sometimes a topping. Mom only made cream puffs a couple of times (she thinks the recipe came from her old Better Homes and Garden cookbook), but they left a lasting impression on me.
One thing I realized after talking to my mom about those two treats is that fudge, more so than most other candies, requires precision in temperature when it is made. So, a candy thermometer is a must, since you must stop cooking the fudge mixture when it reaches the soft-ball stage, 236 degrees. This is so you get tiny sugar crystals when the fudge sets, making it creamy and firm rather than grainy or soft. And no, you can’t use the meat thermometer you already have in your kitchen.
A former co-worker of mine confessed to me shortly before she took a job elsewhere that her attempt at making fudge was a disaster because she didn’t have a thermometer.
Luckily, I didn’t have to go out and buy a candy thermometer to get my peanut butter fudge fix. Mom made a batch of it and gave it to me for my birthday, which was this past Friday.
It sure made turning 59 a lot sweeter.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.