Food has been a big discussion on my homeschool message board I read. Lots of questions about what people are serving for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day along with recipes for cookies, rolls, etc. Lots and lots of talk about food. I think most of us have traditions that we stick to for one reason or another. We make peanut butter blossom cookies. Sometimes I make them other times, but always at Christmas. I also make my mom's fudge (which is actually just the recipe on the marshmallow cream jar - recipe below). This will be my first year making a ham for Christmas Day. I don't love ham, so I just never found myself making one. I don't hate it either, I just prefer turkey over ham. My family happens to all love ham, so I am giving them a ham dinner this year. I had to go buy it today. I have never bought a ham before seeing as how I had never made one before. It was actually quite simple once I looked at the Honey Baked Ham site and saw how many pounds of ham feeds how many people. I opted to not spend $50 on a Honey Baked Ham when I could buy one from the store for about $15. I may end up regretting that decision, but I hope not. I have had the Honey Baked before. It was good, but not that good. Anyway, for Christmas Eve we started having Chinese several years ago. We all go to church and then go back to my mom's for Chinese. Actually, when we first started this we didn't just get Chinese. We got some biscuits and shrimp from Red Lobster and Italian Beef from a local deli. The idea was to have lots of the foods we loved without the work. Now that we don't have as many people, we just stick with the Chinese food. I love it and so does the rest of the family. All this thinking about food got me thinking back to when I was a kid. My mom always cooked dinner on Christmas Eve. It was just our immediate family and possibly my grandma. I can't remember a thing she cooked, but I know she cooked. On Christmas Day we had a brunch with the rest of the family. Egg quiche that I hated (still do). So, this one Christmas Eve was different. My mom always worked the Christmas Eve night shift in the ER. We would have dinner and then my dad would take us out for a drive, so Santa could come. Then we would open gifts. Now that I am a mom, I can see how overwhelming it must have been for my mom. She had 4 kids, dinner, presents, all the hoopla and then work all night. This one Christmas Eve, she broke down and ordered Pizza Hut. I was probably 8 or 9 at the time. I was SO EXCITED! Okay, we didn't get fast food or pizza like my kids do today. It was a treat! A huge treat! I remember dancing around the living room waiting for the pizza guy to come. I can still remember the smell of the pizza and sitting around the table with my family. Ahhhh... it was the best! Here is the funny thing... I talked to my mom about this once. I told her how much I loved it. She went on to tell me that she felt so incredibly bad that she was just too tired to cook a big dinner. She felt like she was FAILING her children by not doing the traditional thing. Here she had no idea that I couldn't remember a single other dinner, but that one... that one pizza dinner had stuck in my mind all these years. Sometimes we think we need to plan the best meal and decorate the best cookies. Sometimes we want all the decorations in just the right place. Sometimes we get all wrapped up in all that is going on. Then there are those little things like an unexpected pizza that make it feel like Christmas! I am so glad that I thought about this today. I hope my kids can grab hold of a memory like that and remember it for years to come.
Fantasy Fudge Recipe
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1 small can (5 oz) evaporated milk (about 2/3 cup)
1 1/2pkg (12 squares Baker's Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate Chopped) OR 2 cups Semi-Sweet chips - I always use the chocolate chips.
1 jar (7 oz) Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme
1 tsp vanilla
Line 9 inch square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over the sides of the pan; set aside. (I have never done this step!) Place sugar, butter and evaporated milk in large heavy saucepan. Bring to full rolling boil on medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil 4 minutes or until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees, stirring constantly to prevent schorching. Remove from heat.
Add chocolate and marshmallow creme, stire until completely melted. Add vanilla and optional nuts; mix well.
Pour immediately into prepared pan; spread to form even layer in pan. Let stand at room temperature 4 hours or until completely cooled; cut into 1 inch squares. This recipe says to store at room temperature, but I alway keep it in the fridge. Otherwise it can get mushy. Enjoy!