We’re Gonna Let Love Rule…and Other News

 

Since I’m going to be blogging at least once a week, you’re going to learn random facts about me.   Here’s one now:  I’m a major Lenny Kravitz fan.  I fell hard for Lenny Kravitz’s music in 1999 not long after “Fly Away” came out.  At that time in my life my husband and I were figuring out how to make a major life change by leaving urban/suburban NJ to start a new life for ourselves and our four young sons in rural Maine.   “Fly Away” was on the radio all the time back then.  I’d hear it at home, at the gym, in the supermarket, and it kind of became my anthem for leaving a life that wasn’t right for me or for my young family.  It’s still near the top of my list of favorite songs in that genre.

After “Fly Away,” I think the song that comes back to me most from Kravitz’s catalog is “Let Love Rule.”  It seems particularly appropriate as we go in to the Valentine’s Day holiday in a few weeks to take apart that title:  “Let Love Rule.”  What does that mean?  Is that some kind of hippy dippy nonsense completely impossible in the modern world, and in a nation that’s more stressed than I ever recall in my lifetime?  (I’m 51, for the record.)

I’m not going to expound too much here.  Were this my personal blog, I might, but at the same time, I don’t think I need to.  I did write on this topic a little more extensively almost a year ago and you can read that here.  We all know what it means, though.  “Let Love Rule” means that every decision we make, every word we say, every action we take, every position we support, has to be run through that filter, that criteria.  Is what I’m about to decide, say, do, letting love rule?  Or is something else at work here?  I fail at this on a regular basis, but maybe just this month, as a celebration of Valentine’s Day, I’ll give it an especially conscious try.  That’s my intention for the month, anyway.  Feel free to share your thoughts on the subject in the comment thread.

All right.  On to the other news…

Have you hooked anything for Valentine’s Day?  It’s not too late, and our shop is filled with hearts of one kind of another.   Some are patterns, all can be kitted, some are pillows, some are sachets.  Some are even finished – no hooking necessary – just have me ship it to you in time for Valentine’s Day.   Take a peek at the shop, navigating using the section clicks on the left sidebar, HERE.

Not specifically related to Valentine’s Day, but new to the shop this past week is a new digital download section for patterns.  I’ve been asked to provide this for a long time and you can see the first seven of them HERE.  They are designed for you to download, print in sections, put together, and transfer on to your own foundation.  They come with a full instruction sheet on how to properly draw a pattern on the grain with helpful hints for making the process as easy as possible.  An example is below.  In this case, “Tesla’s First Snow” will download in four sheets so that the pattern is actual size upon assembly.

 

Finally, this week I’m going to be introducing all of the particulars and sign up instructions for our new pattern/kit subscription service.  Last year I did an online survey and those of you who responded told me that a quarterly service would most interest you, with a mix of genres (seasonal, primitive, contemporary, etc).  You were pretty evenly split on patterns vs. kits, so I’m going to offer an option for each.   These will ship in March, June, September, and December of this year.  We’ll evaluate the program at the end of the year for popularity, participation, and any tweaking it needs in response to your feedback.   Patterns available through the subscription service will *only* be available to subscribers – not to any other customers – in the year they are shipped.

For those of you who have read the blog all the way to this point, here’s a special coupon code good through Valentine’s Day in the Etsy shop:  LETLOVERULE2017.   Use this coupon code for 10% off on any purchase of $25 or more in the Etsy shop.  I’ve just noticed that I’ve listed my 200th item in the shop, so hopefully you’ll find something  just right for you.

Happy hooking and let love rule.

 

 

Marshmallow Fluff and Never Fail Fudge (Durkee-Mower Company) – A New England and Parris House Tradition

I’m pretty sure many of you will recognize this plastic tub, especially if you live in New England.

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Disclaimer here:  I realize that this is not a health food.  I’m one of those earthy crunchy organic gardening, home canning, whole foods, clean eating, hiker/runner types.  Even with THIS on the tub, I realize that this is not a health food:

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However…like Grandma’s Christmas cookies, birthday cake on birthdays, and my husband’s home made French vanilla ice cream, there is a time and a place for everything.  At the Parris House, there’s a time and a place for this classic New England recipe:

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At the Parris House, the times for this are Christmas and Valentine’s Day.  Now, I don’t make this recipe.  I do all the cutesy decorating, bake some kind of dessert, and buy conversation hearts and gifts.   This year dessert was cherry pie.  I got the idea for punching heart shaped holes in the crust from 1840 Farm, but, of course, my version looks more like a “nailed it” meme than a faithful replication of the beautiful job Jennifer Burcke did with her pie.

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No, it is my husband Bill who always makes the Never Fail Fudge.  And before we go any further, I’d like to say that the trademark Marshmallow Fluff and the recipe Never Fail Fudge are the intellectual property of the Durkee-Mower company in Lynn, Massachusetts.  I have full permission to blog this recipe.  Do you know why?  Because I actually spoke to the super nice owner of this company on the phone this morning, and had the privilege of thanking him personally for this confection, which, I might mention, while not a health food is also not chock full of bizarre chemicals that no earthly mortal can recognize.  The sole ingredients are corn syrup, sugar, dried egg white, and vanillin.  Period.  Straightforward and no nonsense, the New England way.  And while the Fluffernutter sandwich is not really for me, it too is something most kids in this part of the country have packed in their lunchboxes more than a few times, a simple straightforward treat that they could make themselves.

It turns out, actually, that this straightforward New England confection has been manufactured since 1920 and the company is still in the same family.  The history is actually very interesting and can be found here, on the company website.  You can also “like” Marshmallow Fluff on Facebook, which is kind of fun.  There are also many recipes on the website, so surf around.

Never Fail Fudge is a rich, deeply chocolate, soft fudge that is truly never fail.  We have not ever had a batch go wrong.  If you do have a batch go wrong, the company website has an FAQ for that, but really…just follow the directions on the bucket.  Here we go.

Bill super greases a 9×13 ceramic cake pan with lots of butter.  The directions on the tub suggest 2 – 9x9s, which would be fine also, of course.  He gets all his ingredients together prior to starting the recipe so that he is free to stir the fudge and pay attention to the temperature of the mixture.

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The ingredients are:  5 cups sugar, 2 small 5 oz. cans of evaporated milk, 1/4 pound butter or margarine (we always use real butter), 1 – 16 oz. tub Marshmallow Fluff, and 1 teaspoon salt.  These are the initial ingredients.  Toward the end you add 1.5 teaspoons vanilla, 1 cup walnut meats (if desired – Bill doesn’t like nuts so we never get this part), and 2 large 12 oz. bags of semi sweet chocolate chips.  This recipe in full is on the Marshmallow Fluff tub and the website.

Bill combines the first 5 ingredients in a large stock pot.  The recipe suggests a 5 quart saucepan.  All of these ingredients are stirred until well blended over low heat.

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Once combined you will bring the ingredients to a boil, and we recommend stirring continually so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan and/or burn.  Boil the mixture slowly, continuing stirring, until it reaches the soft ball candy stage.  The recipe says this will be about 5 minutes, and interestingly, we use a candy thermometer but, in my conversation this morning, the company owner said he does not.  My husband is an accountant, and also our primary cold process soap blender in Maine, so you can imagine that he likes the precision of the thermometer.  If I made this fudge I might just use the more subjective approach.  Either way, remember, it’s never fail fudge.

You will notice, as this is combined, stirred and boiled, it gets a little darker over time.  It’s almost as though it’s caramelizing a little bit, but I don’t know for sure.

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Once you have achieved soft ball status with this mixture, it’s time to remove it from the heat and add the vanilla, the nuts, and the chocolate chips.  Stir until everything is blended and melted together.

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Now it’s just a matter of pouring it in to your waiting buttered pan or pans.

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It will be very hot at this point, so be careful.  Allow to cool completely and then you can cut it in to chunks of your preferred size.  It yields about 5 pounds of fudge, so this is a great recipe – and very economical – for gift giving as well.  We give a lot of it away, and it always seems to be welcomed with enthusiasm.

As you can see in this next photo, Bill cuts the chunks pretty large.  He made that ceramic bowl they’re sitting in too, but that’s another blog post.

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I know from posting about Never Fail Fudge on our Facebook page that many of you are familiar with it, make it, adapt the recipe for different flavors, etc.  Hopefully some of our readers are new to it and will try this amazingly simple and delicious fudge recipe.  Many thanks to the Durkee-Mower company for permission to share, and for answering my phone call so promptly in snow bound Lynn, Massachusetts.

Happy hooking, happy candy making, and happy eating! – Beth