Thursday, May 10, 2012

"Fudging" Cooking Ability

by Amy Alessio

Thanks so much to Evelyn David and the Stiletto Gang for letting me return to guest on this blog. Evelyn told me she loves old recipes, and once started on that topic I find it hard to stop!
I love vintage cookbooks, and own over four hundred and fifty of them. I unleash them on the unsuspecting public when I give talks on themes I notice from my collection, like Jello, pies, cookies and cakes. All the food groups are represented – that is, the important ones. What I’ve learned is that most people have memories closely tied to recipes. I can’t believe how many people associate Jello recipes with certain holidays. In my family every holiday has a Jello concoction and we call it salad when it should be called dessert.

My series of short stories feature Alana O’Neill, a bookkeeper at her uncle’s antiques mall. She has a booth of kitchenalia and does not like to sell many of her cookbooks. She, like me, loves to try recipes from decades past, even if we are not good at making them. In Blast From the Past, Alana tries to make fancy chili chocolates after a professional baker makes fun of her old cookbooks. Alana is distracted when her teen son slams the door and ends up dumping way too much chili powder into the candy. Blast From the Past is one of three novellas featured in Hearts and Daggers
, a collection of romantic suspense. Authors Mary Welk and Margot Justes provide the other two stories, and all of our characters connect in the stories.
I also included over twenty recipes with my story, though none are for chili chocolates. They are from my collection of handwritten recipe boxes. I do have a few from my own family, and I want to share some with you today.

Here is my Grandma Curtin’s Fudge Recipe. This was handwritten, and lacks some key steps.
5 cups sugar (How can you go wrong with a recipe that begins with this?)¼ lb. butter1 large can Pet Condensed Milk3 pkg. Chocolate Chips (Nestles 6 oz.)1 jar Marshmallow FluffAbout 1 cup walnuts, chopped
Combine sugar, butter & milk. Bring to boil, let boil for 9-10 minutes low. Pour this mixture over choc. Chips & fluff. Beat until smooth. Add nuts, pour into greased pan and refrigerate. Cut in about 1 hour.

Then there’s my Mother’s clipping for Chocolate Marshmallow Fudge. I was intrigued by the note that it “Makes 5 pounds.” Perhaps that is what is gained on your scale after eating this one.
½ cup butter, or margarine2 pounds (4 ½ cups) sugar1 can (14 ½ oz.) evaporated milk½ pound marshmallows2 oz. unsweetened chocolate2 packages (6 oz. each) semi-sweet chocolate pieces3 packages (4 oz. each) sweet chocolate2 cups chopped pecans, walnuts, or other nuts1 tablespoon vanilla
In a large heavy saucepan mix butter, sugar, and evaporated milk. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Cook to boiling, cover, and boil for 5 minutes. Add marshmallows; stir until melted. Add chocolate, one kind at a time, stirring until melted. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Pour into buttered 15-by-10-inch jelly roll pan. Cool until firm before cutting fudge into 1-inch squares. If desired, press pecan half into each square. Fudge freezes well.
Get out your defibrillator. Notice I don’t do shows on “Healthy Vintage Recipes,” as it would not last more than about five minutes.
Do you have a favorite family recipe? Comment with your email address or email me at and I will send you some Jello recipes.

Amy Alessio is a teen librarian and an author. She is also an adventurous and unskilled cook who is trying to train her young sons to cook dinner. She is obsessed with Vintage Cookbooks and Crafts and you can share that obsession by reading her blog at .


  1. We have a holiday dish -- cranberry ice - made by barely cooking fresh cranberries, sieving them, adding some Knox gelatin, sugar, ginger ale and then freezing til slushy & then using a mixer - beat the heck out of it... important sidebar - cranberry stains like heck & this usually ends up on the ceiling/walls/cook during completion of receipe. girlygirlhoosier{at}

  2. I love vintage cookbooks too! All cookbooks, really, although I rarely cook from them. I also have some notebooks from my grandmother with handwritten recipes and clippings, just like yours! As for jello-at Thanksgiving we always have a jello salad (yes, we call it salad too!) I'll e-mail you the recipe-it's a bit long to post here.

  3. I remember recipes like that, before all the healthy eating stuff started. Do you know fluffer nutters? Now, my pleasure comes from remembering. Jello" salads can still work, though. I liked your post.

  4. I have several fluffer nutter has prunes. Thanks for the great comments and I will send recipes if I have your email address.

  5. Thanks Amy for guest blogging with us today!

    Evelyn David

  6. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Keep up the good work