This weekend The Artist and I went to a memorial service for a dear family friend. Bob was a classmate of my father’s at the Naval Academy at the end of World War II and went on to be a highly decorated submariner, serving during the Korean War. People from all over the state came together to celebrate Bob’s life and share in the fun and laughter once more.
My parents were from Indiana but once stationed in San Diego, my father declared he would never endure another Indiana winter and moved the family West. Without the typical gathering of assorted relatives living nearby, we depended on our friends to become our extended family. We were lucky to settle in the San Francisco Bay Area near several families that became a tight-knit clan of sorts, the Rickers being a pivotal part of that group. The adults played bridge regularly, threw dinner parties and planned vacations together. I do not remember a time when they were not in my life and I am richer for those relationships.
The Rickers are one of the most wonderful families I have ever known. Bob and Betty had four of their own children and several “adopted” exchange students joined the family. Full of love, laughter, spirituality, and generosity, this is the family you want to be your neighbor and best friends. The kids have all grown into wonderful, caring adults with children of their own and the traditions that Bob and Betty set forth continue down the generations.
In honor of Bob and the rest of the people who make up the “greatest generation” I have selected a classic recipe from the 1950s. World War II had ended and Korea was wrapping up when Eisenhower was voted into office as President of the United States. America was at peace, everyone had jobs, and life was good.
The First Lady was Mamie Eisenhower, a gracious hostess who also loved to cook. Her most famous recipe was her Million Dollar Fudge, printed in papers across the nation, passed from one home cook to another, and became the standard manner of making fudge, enduring even today.
I hope you make this delicious fudge and share it with your family. And if you are lucky enough to have parents or grandparents still with you, sit down with them and have them tell you the stories of their lives. I bet you will learn things you never had an inkling of before and even more importantly, will have those stories to pass along to future generations.
Thank you Mr. Ricker for the wonderful laughs, hugs, and always caring so much about everyone in your life. We will miss you!
White House Fudge (Mamie’s Million Dollar Fudge)
Slightly modified from a recipe on Food.com
Yield: about 4 lb candy
The darker the chocolate you use, the less sweet your fudge will be and you will get a bigger hit of chocolate in every bite.
4-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
1-2/3 cups evaporated milk (one 12 oz can)
2 tbsp butter
2-1/2 cups chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (NOT unsweetened)
2 cups marshmallow creme (two 7 oz jars)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups chopped pecans, optional
Butter a heatproof pan (11×16-inch jelly roll pan or another of similar size). Set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, salt, milk, and butter. Bring to a vigorous boil, stirring often; then reduce heat and simmer 6 minutes, stirring continuously.
Meanwhile, place the chocolate, marshmallow crème, and vanilla into a large heatproof bowl. Gradually pour boiling syrup over the chocolate-marshmallow mixture while whisking. Beat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smoothly combined. Stir in nuts if using.
Pour into prepared pan and let sit several hours at room temperature to harden before cutting into 1-inch squares.
Store in a covered tin; keeps up to 6 months in a cool place.
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