Once again we are celebrating Julie’s Epiphany birthday with a wonderful dinner which she has prepared. And once again, we are exchanging our often home-made gifts. And once again, some of the gifts are not quite ready. This must be part of our tradition, I think, as at least one present is not ready every year. I usually feel that I have forever to prepre my gift, now that my Christmas gift making hysteria is by, and the Twelfth Night is a long way off. I become overconfident, and thus less frenzied about getting done on time. This year, Julie made lovely tea cosies for Rebecca and I, and mine is not quite done. But it soon will be. Sadly, I cannot say the same of my present for Julie. It never will be done, in the sense of ready to present. Also sadly, it probably will soon be done, in the sense of eaten up.
I have made divinity fudge many times, but not for a long time. I first learned to make it in the eighth grade class of that termagant, Sister Hilda Marie. After observing her making it in our school kitchen, carefully transcribing the recipe, noting the elusive sugar threads and all Sister Hilda Marie’s other culinary techniques, I tried it at home. It was a disastrous gooey mess. Later, as a young bride, with a cookbook and a candy thermometer (no arcane thread watching for me now!), I tried it again, and this time with signal success. It became one of my signature dishes. However, it has been many years since I made it, and I was anxious to make it again. If it were a gift, I could eat one or two pieces, thus not making myself sick or fatter, and have a lovely present. I knew that it was rumored to be trickier, if not fatal, to make it on a rainy day, but my recipe said to heat the syrup two degrees hotter if it was raining, and I was quite certain that I had made it on rainy days. This is Seattle, after all. Well, in this case, the rumors turned out to be too true, and my efforts resulted in another gooey mess. Instead of delightful little melt-in-your mouth puffs, I had sticky, oozey puddles of sugary glue. I considered throwing the whole batch down the sink. But --- they didn’t taste bad at all. Rather like little blobs of seven-minute frosting, my favorite. I didn’t quite have the fortitude to toss them, and now every time I walk by them, I have to take a sticky blob – just to test it and see if it still tastes like divinity, even if it doesn’t look or feel like it. It does. It tastes wonderful - a dangerous for the waistline situation.
Years ago, I made a batch of divinity for my Great Aunt Agnes, who loved it. I asked Dakki, then a young thing, do deliver it. She agreed. When I next visited Aunt Agnes, I asked her if she had enjoyed the divinity. She looked perplexed. Dakki looked very embarrassed. Maybe, on the next clear day, when I make another batch for Julie, I had better make some for Dakki too. Don’t tell her. It will be a nice surprise.