This is the fifth entry in my Writers Eat series. I'm asking writers I admire to share their favorite recipes and/or foods here on Plums in the Icebox. The food will sometimes tie in with the writer's work, but sometimes not. If you're a writer and you're interested in participating, let me know!
When I met fellow poet and food blogger Autumn Giles in New York last month, I basically accosted her and was like LET'S TALK ABOUT THE WEST (I was more than a few glasses of champagne deep, I should add.) As a Montana girl, she was pretty accommodating as I rambled on how weird I feel being back on the East Coast. We knew each other from food blogging and from Twitter, but it was such a pleasure to meet her in person. Did I mention she has the coolest vintage glasses ever? Because she does.
The next morning, I headed to her super cute apartment in Sunnyside,Queens (complete with living room rug that looks just like a picnic blanket) to be interviewed for Autumn's Alphabet Soup podcast. Autumn is the creator and curator of the Alphabet Soup podcast, which "makes conversation about the intersection of food and language with folks who eat, talk and think too much" (not sure a more perfect podcast for me exists, by the way, unless it somehow happened to include vintage clothing and babies), and I was SO EXCITED to be a part of it. You can listen to my episode here, if you're interested.
We had a great long chat about eating and writing and everything in between, including MFA progams and not loving Sylvia Plath and first cooking experiences and how to live a fulfilling creative life. Although we didn't really nail down our own relationships to food and writing, Autumn's awesome poems definitely have a bit of a foodie mindset: there's "quince" and "raspberry" and "orange pizza grease" in her ambivalent hymn to New York, "Love, Yonkers." I love this "shakey and sugary" one from La Petite Zine, "Kids These Days." And "Brontosaurus Soup?" Yep, brontosaurus soup. She's tried to write recipe-poems, she said, but never really been able to succeed. I wouldn't be too concerned about that if I were Autumn, because her poems are lovely and her food blog, Autumn Makes and Does, is amazing. She's gluten-free and she's a crazy creative cook (see some of my favorite posts of hers after the recipe).
Autumn says: I had a really hard time deciding on a recipe because a lot of the nonsense that I cook for myself often doesn't necessarily have a recipe... Let's say this is a favorite recipe of mine. And I feel kind of bad choosing this because I know you're a healthy eater, but it's the "never fail" fudge recipe from the back of the marshmallow fluff jar. I love it because I think it reminds me of a lot of stuff that makes me happy. My grandmother makes us fudge every year and mails it in check boxes (always check boxes). I was a huge fan of fluffernutters as a kid and know I shouldn't want to eat marshmallow fluff as an adult, but I do. So, I'd say it's a sentimental fave definitely. And, bonus, it means you get to look at the marshmallow fluff website, which is a GEM.
Never having made fudge before, I was TOTALLY FINE with trying out this recipe. Plus I really liked the idea of cooking a recipe that had such warm associations for Autumn. Grandmothers and happy feelings? Sign me up.
Never Fail Fudge
makes 2 1/2 lbs of fudge
total time: about an hour
total hands on time: maybe 20 minutes?
What you'll need:
2 1/2 cups of sugar
1 7 oz container of marshmallow fluff
1/2 stick of butter or margarine
1 5 oz can evaporated milk
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 bag of semi sweet chocolate pieces
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
What you'll do:
1. Grease a 9 in square baking pan.
2. Combine sugar, marshmallow, salt, evaporated milk and butter in a large saucepan. Stir over low heat until blended.
3. Once blended, bring to a boil over medium heat. Don't mistake escaping air bubbles for a boil..it needs to be a real, rolling boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
4. Try the Soft Ball test. If your mixture is ready, stir in the nuts and chocolate, stirring continuously until the chocolate is melted.
5. Pour mixture into pan and cool until set. Here's mine chilling in my fridge:
I followed the recipe on the Marshmallow Fluff website pretty much exactly to the letter, except I did add a dash of cinnamon. For some reason the walnuts weren't that well distributed, so I think if I make it again, I'll add a bit more of them. I also didn't have a square pan, so I used a circular one.
I have to tell you guys that almost half of this batch of fudge disappeared in about 36 hours. That's a pretty shameful admission, especially considering that, in a two-person household, I'm the only person who even eats fudge. Sooooooo, yeah. This no-fail fudge was somehow light and rich all at once, and so so so sweet. Yesterday I wrapped all the fudge into individual pieces and put it in the freezer so I can stretch out the delicious enjoyment of it for a while longer. We'll see how long I last.
Check out Autumn's incredible food blog, Autumn Makes and Does, where she makes innovative recipes I could never even dream of dreaming up. Exhibit A: Grapefruit Hibisbus Curd. I mean, wow. Right?! Some of my other favorites are her Avocado Paletas, Tomato Water, Sweet and Salty Brownies and (of course!) Chile Rellenos with Potato and Anchovies. Autumn is also a canning maven, so I highly recommend checking out her canning section, as well. You can also follow her on Twitter and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
A big thank you to Autumn for participating in Writers Eat, for introducing me to this great fudge recipe, and for the delicious homecooked treats she gave me after our interview. My hungover belly was very happy on my bus ride back to DC.