I took the day off from my day job to enter my Grandma Leona’s fudge recipe the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance Heirloom Recipe Contest. The alliance is dedicated to celebrating and preserving food traditions of the American Midwest. The judging is based 50% on the story of the recipe and the other half on the taste and presentation. It is so much fun to hear about people’s family food traditions.
Mom joined me for the open judging in the Indiana Arts Building. My dear mom, Meg (born 1940), has fond memories of her mother, Leona (born 1905), making fudge for the family as a treat. Mom’s memory is that Grandma first learned the recipe when she was a nursing student at St. Vincent’s Hospital in the early 1930s. She and her classmates lived in a dormitory in the old Fall Creek hospital so they didn’t get to venture very far from their studies and clinical work. The fudge would have been easy to make on a hotplate and the required stirring would have been a great activity to do with a group of friends.
I included two recipe cards with the fudge– one in my Mom’s handwriting and one in mine. From the cards it’s clear why Mom is the better cook. Her card details all of the steps down to the type of cup to put the cold water in to test for the soft ball stage. My card, in my loopy pre-teen handwriting is short on details and full of my just-learned 4-H knowledge about using a candy thermometer.
It is also an interesting study on how family recipes are handed down through the generations. My version calls for one tablespoon of vanilla and in Mom’s, one teaspoon. I didn’t add pecans to this batch, but if I did Mom’s recipe calls for 1 1/3 cups and mine for one cup. Miscopying errors can change the flavor of the recipe – my haste as in impatient girl in writing out the recipe is yet another reason that my Mom is the better cook.
The fudge didn’t win any prizes but I sure did enjoy spending the day with Mom.