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VEEDER: When in doubt, give them fudge

Merry Christmas!

Greetings from the ranch at 11 p.m., where I just finished up two batches of my mom’s fudge recipe (making it, not eating it) and am currently watching the house cat inspect the Christmas tree a little too closely for my present comfort level.

Today my husband and I, on a fluke, were able to get away to finish up some last-minute Christmas shopping together. And when I say a fluke, I mean I was headed out the door, purse on my shoulder, list in hand, ready to tackle the task solo when my husband clumped in in his Carhartts and big boots and told me, “You have to wait for me. I need to get insulation.”

Which translates to, “Put on your best vest, we are going on the closest thing we get to a date… a trip to Menards without the kids.”

And so we were off, but first he had to get the Bobcat to move some wood from the top of the approach to the bottom, feed the cows, hook up the horse trailer, take a work call and put on some going-to-town clothes. So… an hour and a half later, we were off.

And on the way, we had to stop at the bank, the post office, the newspaper office and then, because my blood sugar was low, we had to eat. So then we were off. Officially.

To Menards where I swore I wasn’t going to buy my children more toys, but wound up with an electric keyboard, a play ice cream set, two Nerf guns, a pair of funny Christmas vests and a partridge in a pear tree because he left me alone too long while he was looking at saws or drills or toilets or something. Yeah, he was there for romance and insulation, but I was there for wrapping paper… and now I need more.

Because, after Menards, we went to Runnings. Santa asked me to pick the girls up some sleds, and every brother-in-law and grandpa on my list had a question mark by his name, so it was the natural choice. Because, like I’ve always said, if you feel uninspired, head to the farm and fleet store.

Wool caps? Check. Silk neckerchiefs? Yes ma’am. Every flavor of jerky imaginable? You got it. Leather gloves? Uh huh! Union suits for all sizes? Of course! Fishing gear for ice or sun? A giant barrel of licorice? Chicken coops and the chickens to live in them? Hand warmers? Coolers and travel mugs of all sizes? Coveralls and overalls and under-alls? Spices and seasoning for every piece of wild game meat imaginable? Check, check, check, checkity check. It’s a Midwestern man’s shopping paradise!

We were so inspired we bought a gift for every man we’ve ever met in Watford City… but we still couldn’t find a gift for my father-in-law that would make him as happy as that fudge I just wrapped up. And although my husband and I had a lovely time on our date, I would like to share the magic fudge recipe with you, like I do every year, just in case you think your father-in-law will find the wool cap too itchy, the silk scarf too hot and the fish seasoning too seasoned. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas, dear readers. If you need me, I’ll be monitoring the Christmas tree and applying for a fourth job… maybe at Runnings…

Momma’s Mouthwatering Fudge

Ingredients

1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips

1 12-ounce package milk chocolate chips

3 teaspoons vanilla

4 1/2 cups sugar

1 pound butter (no worries — I’ll post my Momma’s instructional aerobic video after Christmas)

1 8-ounce can evaporated milk

Got it? OK, onward.

Directions:

Butter and 8-by-12-inch baking dish.

Bring sugar and evaporated milk to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue to stir and boil for 7 minutes.

Remove pot from heat and stir in chocolate chips, vanilla and butter. Stir until smooth and pour into the buttered baking dish.

Refrigerate until set. Cut, package and give the gift that fits everyone.

Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughters on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. She blogs at https://veederranch.com. Readers can reach her at jessieveeder@gmail.com.

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