The only thing I can cook okay is candy. I make it and give it away (what we don't eat) once a year, sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'm not talking about magazine type candy like peanut butter balls or chocolate covered peanuts. I'm talkin about old-time homemade candy. Fudge with pecans, fudge with peanut butter, peanut butter candy, pralines, panocha, and my personal favorite: divinity. Sometimes I make cream cheese candy or orange candy, but they aren't that popular so I don't make them that often. I can only eat so many leftovers, you know.
I began by making fudge when I was, oh, nine or ten. Then I added the others, except for divinity. I never could get divinity right. But one of my neighbors, Mrs. Margaret Harvell, made the best divinity ever and when she saw me gobbling it up, she offered to teach me how. Think I didn't jump at the chance?
"This is never-fail divinity," she assured me. "It always comes out pretty." So I watched the boiling syrup till she showed me it was spinning threads (that was the first time I understood what 'spinning a thread' in candy talk means). Then I watched her beat the egg whites stiff. Then I watched her pour the syrup into the egg whites as she continued beating. Then we spooned it out into pretty swirls. Perfect.
And the first time I made it by myself, it was perfect! I was nineteen or so before I actually had a batch fail and realized that confidence was the key. That was the big thing Mrs. Harvell gave me. Since then I've only had three or four batches not work.
She's dead now, but her divinity recipe is still going strong! Even in this sugar-conscious, calorie-conscious, healthy-eating age, people ask me for it. Thank you, Mrs. Margaret Harvell!