Thanksgiving Fudge

For me, Thanksgiving is not really about how much food I can stuff into my stomach or about how much football is on TV. Instead, I try to reflect on how I’ve handled the challenges of the year and then set goals for the next year.IMG_0595 copy

Two years ago, on the Monday after Thanksgiving, I came up with a hare-brained scheme to sign up for the (now-defunct) 2012 Danskin Triathlon. I desperately needed to do something to get into shape, and I thought a personal BHAG would be just the thing to motivate me.

Despite the fact that I was horribly out of shape and had two extremely bad knees, I decided to go for it. I started walking. It hurt like hell, but I kept at it. I swam. That was much better, but swimming in the winter is absolutely no fun, even if it’s an indoor pool. I started cycling. Finding the right-sized bike was a huge challenge, but I finally found one that fit in a bike shop in San Antonio. I did OK on flat surfaces, but there are no flat surfaces in Austin. Going up hills was murder on my knees.

I worked really hard all that winter and into spring, despite the pain. One month from the race, I suddenly came down with a respiratory virus that paralyzed my left vocal cord. I missed the race. I was crushed. When I attempted to train again in the fall of 2012, my knees hurt worse than ever. I knew it was time.

2013 was an absolutely remarkable year. Again, there was pain. Oh yes, lots of pain. But this time, it was the pain of healing. After two knee replacement surgeries and one minor foot surgery, I can now walk without any pain at all for the first time in at least a decade.

Because of my new knees, I have fewer boundaries these days, and I’m so happy. I can start training again. I can travel again. I can walk down the street without feeling like I’m grinding glass in my knee joints. Hell, I can do almost anything I want.

I’m thankful for the people who helped me get through the last year — my partner, my family, my doctors, my friends, and my colleagues. I’m thankful for everything that went right instead of wrong. I’m thankful for the second chance.

3 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 package white chocolate chips (12 oz. or so)
1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow creme
1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped

Heat sugar, butter, orange juice, orange zest, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and milk over medium heat to a full, rolling boil in 3 qt. heavy sauce pan, stirring constantly. Boil on medium heat until the candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees F, stirring constantly.

Take the pan off the heat and add the chips to the mix.

Stir in the marshmallow creme and the dried cranberries.

Stir until the mixture thickens and starts to look dull, and pour it into the foil-lined or buttered cake pan. Let it cool for a couple of hours then cut it into bite-sized squares.

Store the fudge in air-tight containers.

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