I have been baking with my little Sous Chef since he was old enough to sit still on the counter and he has really developed a love for it. Sometimes he creates elaborate baking masterpieces in his head, telling me he wants to make chocolate cupcakes with pink on the inside and chocolate on top. Other times he has fairly simple requests, “let’s make chocolate”. I’ll admit this specific simple request stumped me, but luckily, The Mister was there to suggest we make fudge. I have fond memories of my grandparents making batches and batches of old fashion chocolate and peanut butter fudge every year around the holidays. Looking for a recipe to make with Paddy, I found some of these recipes, but they involved candy thermometers and various complicated steps that seemed like just too much for this particular chocolate undertaking. The recipe I settled on had just three ingredients and as many steps. Perfect!
Now, I am not one to shy away from complex recipes, but sometimes things are over complicated for no reason. The end product has to justify the means…I am very Machiavellian when it comes to my baking. While this fudge doesn’t taste exactly like my grandparent’s, it is yummy enough and I didn’t spend all day making it or risk superheated sugar burns.
Because making fudge didn’t add enough sugar to our weekend, we decided to take the kiddos out to a local sugar shack to see how maple syrup is made. Every year in March, the maple makers in New York state host open houses and pancake breakfasts for people to come out and learn more about the maple making process. And we love maple!
Paddy is a very curious little man, so we took him out to see how much of his brain we could fill. He remembered quite a bit of information about the whole process. My favorite part being that maple syrup comes from…clearly…Maple Syrup trees!
Other highlights from our time at the sugar shack include a wonderful horse-drawn wagon ride through the maple trees to see their sap lines. A family goat came along for the ride and sat right in front with the woman driving the horses. This goat, about halfway through the trip, realized that Mr. Paddy had a maple lollipop and tried to climb into the back of the wagon to get to it. This whole scene was far funnier than I am capable of putting into words, trust me.
The weather on Sunday was so very enjoyable. It was cool, only about 40 degrees, but the sun was out and there was not a cloud to be seen. After grey days and negative temperatures all winter long, we’ll take whatever we can get. With windows open and sun flooding the house, I strapped the baby to my back and went back to baking…this time, fresh hamburger buns for dinner.
While me and my mini-est Pastry Chef baked in the kitchen, my boys broke out Paddy’s train set and played for a while before heading outside to clean the garage and get some fresh air.
We managed to fit a lot of fun into this weekend and it was so refreshing. The takeaway, for me, at least, is that depression sucks. Since finally making the call and trying out some medication, I can say that I am truly able to better enjoy my family and my time. My mind seems clear again and able to process positive emotions. It’s wonderful.