Fudge: The gift that’s always fine

Just the thought of delicious, finger-licking, deep-chocolate Christmas fudge reminds me not of unneeded calories, but of my favorite neighbor, Patty Kirby. She brings me a slab of fudge the week before Christmas every year.

Patty makes my favorite kind with no nuts.

I always send back a plate of frosted sugar cookies. Believe me, I get the best of that holiday deal. It takes me a month to nibble all the fudge in my tin because I am the only sweet eater in the house.

That’s a good thing at fudge time.

Carolyn de Lambert is lucky like me. Her Lowell-area neighbor sends over what de Lambert calls "Gladys’ Gourmet Fudge for a Fortunate Few" each year. Last year, the yummy gift was toted by a carol-singing clan.

Can anything be nicer than goodies delivered by tuneful angels? I don’t think so.

At the Joe and Gladys Bismore home, there is usually a big enough group around to make more than a quartet. The family includes five grown daughters and 17 grandchildren. Part of the family lives downstairs. A couple of grandchildren live upstairs.

One might think this family is busy enough without making fudge for the down and out, fringe family and neighbors. They started taking fudge to folks at church years ago, and the gift-giving has blossomed.

This large family is busy with church youth group food drives and swim meets. Gladys Bismore, 64, construction contract specialist for Snohomish County, is past president of the Greater Everett Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction.

Her husband, Joe, is retired. He is one of those slender types who loves chocolate and never gains a pound. He is the one who usually stirs the fudge. The family makes several batches to deliver each year.

Their neighbor, Carolyn de Lambert, said the Bismore fudge recipe is unparalleled in sweet circles.

"Eagerly awaited each December by a chosen few, it never disappoints," de Lambert said. "If anything, it improves. Last year, the personalized delivery, the family choir serenaded one of the lucky recipients, who, until the finest choir in the area sang Christmas songs in perfect harmony, had lost the Christmas spirit."

Here is the Bismores’ recipe:

Lightly grease 13-by-9-inch or 9-inch square pan. Mix margarine, milk and sugar in large saucepan; bring to rolling boil on medium heat stirring constantly; continue boiling 5 minutes on medium heat or until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees, stirring constantly; remove from heat; gradually stir in chips until melted; add remaining ingredients, mix well; pour into prepared pan; cool at room temperature; cut into squares. Gladys Bismore sometimes adds peanut butter, crushed peppermint candy, rum or peanuts.

As Bismore makes her fudge each year, she knows it’s doing more than pleasing palates. One year, one of her daughters collected food and presents for a needy school friend. Someone else delivered the gifts to the home so the teen-ager wouldn’t know who helped her family.

"It made them feel so good," Bismore said. "We encourage that. Our grandchildren are learning to give in many ways."

At the Bismore house, there are 29 stockings on the mantle.

"We’re a big group and can’t imagine not having a big group together at the holidays," she said. "No one should be alone at Christmas."

No one should be without fudge, either.

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