Recently in Talking to Myself Category

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Nutella Fudge

Last year, a suggestion led me to experiment a bit with KG's (that's Knitting Grandma, to long-time blog readers) fudge recipe. KG's chocolate-walnut fudge is a family favorite, and she makes pounds of it every year. What else, I wondered, could I do with that recipe?

I tried various things. Chili and cinnamon, peppermint, and almond varieties come to mind. Then someone suggested Nutella. You know Nutella, right? It's that chocolate and hazelnut spread that all the Europeans like way more than peanut butter. They even like Italian Nutella much better than the stuff you can buy in the US. [True story! Sven is 100-percent convinced that the Nutella you can buy in Italy is far superior to the stuff that graces the shelves of our Key Foods.]

Last year I began the quest for the recipe. My basic fudge recipe is here. I make no secret about that. What? Can't get Fluff where you are? Just use 20 full-size marshmallows, instead.

Colleen's Nutella Fudge

  • 1 3/4 c. sugar

  • 3/4 tsp. salt

  • 1/2 stick butter or margarine

  • 2/3 c.evaporated milk

  • 1 Jar (7 1/2oz) Marshmallow Fluff

  • 3/4 tsp. hazelnut extract (Last year I had trouble finding this. THIS year, I notice that my local market stocks it.)

  • 1 12-oz. Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips

  • 1/2 c. chopped hazelnuts

  • 1/2 c. hazelnut butter (Even as a NYer I had trouble finding hazelnut butter. I finally found it at Kalustyans, for those of you who are local. If you're not in the area you can order online from Kalustyans, the hazelnut butter is item 231H02

  • Grease a 9-inch square baking pan; set aside.

    In large saucepan (2 quarts is a good size) combine the first 5 ingredients. Stir frequently (if not constantly) over low heat until blended. Increase heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir the mixture slowly so that you don't mix in a lot of air and confuse yourself as to whether or not the bubbles are just air escaping or the mixture beginning to boil. Boil slowly for five minutes, stirring constantly.

    After five mintues, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the hazelnut extract and the chocolate until chocolate is completely blended melted. Add the hazelnut butter and chopped nuts and blend those completely into the mixture. Turn into greased pan and cool. I usually slice my fudge before it's completely cooled off--it makes it easier that way.

    Makes 2 1/2 pounds of fudge, and you the hit of the party!

    Things I Don't Like

    This morning, I do not like the New York State Senate. Although my Senator supported the equal rights of all of his constituents yesterday, the majority of his colleagues did not. New York State: you can suck it!

    It must also be said that I've never fully liked my digital camera. I've never been able to produce great images with it--every one is so blue, and the battery life is terrible. This camera reality is highlighted by the fact that my darling husband is now the proud owner of a Nikon D90. Oh, I don't have much of a clue how to use it, but that shutter makes the most delightful "ca-thwip" when you press the button. It is very truly satisfying. *ca-thwip* *ca-thwip* *ca-thwip*

    I'm not getting a D90 or any other kind of DSLR. It's just not practical. You see, in my other life I spend a lot of time hanging around construction sites, old buildings, scaffolding, you name it. A point-and-shoot is just more what I need those situations.

    So, to be more accurate, what I really need is a point-and-shoot that makes me happy.

    Oh, and it's also time to admit that I don't have a clue in h-e-l-l about this Google Wave. Can somebody tell me what it is supposed to do?



    I have returned!

    Now I'm sure that you're thinking that this will be the post where I unveil a perfectly knit cardigan top.

    Well, um, uh, it won't be. Why? You know how I always say that I'll have tons and tons of knitting time on the plane? [Check the archives. I always, without fail, say this before I leave for a trip that involves an airplane. Always, always, always.] The reality is that I never, ever do a lot of knitting at the airport or on the plane.

    Why? If I knit at all, it's usually while waiting at the gate and during the first few hours of flying. This time I arrived at gate just as boarding began. This is a rare occurrence for Subway Knitter, as I usually like to leave for the airport with plenty of time to spare "just in case". Well, I guess this was one of those "just in case" moments. Things did not start well: the PATH train was an agonizing 10 minutes late. As a result, I had to take a later bus from Newark. The bus crawled through downtown. Every traffic light was red. Every other boarding passenger needed to ask (only after boarding) "Does this bus go to IKEA?" and then had to get off. I will swear that every departing passenger could barely walk down those two steps at the doorway and needed the driver to lower the bus (and then could still barely manage). By the time I arrived at the airport, I was a humid, soggy mess. I took a few precious moments to try and fix things in the bathroom. I had limited success.

    Upstairs, the line at security stretched for a mile (luckily I had already checked in online, and had only hand luggage). The screeners did, however, move relatively quickly, and it was reassuring to hear that those standing with me all had similar flight times. We distracted ourselves by sending silent "shut up" vibes to that group of giddy, singing Irish teenagers who had obviously spent the last month doing a little too much "bonding". They could not have cared less how long that line was because they were with their friends, and that was the most important thing. The rest of us had Somewhere To Be.

    We then remarked how old we were getting when a group of singing teenagers could send us over the edge [And wasn't it only a few years ago that I was doing the same thing? No, it was more like 15. Oh.]

    The line would have needed to be much longer to have caused me to miss my flight, but I hate that feeling of cutting it too close for comfort. Long story short: no knitting at the gate.

    On the plane, those seats are cramped. Then, they turn out the lights about two hours into the flight. Your seatmates don't like it when you put on that overhead spotlight (they don't say anything, but they're secretly shooting you death rays). Then, it's hard to get an accurate measurement of something if you need for it to be, for example, exactly seven inches long. I guess that I find the idea of plane knitting to be a lot more appealing than the plane knitting itself.

    I know what you're thinking: "But surely, Colleen, you did some knitting while you were there. I mean, it was a vacation, after all. You like to knit. You get to do things that you like on vacation, so surely you knit on vacation."

    Um, no.

    "What?! Why?"

    Well, dear readers, the fact is that sometimes (and just sometimes) my life is not only about the yarn. I hope that all of you can say the same. Sven and I were in Germany for a friend's wedding.

    I cleaned myself up, and put on a hat:


    Between the eating, drinking, dancing, talking, eating, and drinking there wasn't any time for knitting. We were having too much fun celebrating the happy couple.


    Besides, I had my hands full: I caught the bouquet! Somehow, Sven managed a brave face after this happened, but think that he's still processing the news.

    Bouquet0703.jpg I got the bouquet through US Customs without a hitch. [Hitch, get it?] The question is, now that it's home, what do I do with it? I know that someone here will know of a clever tradition.

    Here's Sven, smiling, all the while looking for his escape: SvenontheBoat0703.jpg

    The next couple of days were a blur of boat tours, meals with friends, and a pretty German town. As an American I will always be impressed at the Europeans' ability to make modern life work in ancient towns like this. It's nice to be reminded that it can be done. Moelln0703.jpg

    Canals in Hamburg. This was the view from our hotel room's balcony (!):


    And watching the Euro Cup final. I was in Montreal in 2000 when France won the final (I know, Montreal is not actually in France, but that wasn't the time to have that discussion with the natives), so I felt as if I might bring the team some luck.

    NoFootball0703.jpg Football playing not allowed? Try telling that to the locals.

    On Sunday everyone, and I mean everyone, was doing this: FootballFans0703.jpg


    The game was echoing in nearly empty streets as hundreds of televisions were simultaneously tuned into the broadcast. The restaurants that were open became impromptu sports bars. The remainder were closed.

    The police were prepared for some serious shenanigans:


    But why not watch the game until they happen?


    On that day, my friends, I was a German Football fan. Germany lost. I have to say that the team didn't play extremely well. Whenever Germany had the ball, Spain managed to take it away. The disappointment was noticeable--for about 10 minutes. Then everyone resumed life. Ah, those efficient Germans.


    [Note the little guy in the lower left corner with the self-made headband.]

    And, here I am, back in New York. I'm back in my knitting chair, ready to continue. Tomorrow.

    Dear New York State DMV,

    Ten minutes. What's up with that? I think that it took me longer to walk there and back.

    I decided that it was high time that I surrendered my Massachusetts driver's license in favor of one from the Empire State. I went through the rigmarole of getting my Social Security card reissued (I must have had one before this, I have a Social Security number after all, but I've never seen an actual card in my name before last week.) Prior to Monday, I would have said that the Social Security Administration's Brooklyn office had the market cornered on efficient bureaucracy, but you, NYS DMV, have got them beat hands down.

    I await the results of your institutional photography skills.


    Subway Knitter

    I went prepared for a long wait. Indeed, when I stepped inside I noticed a few poor souls perched on those light-wood benches in the middle of the room. I walked up to desk number one (the desk where your paperwork gets a cursory review for completeness, and you get directed to the correct line), and I was told to go see the guy at the camera immediately--where there was no line. The camera guy quickly looked at my documents, made some scribbles in a red marker pen, and took my photograph (I hope that my hair was okay). He then gave me a printed receipt with a number, and told me to sit on a bench and wait for my number to be called.

    "Ah, ha!" I said. Here's the wait. How much knitting am I going to get done? What's blinking on the board up there...K42. What does my ticket say? K42. Hey, that's me! I was summoned to window 16 without a chance to sit down.

    At window 16 I was relieved of $45; my passport, Social Security card, and Massachusetts license were all scrutinized for authenticity. More scribbles were made on my application form. Stamps were used. Getting a driver's license is a serious business these days. I remember when my 16-and-a-half-year-old self showed up at the RMV (it's a "Registry" in Massachusetts, compared with a "Department" in New York) with little more than a copy of my birth certificate and some form that got stamped by the registry cop who administered my driving test. When I officially moved to Rhode Island in 1997, all that I needed was my valid Massachusetts license. When I moved back to Massachusetts, the RMV simply took my Rhode Island license and reissued my yet-to-have-expired old license (yeah, that was some good record keeping there--move to another state and they forgot to cancel my file.) Heck, I applied for my passport with less documentation than what I needed to show yesterday morning.

    Anyway, I was done at window 16 in about five minutes. The entire transaction took (and I am not making this up) less than 10 minutes. I left with a paper receipt, a temporary license, and a promise that the real license would arrive in my mailbox within two to four weeks.

    So obviously, I am one of a select few eligible to operate a motor vehicle under the flag of New York State. And I don't even own a car! If I did, though, I am disappointed to report that this registration is already taken:


    And I Got Frisked Twice

    Wow, has it really been two weeks away? It was a wonderful, relaxing, enjoyable time, but it's good to be back to the normal routine in New York. The trip was, overall, a resounding success, I just wish that some of the details had been a bit smoother. Interestingly, all those details somehow revolved around Heathrow (long delays, flight cancellations, lost and damaged baggage). And, because I look so suspicious, I got frisked not just once, but twice. Actually, it wouldn't be a trip through Heathrow if I didn't get frisked. Every time I use that airport, without fail, I am always subjected into extra searches. That, and my wristwatch breaks. I'm not making this up. These two things alway happen. Whenever I get close to London something goes wrong with my watch. This time the battery died two days before the trip began.

    Anyway, I'm happy to see that was once again I was able to stick to tradition. My baggage liked Heathrow so much that it decided to stay an extra day.


    You're back! I thought that I had created an enormous problem for myself by attempting to change the bags' delivery address midstream. I thought that American Airlines at JFK would have the capacity to accept one delivery address on Sunday, and another address (my office) on Monday. Apparently, never in the history of American Airlines or the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has anyone ever attempted something so brazen as to request this. So, despite being told initially by American Airlines that changing the delivery address after a day would be "no problem," it was indeed, "a problem." Luckily, the address change never worked its way through the impenetrable system of the baggage department at JFK, and the delivery service redelivered my luggage the next day to my home. And luckily I was able to zip home quickly to pick it up.

    Anyway, this is a knitting blog, not a travel blog.

    Maybe all this is just to disguise the fact that I took a two-week break from knitting. Yep, I have minimal progress to show for all the time that I spent in planes and trains. Why? Well, I was a bit of an eager beaver in the days leading up to Christmas. So eager, in fact, that I noticed a distinct twinge in my right-hand wrist on the outgoing flight. While some knitters would pop some Tylenol and keep on going, I am not that kind of knitter. So, I stopped.

    Then, simultaneous with landing in Germany I came down with a whopper of a cold. Cold + jetlag = not so good. In fact, I didn't think that I truly adjusted to European time while I was there. Then again, now that I'm back in New York I want to go to bed every night at 8:30, so something must have happened.

    I've got some catching up to do in the next week or so. Stay tuned.

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