My daughter and I have just finished making the various kinds of fudge that we distribute to neighbors, friends, and various workers and employees of places that we do business with. We hit upon this seasonal gift a good few years ago, after a visit to a very nice shop in Fredericksburg in the Hill Country, which featured infinite varieties of fudge. Those that we tasted were excellent, and my daughter was inspired to replicate the variety. We had previously done cookies and other home-made treats, but when it came around the next year and neighbors began asking us, with wistful hope, “Are you going to make fudge again, this year? We really liked it …” we realized that we were onto a winning strategy for holiday gifting.
Better than fruitcake – although fruit cake does have fans – and relatively less expensive than Swiss Colony assortments or Harry and David fruit baskets. We’ve just finished making the various batches for this year; the slabs are all neatly packed and stacked in an ice chest. Tomorrow we’ll start packaging them, and take the first lot around to various recipients
Over the last decade, we took to loading up on quality ingredients, as they came available at Costco or Sam’s Club: Ghirardelli chocolate, real butter, cream, nuts, and dried fruit. We couldn’t help but notice shrinkage of the Sam’s Club packages of Ghirardelli over the last few years, and then we couldn’t find them at all, and switched over to buying ingredients for the seasonal production at the Aldi in Victoria on our way home from Goliad’s Christmas on the Square. Late this last summer, we discovered a bounty of quality baking chocolate on the marked-down shelves at HEB; getting close to the ‘best-if-sold-by’ date; four-ounce bricks of semi-sweet for under a $1, 10-ounce bags of chips for 75 cents … yes, we left some for other customers. We’re not hoarders, you know. We just knew we would likely never see excellent chocolate at that price again.
Considering how the price of groceries and everything else is inflating, and how supply-chain issues are leaving unexplained and erratic gaps on store shelves, this indeed might be the last year that we can do the fudge assortments. Butter, cream, chocolate, sugar – all those good things will certainly be more expensive next year. The prices for meat, especially for beef and bacon have all but doubled in the last few months alone. Looking ahead and considering the credible news sources available to me, makes me wonder if grocery store shelves might eventually look like those in Venezuela – bare of anything at all, or like those in Soviet Russia, years ago?
Food austerity looms on the horizon like an oncoming storm-cloud. In the near future, we may not be able to afford certain items, or they aren’t available at any price. We had a taste of what serious shortages might look like, last year during the first weeks of the Covid panic, when shelves of canned goods were practically stripped bare, as was the bakery and fresh meat section, while shoppers waiting impatiently for milk and eggs to be restocked. We worry, and not without reason, about what will happen in the coming year. I can’t see how things can improve, economically and politically, although living in Texas may shelter us from the very worst that can happen.
It has been very nice, living in a world where ordinary, working-class people like my daughter and I can afford to give away a nice edible gift of home-made treats, much less be able to eat protein like eggs and meat for supper five nights out of seven. I wonder if we are living in the last days of the golden era that was an era of plenty; plenty of food, cheap gas, inexpensive luxuries. What a piece of work are our ruling class, that they would cheerfully consign regular citizens to a bleak, cold and deprived future. Comment as you wish.