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Cabin Fever Cuisine: My kingdom for a stick of butter

Stirring Chocolate FudgeAs a card-carrying survivor of the Blizzard of ’78, I can testify that being snowbound can do crazy things to your judgment. That’s why it’s important to figure out your survival shopping priorities on a sunny day when desperation and panic haven’t yet set in.

Here’s how I learned the hard way …

My personal attack of desperation hit after Day 3 of that historic storm. The ATMs were empty and so were store shelves. Shopping was out of the question, so my roommate and I had to make do with whatever we had in our cupboards.

Power hadn’t gone out, so at least we could cook. But after soup, soup, and more soup, I had a massive, relentless craving for fudge. Obsessed, I scoured the kitchen shelves for ingredients. Cocoa? Sugar? Vanilla? Milk? Check, check, check, check. Butter? Uh… check. The only fat-like substance available was vegetable oil. Being a cooking newbie, I thought this ingredient would be a feasible substitute.

Yummm….the smell was fantastic. The hot mixture even looked legit as I poured it from the saucepan into a pie plate and put it in the fridge to solidify. But after hours and hours of waiting, a dark, viscous mass lurked on the bottom of the dish and a one-inch deep oil slick shimmered on top.

I didn’t have fudge; I had sludge.

Most normal people would have just pitched the mess. But depraved, snow-bound people aren’t normal. I poured off as much oil as possible, and used paper towels to blot any excess as it surfaced. And then, armed with two spoons, my roommate and I ate the rest. It tasted like a cross between a stale, mushy Tootsie Roll and baby formula. But hey — it was chocolate. We survived.

Imagine how sublime it would have been if we’d only had a stick of butter! (For a fool-proof, traditional fudge recipe, click here.)


Coming next: A personal perspective on stocking the winter pantry