“My bawk is knit at both ends…”

There is no way to continue that, I’m afraid. It will definitely last the night and it doesn’t cast a lovely light, so I’ll just quit there.

I am finally reading The Da Vinci Code. Both #1 daughter and #2 son loved this book and read it way back when it was first out in hardcover, but it has taken me this long to get around to it.

Then on the way home from work last night, I heard “Fresh Air” on Opus Dei, the organization which is, in the novel, a sinister secret conspiracy kind of thing. I like that kind of coincidence, and also appreciated the real-world background while reading the fantasy.

While on the subject of ancient mysteries…

My great-grandmother used to make this famous candy, known to us merely as “Bertha’s Candy.” After her death, no one was able to duplicate it. Using her recipe, people could make frostings and ice cream toppings, but not candy.

Until Christmas 2003, when I typed the ingredients into Google and came up with recipes for “Opera Fudge.” I made the fudge, my mother pronounced it the same as Bertha’s famous candy, and I thought the quest had ended.

This year, my mother put the story up on her blog. I emailed with “Uh — don’t you remember…?” and found that she did not have any recollection of my successful production of Bertha’s candy. I would have left it there, because, after all, it is a good story, and my happy ending is not as good as having an ancient mystery.

But she wants a definitive answer. My successful recipe, she felt, is too different from Bertha’s to be the right thing, even if it fooled her at the time. The successful Opera Fudge recipe I found has a sugar to milk ratio of about 2:1, like most traditional fudge recipes. Her grandmother’s recipe is more like 4.5:1. That is the kind of ratio you find in recipes for pralines, but my mother describes Bertha’s candy as “silky,” which is not a word you would use for even the most delicious praline.

Now, we are talking about traditional fudge, not the kind made with condensed milk or marshmallow creme or any of that new-fangled stuff. Just milk, butter, sugar, and corn syrup. The instructions are the usual ones for fudge — cook, cool, beat. So, candy makers of the world, do you have or know of a recipe with those proportions?

Hmm… knitting, reading, cooking… now we just need music. Leonidas has a heartfelt rant against Christmas music at his xanga. He works in retail, of course, so he has been listening to cheesy Christmas music for weeks now. He does try to hook it up with religion, which I find unconvincing since his examples are “Rudolph” and “Jingle Bells.”

But many people suffer from surfeit of Christmas music. They complain a lot. I continue to believe that this is because a) they don’t hear enough variety and b) they aren’t hearing good stuff. Also probably c) they are not joining in the music. I would like to offer you, as an antidote to this problem, an Advent calendar of Christmas music. Beginning today.

The Angel Gabriel is a good Advent carol. It is by Sabine Baring-Gould, the expert on werewolves, set to an ancient Basque tune. It got a surprising new lease on life when Sting recorded it, and this link will allow you to hear a verse sung in a nice traditional style which is nonetheless reminiscent of the boy bands of the late 20th century, or to buy the score so you can gather around the piano and sing it.

I see that I gave a link to this same song on this same date last year. While it is a litle frightening to me that I should display such incredible predictability, I find that I told you a lot more about the history of the song on that occasion, so here is the link if you want to know what the werewolf expert was up to.