While reading Sam Hoffer's blog, http://www.carolinakitchen.blogspot.com/ I remembered a recipe given to me by my mother-in-law, Helen Beall, when I was a young greenhorn wife and cook.
One Christmas she served her home-made chocolate candy. It was the best I'd ever tasted. I had to have the recipe. Helen didn't write it down, but said it was so easy she would tell me how to make it.
"The first thing you do is boil a can of sweetened condensed milk for three hours. Don't let the water boil out and keep the can covered in boiling water at all times." That seemed a peculiar way to make candy, but I was sure I could do that easy enough.
"Second, you chop a cup of pecans very fine. Melt a 16 oz bag of chocolate chips along with a stick of parrafin in a double boiler.
When the milk has cooked, take it out of the water and let it cool.
Dip out one teaspoon of the cooked milk, roll it in the chopped pecans, dip into the melted chocolate and let cool on waxed paper."
On a Sunday afternoon in November just before Thanksgiving while Barry watched football on TV upstairs, I put the can of condensed milk on the stove to boil. I checked my watch and went upstairs to join Barry. Since I am not a big football fan, before long I had fallen asleep on the sofa.
I was awakened by a strange odor. I knew immediately what it was. I jumped up and scooted downstairs to the kitchen. Just as I reached the door, an explosion from the stove sent sticky bits of candied sugared milk flying into every crevice of the cabinets and all over the ceiling, the walls and floor.
I had not kept the can of milk covered with water. The water had boiled away while I slept. How could such a small can of milk make such a mess? For the next three hours I cleaned my kitchen. For weeks afterward, I continued to find sticky stuff in places I'd not have been able to put it in , even if I had tried.
That was the worst cooking mistake I've ever made and the most embarrassing one.
I didn't attempt that recipe for a long time. When I finally tried once again to make the candy, I followed directions and watched the pot. My candy came out melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and not a speck of it was on the ceiling.