Monday, December 12, 2011

Memories in the making!

I have been very busy during my absence from blogland! We have a couple kinds of cookies in the freezer, some spiced almonds, chocolate covered pretzels and some pecan bark.  Our Christmas cards are in the process of being finished. I have been using a couple Stampin Up sets to make our Christmas cards ( I will share pictures sooner or later!)

Today is about Christmas memories and traditions. The tradition in question here is hard tack candy. Christmas hard tack candy is something that I can remember to fairly early childhood days. When I was a kid we had a covered back porch off the kitchen and that is where Mom would set the candy for it to cool. Today, the candy cools on our front porch.

I am sure if I looked hard enough I could come up with a picture of candy making from my childhood, but who has the kind of time on December 12? More candy, cookies, and Christmas cards to be made (oh and presents too--that will be a post for another day--after Christmas).

Every now and then I have been home at the "right" time and been able to make hard tack with my Grandma. (100 miles separates myself and most of my family)  2007 was one of those 'right times.' We had a lovely day together and Grandma's candy got made and she didn't have to make it by herself.  We were both tuckered by days end, but...the candy was made with love.

The tools of the day all set out on Grandma's counter.

The recipe sitting on Grandma's counter

The flavors for 2007

My {Grandma} waiting for the candy to cool

The "old fashioned way" of making hard tack. 

Our bowl of candy at the end of the day.

It is one of my favorite memories.

Fast forward one year. 2008

2008 was the first together for Jim and I. The only pictures I have of the candy making process from 2008 are a couple we took of the candy in the bowl.  We thought they would make a great puzzle! There are memories though! This was the first year Jim had seen hard tack made. It can be a chore but it is definitely more fun with two. {heart}

Fast forward another year...2009. No pictures of candy making. You see, we were a little busy with a project of a different sort. These pictures were taken December, 7 2009.

YEP YEP YEP!!!!! That is was our kitchen. I was only moderately flipping out because we had a house warming/Christmas party scheduled for, oh say, December 12. (5 DAYS!!!!!!!!) There are memories here too. Plenty of them really. I honestly don't remember much about cookies and candy for this year. I am guessing there had to have been at least a little sugary goodness coming out of that kitchen (ok not the one you see above, but....) because my, which is now our, gift every year to most of my family is lots of sugary goodness made with the love. I vaguely remember making peanut butter blossoms, but who knows. No pictures to prove it. I am sure I didn't go home empty handed though. I am happy to report that the kitchen did NOT look like this for the Christmas party.  The floor was not completed, but it was part way done and the place was as ready as it was going to be for company. (perhaps the story of this party should be a post for another day.) Just in case you haven't been here before and seen the pictures of what the kitchen looks like today, here is a glimpse at what it looked like in December 2009.

Fast forward another year. 2010. What a difference a year makes!
(part of) The sugary goodness ingredients all lined up...

The 2010 bowl of candy with powdered sugar added.

We gifted the candy in empty frap bottles. There may or may not be quite the collection of these bottles taking place in the canning cellar. We added some fabric and ribbon before gifting.

2010 was the last year for the "old fashioned way" of candy making. Jim was certain there was an easier way to make the candy. We would be on the search for molds for 2011.

2011. It sounds as though I will be gifting some of this year's candy to my Grandma. She has been sick since Thanksgiving and she told me the other day she hasn't made any candy. Don't worry Grandma, we made plenty!!!!!!!!!! and quite possibly the most I have ever made.

...we found molds made for hard tack...

 The 2011 fruit flavors

The 2011 'spice' flavors

 Production getting ready to take place. Jim was the one that decided it was candy time. I was letting him go and he was going to be in charge of however much of it he wanted to be....right after I butted in and moved things around for a picture or two... the same recipe from 2007 on our counter. As I sit here and type I realize I have had this recipe for awhile. It was most likely gotten from my Mom or my Grandma my senior year of college. That is when I had recipe cards like that. That also means this recipe is a traveled recipe and went to South Carolina with me for the couple years I lived there. I am most certain there aren't any pictures of the recipe out on the South Carolina counter, but that would have been cool. Anywho, pictures taken and out of Jim's way....

I like the bubbly stage. I need to get out of the way though before it comes up to temperature. As I was taking these pictures he asked if I was going to be blogging about candy making.  {heart}

The candy in one of the molds.  I called my Grandma the day we started making candy. We weren't together but it was something we could talk about so I called her up. I told her we bought molds this year and she says to me "I've never used those. I've always just done it my old fashioned way." I felt a little sad that we weren't doing it "the old fashioned way", but when I look at how many flavors we made and how nice the little candy gems look, I moved on. There is definitely something different about the molds compared to doing the whole process by hand.  Either way, still handmade and still made from the heart!!!!

The 2011 bowl of candy gems!

The 2011 flavor list. The list is something we started last year. I apologize for the picture quality but it was taken with my phone.

This years candy will be gifted in jars and the jars will be made festive. I am sure I will post about that once it happens.  One more picture before I go. A picture of my Grandma and I in 2007. Not the day we made candy, but I believe this was the day we had Christmas dinner at my Dad's.  This is one of my favorite pictures.

Hugs and kisses to my Mom, My Grandma and Jim for the candy making memories. 

Thanks so much for stopping by. How is your holiday prep coming? Are you ready or do you feel like you are behind?
I am partying in here:


  1. I have never made this type of candy but I think I want to... do you buy the flavor at the grocery store or someplace else?

  2. What a great story teller you are, couldn't take my eyes off until the end. I have wonderful memories of my grandmother and I making her famous sugar cookies...the best in the world! I sure do miss her. I love all your photos and your kitchen is beautiful...

  3. I have never made this type of candy before. What a great story of your family memories around making the candy. Family memories of holiday time are the best. Love you picture of it. Thanks for joining in on Sunday's Best and sharing your candies and memories with us.

  4. Looks cool! Great post! It makes me think of rock candy. :)



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