12/19/08

Hard Tack


The fellowship hall smelled like basement with 'church' mixed in; 'church' in this situation being lingering decades of pot luck suppers and the lemony-amonia smell from the floors being mopped.

The particular fellowship hall I'm thinking of belongs to the church I grew up in, a United Methodist church at the top of a hill in a small town in Ohio.

I remember being in the kitchen of the large hall at Christmas watching the candy making. My mom and other women from the church would stand at the stoves stirring large pots of boiling syrupy goo that would be spread on baking sheets, cooled, and cracked into hard tack candy. They had thermometers to test the temperature, flavorings to add, and coloring to make the candy look, when finished, like small, edible shards from the stained glass windows upstairs in the quiet sanctuary.

I remember being shooed away from the boiling pots, and later, helping dip the brightly colored pieces of hard tack in powdered sugar and bagging them up.

In my opinion they always made far too much cinnamon and spearmint. My favorites were the butterscotch and the watermelon.

Still every once in a while, when I see sunlight trying to push its way through colorful stained glass, I remember the hard tack candy, the bustle of the church ladies, and the smell of our fellowship hall.

Isn't it a wonder how a small and seemingly insignificant moment can nestle in your heart as a Christmas treasure made of innocence and love and sugar?

Many thanks to Tracy at Unless the Lord for allowing me to use her lovely photo of hard tack candy that she made. If you visit her blog you will find the recipe here.

17 comments:

Michelle Smiles said...

I always loved that stuff! Anise was my favorite.

Burgh Baby said...

I love making glass candy, but I'm not a big fan of eating it. I need volunteers to take it all so I can cook a ton.

Why did I not notice you're in Nashville until just now? I'm such a goober. Anyway, I have a set of in-laws near you. If we ever visit them again, we'll have to try to hook up!

Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

Burgh -- Yes! We'll have lunch or drinks or something next time you're here!

Amanda of Shamelessly Sassy said...

oh, yummy. My mother-in-law's house smells like church.

Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

Amanda: You kill me - that is too funny! (Way to ruin my religious memories!)

anglophilefootballfanatic.com said...

Isn't Amanda a nut? Silly gal. I think that is a wonderful memory, and considering how much stained glass we use? I bet you remember it often.

Rima said...

I remember those candies! They remind me of my childhood babysitter. Her family always made them at Christmas and brought them over in little bags tied with ribbons. But I always loved cinnamon!

Memarie Lane said...

My church did a lot of stuff like that too, but they didn't let us kids have much. The adults would walk around with plateloads of cookies and admonish any child they saw taking more than one.

Loralee Choate said...

Mormons just make Jello, dammit.

Now I feel totally screwed.

Geri said...

Glass candy is truly the best, and it is true Mormon's just make jello.

JCK said...

Such lovely memories. I would have gone for the butterscotch and watermelon, too!

Licha said...

I'm Catholic. And Mexican. Which means that the church smells I remember are mass incense and tamales :)

maitlandmommy said...

wow - i remember my dad and the other deacons in the church making the Christmas eve goodie bags for after the Christmas play - and in that bag was hard tack candy made by the prayer group and apples or oranges, one piece of chocolate and the bible verse for the year. Wow - i haven't thought about any of that in i don't know how long. and now i'm all teary-eyed. Thanks a lot witch. Just kidding - i love the memories and feelings you stir up. Hugs Sheri.

Vodka Mom said...

that was a lovely post. AND it made me hungry.

Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

Memarie Lane - wow, that's a sucky church memory.

Licha - I'm now Catholic and I love the smell of incense!! I have newer memories of that smell.

Nap Warden said...

I don't think I've ever had glass candy! How can this be???

cheggarty said...

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