Her name was Hilda. Slight of figure. Beautiful dark brown hair. Sparkling personality. A farm wife with four active children. And could she and her Mr. Wonderful ever dance the polka!
We lived as neighbors on the wind-blown prairie—her family and others of primarily German heritage.
However, Dear Readers, it was a women’s organization known as the Menoken Homemakers Club that knit us closely together.
These home managers of the farm celebrated womanhood with their banded-together “Welcome Wagon” hospitality and multiple talents. Cohesive female companionship kindled as homemakers carved a living partnership with their “I do” mates as well as with the farmland soil.
The Sweetest Time of Year
Dear Readers, dates on the calendar frigidly remind Miss NiNi of the homemaking group. One could annually set a clock by the sweet aromas wafting throughout rural kitchens this time of year.
It was candy-making time—a time when women’s culinary talents would be on display. Once a year, candy thermometers came out of hiding in preparation of sweet-treat-making skills. The annual Menoken Homemakers Christmas Candy Exchange was at hand!
I focus my baking chat on home manager, Dear Hilda, for this simple reason. In consideration of offering homemade candies at Miss NiNi’s Desserterie, I recently discovered her Almond Roca recipe among Mom’s “keepers.” Surely, this had to be a Hilda contribution to the grand array of festively plated candy-exchange beauty!
A Nod of Approval
In Mom’s cursive hand with the note, “Very good” etched in the top corner of the yellowed recipe card, Miss NiNi offers this seasonal gift on behalf of Hilda and all of the beautiful women of the Menoken, ND, community who satisfied sweet taste buds of men, women, and children in our farming community.
Dear Readers, the recipe I share with you is copied exactly as Mom recorded it from Hilda in the early 1960s. See if you discover a recipe’s element that was applicable for that era in time.
Just in case these ingredients find their way into your homemade-candy-making-holiday heart, I trust that you will use culinary thinking caps to update the time-tossed measurement. Enjoy!
- 3 c. sugar
- 1 c. white syrup
- ½ c. water
- 2 c. slivered almonds
- 1 lb. butter
- 8, 5-cent Hershey bars
Mix sugar, syrup and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add butter and almonds. Boil slowly to 300 degrees on candy thermometer. Pour mixture into 2 buttered 9 x 13 pans. Cool slightly. Lay on chocolate bars. When soft, spread. Cool completely and break into pieces. Yields 2 lbs.