When I saw today was Peanut Butter Fudge Day, I didn’t think much about it. I know fudge. I make it often enough that I am confident in my fudge making skills. Sure, I usually make a straight up chocolate fudge, but peanut butter fudge is pretty much the same recipe – just add in peanut butter instead of chocolate. So I knew I’d be making this today and it didn’t stress me out. I just postponed my fudge making until later in the day.
I’m glad I was able to push it off to later in the day because I was busy in the morning. I was up and at them today to run in the Newport Santa Hustle 5K Run. It’s basically your typical 5K, but everyone is dressed in Santa hats and other Santa type gear. Sounded pretty festive. I signed up for it after I did the Bridge Run in October because I felt I needed to have another run commitment on the horizon to keep me running. That worked. I’ve been going out for jogs every other day or so to get ready for the Hustle. I was ready. Sort of.
Our alarm went off at 6 today so we could get there on time. Lola has been trooper about this whole thing too. Not only is she my biggest cheerleader, but she is willing to get up at 6 am and drive me to the starting line and wait for me to stumble across the finish. She couldn’t be more supportive and proud of me, which is actually a great way to head into a race. It gives you that extra boost of love and confidence to get you going. When we got to the starting line (which was at Easton’s Beach or First Beach as the locals call it), it was cold. Really cold. The wind was whooping and a whomping and it would send a shiver up your shorts (not in a good way). It had rained overnight and there was still stormy weather in the air. I walked around trying to stay loose and all my fellow Santa Hustlers were doing the same. When they finally corralled us up for the start of the race, everyone was still bouncing up and down in place and you could feel the energy for wanting it to start. Christmas music was playing for the crowd to help get in the spirit and the sun that was starting to peek through the clouds was glimmering on the shining sea which was just a hundred yards to our left. Miss Rhode Island stepped up to the microphone (is she obligated to wear her sash at all times?) and with a few words of excitement, she gave us the go to start running. Off we went.
I can’t say I’m a fan of running in packs. I prefer to go at a speed of my choosing and not be blocked by people walking or going at a slower pace. That’s how it feels at the start, so my first feeling was frustration. Then I caught a glimpse of Lola who was on the side in the parking lot cheering me on. She was wrapped up in her winter NorthFace coat and had a big winter hat on, but I could see her looking for me and snapping pictures. I waved, but she couldn’t see me (remember everyone was wearing a very similar outfit). In any case, I knew she was cheering me on and that helped my feelings of frustration dissipate. And soon enough I was able to find a spot where I could run at my own pace (which is slow, but not that slow). We ran up Memorial (which is a steep incline if you have never noticed) and then turned left onto Annandale down to Salve Regina. Then we turned around and ran back.
Because it was a Santa Hustle, there were a few stops along the way where you could stop for candy and cookies (water too). I opted against stopping mostly because the thought of eating a cookie at that moment didn’t seem like a good idea. The sun had come out for most of the race and once we got moving, you warmed up in no time. There were people along the course cheering us on and one little girl was even looking for high fives from everyone. That was a good feeling. Plus Newport’s finest were at every street corner making sure we were safe. And they did. I hope they got some cookies too. There was one point at about the 2.5 mile mark where I was going to stop and walk for a bit, but I pushed through. I gave myself little goals – just make it to the next corner, just make it to Memorial, etc. That seemed to keep me going and although I was slow, I can say I really ran the whole thing. The finish comes back down Memorial towards First Beach. The sun was out now and while you are excited by the finish line being in view, you are also wowed and humbled by the whole scene. The beautiful beaches, St. George’s in the background, rolling waves on the sea, and a small crowd cheering you on. It was a moment.
Coming towards the finish line I was kind of by myself. I was far enough behind and ahead of the people around me that I had a whole stretch of the course to myself, or so it seemed. I saw Lola. She was waiting along with our friend Margaret and her son Ryan. Ryan had already finished the race (in good time I might add!) and was waiting with his mom for his brother John and father Nick to cross the finish line too. When I saw them I waved and I could see Lola waving back with enthusiasm. I ran past them with a smile (or as much as I could muster) and then crossed the finish line. That’s where I picked up my major award for running (a medallion) along with a bottle of water and then searched for Lola. She hugged me immediately and told me how proud she was. She was excited for me and it warmed me up. I did it!
When we got home, we chilled for a while and, as you know, settled back in to our Monopoly game. That turned into watching football. When 4 o’clock came around, I realized that I still had to make the fudge which as any fudge maker will tell you, takes a little time to set. I made a mad dash to Clement’s to pick up what I needed (mostly Fluff, chocolate and peanut butter – best shopping list ever). When I got home, I went to town using recipes from the kind folks at Fluff. Fudge really doesn’t take too long, it just needs your undivided attention for the last seven or eight minutes of cooking. You melt the butter and add it to the evaporated milk, sugar, pinch of salt and the Fluff and boil it for five minutes. Then you add in the flavoring which was peanut butter in this case.
When thinking about Peanut Butter Fudge I felt like it needed chocolate too. Lola kind of felt the same way. So, I made a small batch of chocolate fudge too. I poured the chocolate fudge out into the bottom of a pan and then poured the layer of peanut butter fudge on top of that. My hope was to create a two layered piece of fudge which combined the chocolate and the peanut butter tastes.
It didn’t come out exactly as planned. My problem was that they never fused together. I made the chocolate fudge first and by the time the peanut butter fudge was ready, the chocolate had set up just enough so they never became one. At least that’s what I felt happened when I cut into the fudge at night, which may have been a little too soon (that’s where my postponement of making the fudge comes into play). When I cut in, the peanut butter fudge jumped off the top of the chocolate so I essential had a chocolate piece and a peanut butter piece (which is not the worse problem to have). The chocolate still needed time to set and was a little soft, but good as always. The peanut butter set much faster and was pretty well hardened to be enjoyed. It was actually really good as is. You get a real sweet peanut butter flavor but in the form of fudge. It surprised me and made me rethink my whole “it needs chocolate” thinking. You couldn’t eat a lot of it at once (nor should you eat a lot of any fudge at once), but it was enjoyable. A surprise hit.
I’m going to check in on the fudge again today (Monday). If it’s not fused together, I’ll just separate the layers and pretend I just made a batch of each. Regardless, I have fudge to bring to Thanksgiving. So it begins. And so ended my day of celebration. I think it’s fitting that I celebrated the Santa Hustle run with some fresh fudge. Santa would approve of that, especially because it sends us running into the holiday season. Let’s just hope we keep on running and that we can stop at the cookie and candy stations along the way. Cheers!
Next Up: National Stuffing Day