Kimberly Wageman-Prack didn’t have to look far for someone to teach the Victorian candy making class at historic Nash Farm on Saturday.
The staffer had all the skills and family background necessary to lead the Valentine’s-inspired class.
For $35, a four-hour workshop gave participants a firsthand look at what candy making was like in the 1800s.
“Instead of Christmas cookies, my family has always made Christmas candy,” Wageman-Prack said. “Candy is more interesting.”
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The instructor made some of her goodies on an 1892 stove inside an 1869 house, which has undergone several renovations, and has been brought back to its original look, right down to the green paint that covers the building — a luxury for its time — and the yellow eaves for good luck.
The house is on city-owned Nash Farm, which is located on 5.2 acres several blocks from Historic Downtown Grapevine. There, visitors get a glimpse of what life was like on the farm more than a century ago. A big part of the Nash Farm experience is education.
The hands-on workshop gave participants the opportunity to learn how to make old fashioned candies such as barley sugar drops, nut brittle, cream drops and other popular treats.
“I used old recipes,” said the history-lover, who makes her own “underpinnings,” including corsets.
Wageman-Prack began the class by giving instruction on “calibrating your candy thermometer.”
“Candy making is a science project every time,” the instructor said of the intricacies of the art. “Candy is very particular.”
Wageman-Prack only used ingredients that were popular then, including cane sugar , molasses and cream. She said cooking is a long-standing family tradition.
But not every memory is a fond one.
She recalled how her grandmother made butter and that the cream came from cows that got into the wild onions, leaving a strange taste.
“Nobody wanted to eat the wild onion butter,” Wageman-Prack said. “It tasted funny. I liked store bought margarine.”
Among the participants were James McHugh and wife, Casey, who met through the personals and married on April 24, 2007. They have three sons, Dylan, C.J. and Deklin.
A former Marine who works for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, McHugh surprised his wife with the candy making workshop as part of a celebratory treat for her Feb. 7 birthday, which began with a weekend at the Gaylord Texan Resort.
“I didn’t know we were doing this until we walked through the front door,” she said of the candy class. “He’s always this romantic.”
Although he often surprises his wife with romantic gestures such as dinner outings, McHugh said his wife is their main meal creator.
“She cooks better, so I let her cook,” the Fort Worth man said with a laugh.