A few days later, with the ingredients laid out before me and Mom hovering watchfully nearby, I haltingly read the recipe aloud, stopping short after the line "Cook to 236 degrees. Pour out onto a slab". I wasn't sure what a "slab" was; I turned to my mother. Smiling, she walked into the living room and removed the television from the small wooden table it rested on. The tabletop was a dust-covered tablet of brown marble I'd never noticed before. Mom removed the slab, lugged it into the kitchen, washed it with soapy water, and declared it fit for use. She walked me through the rest of the recipe, watching as I poured hot sugar syrup onto the marble, working it into long, milky-white ribbons of fondant as it cooled, kneading it like bread dough to blend in green food coloring and peppermint oil, and then forming the candy into disks, which I dipped in melted chocolate. When all was finished, I tasted the results. The peppermint patties were plenty sweet, but the chocolate covering had never quite set and the flavors never quite melded. Those flaws didn't prevent my mother from proudly taking the candies to work with her the next morning.