Musings: Kitty Cleveland, Russians, and Christmas Fudge



By Charlie Johnston

Our friend, Kitty Cleveland, has a new CD out, “Hail, Holy Queen,” devoted to Our Lady. I saw this message go up on her Facebook Page yesterday:

“I need your help! Billboard Magazine just called for an interview about the new “Hail, Holy Queen” CD–they think I’m going to chart, but only if CD sales keep coming through my website. Please spread the word. Thanks, friends! Keep it comin’! 😃

Kitty has been my favorite Christian singer for about four years. Actually, she is my favorite living singer, period. A couple of years ago, I discovered that she was a fan of this website, commenting occasionally as Christiaria. It is so delightful to find that someone you are a big fan of is also a fan of yours. She and her sisters, Beth and Carolyn, have


kitty and me

Kitty Cleveland and I leading a crowd in the Song of Thanksgiving.


become key contacts for me in the New Orleans area.

I went to Sunday Mass with them last year. Kitty is the singer at her Parish once a month. She asked me to come up to the balcony with her that Sunday and “help her out” by singing backup to her. I do okay harmonizing a little on the fly, so up I went. I was absolutely tickled – and was quietly boasting to people that I had sang backup to Kitty Cleveland. At a reception on that visit, I chuckled when I overheard Kitty telling someone enthusiastically that “Charlie Johnston sang backup to me!” Delightful when everyone comes out happy.

Would it not be absolutely fantastic if Billboard Magazine had a CD entirely devoted to Our Lady listed on its charts? I ordered mine this morning. If you’ve got a little extra in the Christmas fund, why not order one for yourself or a friend? They make great stocking stuffers! Let’s make Our Lady number one on the Billboard Charts! (And you will love Kitty’s clear, rich voice.)


The first “fake news” appeared in America before the founding of the American Republic. Pamphleteers put out terribly polemical stuff to support their cause and harpoon their opponents. This is the way of the world. That is why learning to think critically, to ask questions, and to check facts is so important. When dealing with children, it is important to distinguish between fantasy and reality – to teach them how to question things for plausibility. When we are adults, we are expected to exercise that rational skepticism for ourselves.

No doubt many of the founders were frustrated by the fake news put out by their opponents in polemical pamphlets. They combatted this by arguing the point and showing evidence for their case. One thing that often helped was having a few stable sources of news that carefully guarded a reputation for reliability. Sadly, the worst cases of fake news in modern times come from the establishment media. It has chosen to be a reckless partisan in affairs, rather than a responsible chronicler of them

The founders, like all Americans since, have been bedeviled by fake news throughout our history. They fought it with better arguments and evidence. One thing that no American patriot on any side in our history ever would have approved of is letting government decide what is and is not “fake news.” If the establishment media really wants to make things better, it could improve its standards and quit trying to be both umpire and player at the same time. Meantime, the rest of us should act like the adults we are rather than naieve little snowflakes who need to be protected from ourselves by Big Brother.


Potential Russian hacking of American secrets and Russian “hacking of the election” are two entirely different things. No serious person is suggesting the Russians hacked our election machinery. Rather, they are suggesting that Russia used information it had hacked from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and various officials to influence how people would choose to vote.

Foreign governments try to influence the internal politics of both rival and allied nations all the time, using whatever means at their disposal. The first big blow-up in US history on the matter came with the XYZ Affair early in the administration of John Adams. The Obama administration tried heavily handed to influence England citizens to vote against Brexit earlier this year. The same administration sent political operatives to Israel a few years back in a concerted effort to defeat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Such efforts usually trigger a nationalist backlash in the target country, but they are standard operating procedure in every nation on the globe.

For 18 months, Republicans have been warning that the nation’s secrets are at risk from cyber-warfare, particularly from China and Russia. That is largely what the concern over Hillary Clinton’s illegal homebrew server was about. The Obama administration was remarkably sanguine about the whole business – so long as it was just Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Syria, the South China Sea and legitimate American interests that were compromised. The establishment media agreed there was nothing much to see there. But as soon as progressive interests and Democrat fortunes are threatened, the left and the media are ready to go on war footing. No one is arguing that what either Russia or Julian Assange released constituted misinformation: it is conceded that the WikiLeaks materials gave an authentic glimpse into the ugly behind-the-scenes attitudes and actions of top progressive officials. National Review’s Deroy Murdock hilariously covers the substance of the purported Russian hack. But neither the anti-God progressives nor the establishment media have any principles at all any more except winning and imposing their will on lesser mortals.

National cybersecurity has always been important – even when it only involves the fate of nations and US national interests rather than the fortunes of the Democratic Party. As the public is not likely to be as aroused by the fact that it was the DNC and its officials actual emails that were released as they are by the idea of Russia interfering with America’s election machinery, the utterly corrupt media misleadingly spouts headlines that the “election” was hacked – when no such thing happened or is alleged. But this is the sort of fake news that props up the progressive media narrative, even as it will eat further away at its crumbling credibility.

Here’s an idea: let’s be serious about cyber-security, about protecting national secrets at all times – and leave the marketplace of ideas to sort out how people respond to attempts at meddling.


And now, my mother’s recipe for Christmas Fudge. This is real fudge – no marshmallows to stabilize it – so it is much trickier and requires a certain precision in timing. Leave it on the stove a minute too little and it will come out sticky and gloppy; a minute too long and


My Mom when she was 32 and I was 16

it will come out soupy and grainy. You don’t have to stir constantly, but almost. Use a wooden spoon only and always use a candy thermometer. I have rarely known anyone who routinely got this right the first few times…there is a certain feel to it. So don’t feel bad if your first batch does not come off right. Fortunately, kids always like the flavor, even when you mess the batch up. I think I have finally gotten the hang of it pretty well, as my last five consecutive batches have been perfect. It’s tricky enough that I would not be the least surprised to see my next batch botched, though. So here goes:


Tootie Johnston’s Christmas Fudge

You will need:

Wooden Stirring Spoon

Candy Thermometer

Large Saucepan

Medium Cookie Sheet or Cake Pan


4 cups sugar

12-oz can of condensed milk

1/3 cup clear Karo Syrup

8-oz Baker’s unsweetened chocolate

heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt

Spray the saucepan and the cookie sheet with Pam No-stick spray (either plain or butter flavor). Put all the above ingredients in saucepan and put on medium heat, stirring constantly. Put the candy thermometer on the side of the pan, making sure the bulb is submerged in the heated liquid. As it melts down, it will become a bubbling dark brown liquid. Watch the candy thermometer. You may occasionally stop stirring and lightly increase the heat to get the temperature up a little. Don’t stop too long, though, or some of the mixture may scorch. As soon as the temperature reaches the soft-ball stage, take the pan off the heat. (I usually double-check this after I have got it off the heat by dripping a little from the spoon into a clear glass of cold water. If it is right, the drip will form a soft ball – like dropping candle wax into a glass of water. If not, it will start to dissolve.) Have the following ingredients ready to add to the pan immediately:

2 1/2 tsp vanilla flavor

1 stick (8 oz) butter

The vanilla will bubble up like it is boiling before it settles in. Stir at least 175 times. When you have finished, the butter will be completely dissolved into the mix. At this point, you may stir in 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts, then stir at least another 50 times. An addition I made is, after stirring in the pecans, to add a cup of raisins – and then stir another 50 times. Particularly after adding the nuts, and then the raisins, you will feel the mixture stiffening, getting harder to stir. For best results, stir a total of 300 times. This brings air into the mix and ultimately makes it very creamy. Finally pour it into the cookie sheet or cake pan and let it set fully.

Don’t worry about what is left in the pan. Both you and the kids will enjoy scraping and licking the pan. Also, what is in the pan will set much quicker than what you have poured into the cookie sheet – and by spooning out some of the pan you will know within about 15 minutes whether you have produced a solid batch or not.




About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
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510 Responses to Musings: Kitty Cleveland, Russians, and Christmas Fudge

  1. Ed Allison says:

    While we’re sharing recipes…. here’s the best pumpkin cheesecake you ever had!
    Here’s the recipe:
    1 cup crushed gingersnaps (about 19 cookies)
    1 cup pecan pieces
    1.5 cups plus 2 TBsp sugar
    5 TBsp melted butter
    four 8 oz packages of cream cheese
    3 large eggs beaten
    15 oz can solid pack pumpkin
    1 TBsp vanilla extract
    2 tsp ground ginger
    1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
    Preheat the oven to 350 deg. Lightly coat a 10 inch springform pan with a nonstick cooking spray. Then tightly wrap the bottom of the bottom of the pan with heavy duty aluminum foil thoroughly covering the seam making the pan waterproof. In a food processor, grind the gingersnaps, pecans and 2 TBsp sugar; pulse until crumbly; add the melted butter and pulse until mixed well. Press crumb mixture into bottom and 1 inch up the side of the pan. Bake for 15 min. Bring remaining ingredients to room temperature. Start a large pot of boiling water.
    In a bowl, beat the cream cheese and remaining 1.5 cups of sugar with electric mixer on slow speed until smooth; gradually add eggs; add remaining ingredients; scrape the bowl; mix well. Pour batter into pan and smooth.
    Carefully place the springform pan into a large roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to reach 1.5 inches up the side of the pan. Bake 1 hr 20 min until top is slightly puffed but still jiggly in the middle. Remove from the oven, and carefully remove the pan from the water bath. Remove foil. If you did a good job tightly wrapping the pan, there should be no water between the pan and the foil. Place pan on a wire rack allow the cheesecake to cool completely in the pan. When cool it will pull away slightly from the sides. Chill at least 4 hrs, or overnight before serving.

    Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 7 people

    • charliej373 says:

      Now that sounds great!

      Liked by 4 people

    • SteveBC says:

      Ed Allison, I’m afraid I’m not much for pumpkin cheesecake. However, I would like to contribute to our growing list of fantastic recipes my recipe for the best hot fudge sauce you will ever eat. And it is easy to prepare. Click on the link below to go to the file at, where you can download it using the “Download” button in the upper right corner of the page. Wait a bit as it loads – it will open one page and then another page where the recipe will actually be.

      It lasts many weeks at room temperature, so it will prove a yuuuge success as a barter item during the Collapse, if you can bear to part with it. 😀

      Liked by 5 people

    • Mick says:

      “Like!” 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    • zeniazenia says:

      Thank you for the awesome recipe, Ed. Our family stops eating pumpkin after Thanksgiving leftovers. I will make this next year though, since I haven’t made a pumpkin cheesecake yet for Thanksgiving and I know for sure I can get gluten free gingersnaps.
      If I come across a ‘to die for recipe’ that I can share with y’all I will do that, but now that every recipe I make needs to be gluten free, I’m mostly ‘winging it’ for recipes and menus — you know, like iron chef and chopped. 🙂 Fun! God bless you Ed.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. CrewDog says:

    Could the below be more over-heated Fake News from the VastRightWing Conspiracy or is there more than a kernel or two of Thought-Food here? Obammy was/is a very questionable character among an Administration filled with Questionables. The Questionables of BosWash/CA & GOP Elites are very afraid of Loose Cannon Donald and the forces of Light-n-Investigation that he may unleash on the skeleton filled closets, basements and attics of America. A good a reason as any for the Evil Rich-n-Powerful to pull out all the stops to stop Trump .. including Scorched Earth and/or Wag the Dog Tactics! 😦

    “The CIA’s Dirty Tricks Against American Democracy”


    Liked by 3 people

  3. Lisa H. says:

    Thank you for the fudge recipe Charlie! I had hoped to try it this past weekend by life intervened. My grandmother used to make us a wonderful fudge and now my mother carries on the tradition. It is quite tricky but she seems to get it right almost every time. I’ve made it myself but only achieve good results some of the time. With her recipe you aren’t suppose to stir it at all. I was hoping yours would be easier but I will give it a try anyway – hopefully this week when I’m making my Christmas cookies.

    God bless you and your family with a very Merry Christmas and the strength and guidance needed to endure the storm in the coming year!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. SanSan says:

    Russian Ambassador assassenated……..also, no “blood miracle” in Italy……2017 looks ominous

    Liked by 1 person

  5. BD says:

    OT. Trump just received 304 electoral votes. Wow

    Liked by 1 person

  6. JB says:

    Charlie. Are you still holding strong that trump will not be inaugurated.


  7. prayingflower says:

    I checked in tonight as I do from time to time when I have time and also because I saw Kitty Cleveland’s name (ordered 2 cd’s). AND I am glad I did. As my husband and I are no longer blessed with family for the holidays I very much appreciate the still-present close family feel here at TNRS. It warms the heart. Merry Christmas to you all, and continued prayers during the coming year. It is good to know we have each others’ backs going forward, isn’t it? Highest regards to you, Charlie, and thank you once again for all your guidance during these troubled times. You make a difference.
    Much love in Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
    Praying Flower

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Charles Gilbert says:

    A question about your mom’s fudge recipe…Out our way a stick of butter weighs 4 oz. So, I’m conflicted – should I use one stick or should I use 8 oz?


    • charliej373 says:

      Just use a stick. Sorry, I had to translate that from my way of throwing the ingredients together without measuring anything – but I though saying a “dollop” of this and a “little” of that would only frustrate you.

      Liked by 1 person

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