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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My friend "Elaine" has a nephew who visits her often, but every time he and his wife stay overnight, she catches them going through her dresser drawers and desk.

Elaine has always been good to them, and even loaned them her car and travel trailer for their vacation. I am incensed that they nose around in her private belongings, and she's none too happy about it either. She's always happy to see them go.

Abby, what should Elaine say to them when they want to visit again? How would you handle this? -- CURIOUS

DEAR CURIOUS: If Elaine feels obligated to entertain these nosy individuals, the least she can do to protect herself is to lock her desk and bedroom door while they are visiting.

Had I caught guests going through my personal belongings, I would have asked them to stop immediately, and guided them to another location in the house. It wouldn't happen a second time, because the next time they wanted to visit, I would tell them, "Sorry, it's not convenient at this time." And I would repeat it every time they had the nerve to ask.

DEAR ABBY: About five or six years ago, my Aunt Jolene sent me some homemade penuche fudge for my birthday. It was absolutely delicious.

When I called to thank her, she told me she got the recipe from your cookbooklet. She promised to share it with me, but kept procrastinating. The last time I asked her about it, she said she had lost the cookbooklet when she moved, and hadn't yet ordered another one.

I have a birthday coming up in a couple of months, and I would like to give myself a gift of that fudge.

Abby, would you please give me the recipe? -- HAZEL IN HAMPTON, N.J.

DEAR HAZEL: I'd be delighted. Alhough chocolate is my preference, the penuche fudge is wonderful for people who are allergic to chocolate. It is in my second recipe collection, "More Favorite Recipes," and very easy to make.

ABBY'S FAMOUS PENUCHE FUDGE

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup light cream

1/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup walnut pieces

Butter a 9-inch square baking dish. Butter the sides of a heavy 2-quart saucepan.

Combine sugars, cream, milk and butter in saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugars dissolve and mixture comes to a boil. Cook to soft ball stage (238 degrees on candy thermometer), stirring only if necessary. Immediately remove from heat and cool to lukewarm (110 degrees). DO NOT STIR.

Add vanilla and beat vigorously until very thick and mixture starts to lose its gloss. Quickly stir in nuts and spread into prepared baking dish. Score while warm, and cut when firm.

Makes 3 dozen 1 1/2-inch squares. (P.S. You'll diet next week!)

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600