Saturday, December 26, 2009


Well it’s been a low-key Christmas this year, which is okay. A lot of work and money went into house upgrades. But for the past couple weeks I’ve been enduring one of those childhood cravings. No matter how much I tried to ignore it, it seemed to haunt me at every turn. Being the Christmas season, you might think it would be Christmas cookies - and that would be a reasonable guess. I’ve been known to be reduced to a drooling idiot over a good frosted sugar cookie. But no, it’s been three little elves that have been taunting me. With their crispy, ricey, marshmallow... ey... goodness.

I know what you’re thinking. You can buy them anywhere now. Neatly prepackaged, ready to go, no muss, no fuss. But they aren’t as good as home made. And I think that the packaged ones have
an odd taste. So I made my way to the grocery store this morning in the hunt for all the fixins.

For those of you who know me, you know that I can’t follow a recipe to save my soul. I view them as general guidelines. Besides, how the hell would Betty Crocker know how I like my cakes? This has ended in many disappointing baking failures, and a few pleasant surprises. So, I varied a little, but not too much. I couldn’t decide between Cocoa Rice Crispies and regular. So I grabbed a box of both. Off to the marshmallow aisle. Yes - I choose to believe that there is an entire aisle dedicated to them. Being just after Christmas, the pickings were slim. I found a couple left over bags that somehow managed to escaped a yam filled doom. But... there were a couple bags of French Vanilla Marshmallows. Ohh-la-la! How decadent! Okay - the truth is they taste like a regular friggin’ marshmallow. But it was fun to imagine. Plus, they were in the shape of little snowmen. I couldn’t care less, but it meant they were part of the “We Gotta Get Rid of All This Christmas Crap Sale” so they were half off. Sold.

I got everything home, and after putting all the other groceries away, and watching the “Inside the Tardis” special (yes, I love the new Dr. Who), I decided to tackle the Rice Crispies Treats.

Since I couldn’t decide between the cocoa and regular and bought both, I bought double the marshmallows needed too. You know. Just in case there might be a marshmallow emergency in the near future (it could happen). Well, I thought that I would just save some time and double the batch. That would be easier. (Let’s call this mistake number one.)

As the butter was melting, and I dumped in two bags of vanilla snowmen (I made little screaming noises as I callously dumped them into the sizzling butter). Then I went to grab the biggest bowl I could find. Then I grabbed another, slightly smaller bowl to measure out the cereal. Six cups. Nope. Double it. Okay. Twelve cups of Rice Crispies. good thing I bought the two boxes. Was that eight cups I measured out or ten? I think it was eight. (Mistake number two.) Wow. this bowl won’t quite hold 12 cups. (Let’s say it might be 14 cups - but what does it matter?)

Now, I hadn’t totally forgotten the marshmallows - they were melting down nicely. But soon the little buggars were making more noise than they should. So I started stiring them vigorously. You know, this might be really good if I add just a touch of orange flavoring. Vanilla, lemon, maple. No orange. Oh well. Note for next time. Crap. I’ve burnt them on the bottom (number 3). No problem. I think I can salvage most of it. And the cocoa flavor might cover any of the charred bits.

I quickly grabbed another stock pot and tried to dump it from the burning pot into the new one. That sounds so simple. Has anyone ever measured the flow rate of melted marshmallows? I’m guessing not. By the time it happened, they surely would have gotten bored and thrown it all in the sink and gone back to watch more Dr. Who. I concluded that it doesn’t have one. As it “poured” it began to cool. To the point that it just stopped moving completely. I could have set the pot down and had an incredible piece of objet d’art with a spoon of marshmallow trailed about 9 inches above the pot suspended there in fluffy confection. It would be all the rage in New York art world. I finally got most of it scrapped into the new pot - with the exception of the quickly browning bottom bits.

Okay - as the new pan heated a little bit, I look at the box and see that it says a 9x12 cake pan. Got it. Next to the heaping bowl of cereal, I realize that there’s no way it’s going to all fit in this pan. Oh yeah. I doubled it. Fortunately I have a larger cake dish. I think it’s 10 feet by 6 feet. Okay. Not really. But it’s bigger, thank god. Swap those out quickly. Back to the marshmallow goo. After a quick spritz of Butter Flavored Pam, it’s time to dump in the cereal. I thought about mixing a little in at a time. But something in my head says that's not a good idea. So I dump it all in. All ten cups. Yes, ten cups. No, not the 12/14 cups I measured out. The last three or four cups are not going to fit into the pan. Crap. S
o I’m trying to stir this stuff together on the stove with the heat off, but still on the burner - thinking the residual heat would keep it pliable. What a mess. There’s cereal everywhere. And three dogs circling my feet. I need to divide this up. So back at the counter I (while still mixing) spoon some of it back into the giant bowl with the extra cereal that didn’t make it into the pan. Great! Well, then I realize it’s starting to stiffen up REALLY quickly. There’s no way I can mix both of these at the same time before it cools AND get them into the giant cake pan. Bill walks through the kitchen and suggests that using a metal spoon might not have been a good idea (number 4), and that I should use the “spoonula.” Thank you Rachel Ray. Get out.

Well the pot was stirred enough, so I dump it into the cake pan. Remember the flow rate of marshmallow goo? Well it’s even slower when it’s cooling with Rice Crispies. “Thump.” I begin to smooth it out with the spoonula while stiring the giant bowl of leftovers. Damn. This is a lot of cereal. Finally, the bowl is mixed good enough. It’s starting to look like a giant Rice Crispie cheese ball - the outer coating looks pretty dry. Who cares. I start beating it into
submission with my faithful spoonula (I may carry this with me at all times from now on).

Finally. It’s all in the pan. Somewhat smoothed out. Okay, so it looks like the craggy surface of some alien planet. But who cares. I’ve finally got my Rice Crispies Treats - and now I don’t even know if I want them anymore. It’s amazing how many find childhood memories can turn out to be huge pains in the ass as an adult. I'm not sure how my parents survived my childhood. Snap,
Crackle, Pop indeed.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's that time of year...

It's that time of year again when the entire world (it seems) starts to look back on the year and make promises for the coming year. There were a lot of bumps, scrapes, and all out crashes this past year, but somehow I manage to come out of it unscathed (knock on wood). So what will the next year be like?

I'm not one for New Year's Resolutions. In fact, there has been only one that I have ever stuck to. "I will never again make a New Year's Resolution." You've heard the expression, "avoid disappointment, aim low." That seems to have been my mantra lately. But I am starting to feel like it's time to do some thing.

I don't know what that "something" will be yet. Will the Costa Rica vacation finally happen? Will I finally sign up for lessons and learn how to play the guitar? Will I go back to school and complete my degree? Will I finally loose 40 pounds? I don't know yet. But those are all things rattling around in my brain. Who knows. Maybe all of the above. Maybe none. But one thing's for sure... I won't be making a list of promises come New Year's eve.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The End Is Near

Well, it's that time of year again. When everyone begins talking about how they can't believe another year has already gone by. When everyone starts feeling sentimental about friends and family. When everyone swears that Christmas is about spending time with those friends and family but still freaks out when they don't have the right gifts. And I'm no different.

For Thanksgiving, we had a few friends over. And as cliche as it sounds, that's really the thing I love the most. I always rush around in near-panic about company coming over to our home. And in the end, it's my most favorite thing in the world. We don't host a lot of parties or get-togethers. But I can sa
y that what makes me really happy is seeing a group of my friends all together having a good time. Several years ago, we had a group of friends fly in to spend the holiday with us. It was crowded, and loud. We didn't have a dining room table so we threw a few sheets over the ping-pong table and sat down for Thanksgiving dinner. I think that was one of my most favorite days ever.

Now it's time to concentrate on Christmas. Christmas isn't as fun to me as Thanksgiving. It's harder to pull friends together because there is so much going on. It's a little more stressful because I feel like I'm putting up the tree for just the two of us - which I know, should be enough, but I feel like I want to share it with more people. We don't do a lot of gifts. There are too many nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters. So we tend to just concentrate on the youngest ones in the family. Besides, we're at that point in life where there just aren't a lot of things we need that we don't have. And seriously, when friends ask what I want for Christmas, and I say "just a lunch or dinner date" or "cocktail hour" I really mean that.

I haven't even begun to think about shopping. I'm going to try to not put it off until the last minute like I usually do. Actually, it's usually at the last minute that I think, "oh crap. I should have gotten some thing for that person." So, I guess I need to set some goals. First off will be to get my Christmas cards out. Maybe that will be this weekend's project. Still need to get the tree up (I slapped the lit wreath up on the door this evening). Then probably need to get the lights up on the house before the neighbors start giving us a hard time (all in good natured fun). Then find time to relax and enjoy it all.

Wish me luck.