Wednesday, November 14, 2007

No Bake Bars - Almost Like What I Remember



I've been thinking a lot lately about when I started to love cooking. I've written before how I grew up around some amazing cooks; I can still remember pulling a chair over to the counter and asking my grandmother or my Great Aunt Maggie to let me sift the flour, or turn the squash, or stir the grits. (Hello. Yes. I'm Southern, and if that sentence doesn't prove it then I don't know what does.) I think cooking satisfied a deep-seated desire in me to control things - you know, choosing the recipe, measuring the ingredients. (Some things never change!)

As young as 10 I was making breakfast - pancakes, eggs and sausage - at my cousins' house on Saturday mornings. Their mom would let us do pretty much what we wanted on those weekends, and our simple breakfasts are probably the first full meals I ever made. In middle school I took my first home-ec class, and would you believe I still have the recipes from that class? And I use them! Homemade pancakes and stir fry - and they're still as good as I remember (but my handwriting has definitely improved.) I'm pretty sure that class pushed me to try other things, and my love for baking was born. I started out making School Fudge from a recipe out of the church cookbook. (They're actually no-bake drop cookies, and they're the inspiration for this recipe, too!) I still love those cookies, and I'll have to share it with you guys one day, soon, too.

High school brought more home-ec classes and recipes for chocolate-chip cookies and croissants. My mom was also in school (and my dad worked third shift) so I made dinner for my sisters and myself quite often: I mastered mac-n-cheese and squash casserole during that time. Then came college, and my three roommates and I were considered odd because we all had one night to cook, and we actually sat down at the table together to eat every evening. (We also cooked for boys once in a while, but only one of us married the boy we cooked for back then!)

I'm pretty sure that I stole Brad's heart through is tummy. And my dad doesn't call me Mini Martha for no reason. And my grandfather often tells people that I'm a good cook - and I know he knows where I learned it all from, and that makes him even happier. Food is a big part of my history and it fills my memories. I think that's one reason why I love it so. There's a reason it's called soul food, you know? When it's done right it warms you through: body, heart and mind. And that's just how it should be.

No Bake Bars
Adapted from AllRecipes
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Ingredients
1 cup salted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups quick cooking oatmeal
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter

Directions
1: Spray a 9-inch square pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
2. In a large pan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, vanilla, and oats. Reduce heat to low and cook two to three minutes.
3. Place half the mixture in prepared pan. (Reserve other half for top.)
4. In a small, heavy pot over low heat, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter. Stir until smooth. Pour chocolate mixture over oats in pan, spreading evenly.
5. Crumble remaining oats over chocolate and press gently. Cover and refrigerate two to three hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before slicing.