Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Little Nostalgic Meanderings

Occasionally I get a little sentimental about things.  It could be something random like an old visor of Aaron's (that he just happened to be wearing when I met him) or when I'm cleaning out the kids clothing drawers, yet permanent indicators that they'll never be that small again and the baby years are passing.  Sometimes it's a song on the radio that brings back times in my life of love and loss or a Bible verse that reminds me of some of my first moments experiencing Jesus.

But those aren't the ones I'm talking about today.  The ones I'm talking about today are the little nostalgic, sentimental things that remind me of my parents.  Small, seemingly insignificant things that give me the 'warm and fuzzies', as I call them, and some that bring me to tears.

There's a whole world of these things that I enjoyed as a child, but have learned to deeply appreciate as an adult.

It was making Snowballs, my mom's signature Christmas cookie, at Christmas time.  I'd always have my hands freshly buttered as she mixed perfectly proportioned ingredients together atop the stove.  We'd work together and roll those balls until our hands were red, heave them around in powdered sugar, and put them on wax paper to dry.  I think I'll remember the look of my mom's hands mostly from this event that happened, in most years, only once.

There was the annual 4th of July picnic with my grandparents at their lake, and the taste of all of my mom's 'summer salads'.  Bean salad, potato salad, macaroni salad, cucumber salad (of which I have recipes for none).

There was our annual trek to the fair parade.

I can remember many nights sitting with them in the screened in room watching the lightning bugs.

And the way the air conditioning felt when we'd watch TV Land inside on late summer nights.

I remember the evenings that dad would put a roast on the spit and I'd cut the slits in the roast to insert fresh cloves of garlic.  And the homemade spaghetti sauce that he made from scratch (that left a horrible mess in my mom's kitchen, but boy was it good.) I can even remember the voice and the precision with which he'd explain to me how things were to be done.

And he's the reason today that I can't see a box of rice krispies without thinking of him.

And that is totally where this blog is going.

My dad (and now I, ahem) made the best rice krispy treats ever.  Ever.  Hands down.  Maybe this is my opinion because rice krispy treats were one of my favorite treats going up and for whatever reason, my mom couldn't nail them to save her life.  (Which is odd, because her signature Christmas cookie is full of rice krispies!)  But maybe it was because dad was just that good at making them.

Rarely were they 'special' at all.  We didn't add anything to them, but I can remember standing in a chair next to the stove, normally after dinner, when my dad would make us all rice krispy treats.

What I'm about to tell you is really a family secret, but it's not really rocket science either, so do with it what you may.

Everything was measured out before hand.  Butter.  Check.  Rice Krispies.  Check.  Marshmallows.  Check.  Pre - sprayed 9X13.  Check.

This step was essential as the secret to the best ever rice krispy treats is all in the timing... and the timing must be perfect.

The four tbsps (+ just a hair more) of butter was put in the already warming pan and pushed around with a wooden spoon.  I don't know what utensil is your rice krispy utensil, but in this house it will always be a wooden spoon.

The moment the butter is melted all of the marshmallows (recipes say about 35, and we use 40) must be added and stirred consistently.  Melting must be consistent and that meant moving them over the heat often.

Just as you are seeing the last few lumps of marshmallow, and not a moment later, you remove from the heat and immediately add half of the rice krispies, stirring constantly and adding the rest as quickly as possible.  All lumps of marshmallow still disappear, but it doesn't allow the marshmallow to begin to harden at all.  (It's a fair note to add here that if the recipe says 6 cups of rice krispies, we use about 5 1/3 to 5 1/2.)

The mixture is then poured (ahem - I use that word literally, it should pour) into the pre-sprayed 9x13.  (Aren't you glad we pre-sprayed it!  No need cooking that marshmallow in that warm pan any longer than we have to.)  Don't bother trying to mold it into the pan yet.  It's not going to happen.  Too sticky.  Take this opportunity to eat whats on the spoon, and the dig the excess out of the pan with said spoon and eat that too.  It's mandatory.

After you've chiseled off the cemented on marshmallow from the pan, you're probably good to go smush down the treats into your 9x13.  Let sit for an hour or so to cool, then to cover press wax paper to the top.

Now, don't be surprised when you go to 'cut' yourself a treat to no avail.  These stay gooey and should pull right apart for you from the moment they go in the pan to the last bite days (or day) later.  Cut if you wish, but I assure you'll just pull apart in the end.

And voila.  The best. rice. krispy. treats. ever.  And from now forward I hope my kids will think of their Papa when we make rice krispy treats... and moreover, I hope that as they grow and learn that as they reach adulthood they will have many of the same memories of how we've impacted them.

It just goes to show you how very small the effort has to be to impact the lives of your children for their entire lives.  Such a humbling and awesome responsibility.

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