Crispy Rice, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Squares

This post is overdue.  Way overdue.
I got distracted.
I'm sure that you are wondering what could have been so big that it distracted me from getting this post done.  And since you've asked then I suppose that I'll fill you in.  A bit.
I was celebrating.
My birthday.

I know that in my last post I told you all that I was beyond it, that I had matured and I was ok with things being a little more subdued than usual.  I didn't feel the need to have elaborate gifts this year (cause we're broke mostly) or go out to a fancy joint for some fancy food.  Truth is though that maybe I wasn't as mature as I'd hoped.  The gift thing... well, yeah.  It's nice to get something but maybe I am truly moving past the whole gift thing (love and hugs to those of you who gave me AWESOME gifts BTW).  I was lonely though.  I missed my friends both near and far.  I missed them a lot and I'm including family as my friends p.s.
D made it special... champagne and some chocolates from my favourite local (Torontonians into chocolate must frequent this place... MUST).   I had about 52 (not that I counted them or anything) birthday wishes on FB (I don't have a ton of 'friends' on FB ok - I'm choosy, Jeez).   Then I was thrilled when I got to go out with my BFF KT a couple of nights ago.  Just us... here, eating, drinking and having a great time together.  THEN... my other bestie T came over and cooked a meal for me... just ME.  And he brought champagne... 2 bottles (eek).  Then we sat back and had a great night.  Just eating and drinking and talking and lots and lots of laughing.  My kids made me the awesomest card and Kid #2 is just old enough now to write in his name.  It's the best.  So, with all of that going on I just got... distracted.  Who wouldn't with great friends like that around.
Can you imagine what this post would have been like otherwise... depressing.
Make these squares.  If you don't count the cooling in the fridge time then it will probably take you about 15 minutes (the fridge time adds another hour or so but the silver lining is that you don't have to sit in the fridge with these puppies and do anything to them).  Don't do what I did and forget to add the butter to the syrup stuff and then panic and spread butter over top of the pressed cereal in the pan.  Yeah that was weird but at the end of the day nobody cared 'cause they're damn tasty.

Crispy Rice, Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
1 square pan of bars

1 3/4 cups crispy rice cereal
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp light corn syrup
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (I totally forgot this BTW)

5 oz good milk chocolate coarsely chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter (can I just tell you that I was VERY generous with this)

3 oz good dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa solids) coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp light corn syrup
4 tbsp (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

Grease an 8 inch square baking pan.
Place the crispy rice in a bowl and set aside.
Pour 1/4 cup water, sugar and corn syrup into a heavy bottomed small sauce pan.  Gently combine with a wooden spoon.  Heat the mixture until a candy thermometer ready 235 degrees F.
Remove from heat and quickly add the butter.
Mix this with the crispy rice just until the rice is all coated.
Press into the bottom of the baking pan.
Cool to room temperature and make the...

In a metal bowl (nonreactive) mix the chocolate and peanut butter.  Place over a pot of simmering water.  Stir until the mixture is smooth.  Remove from the pan and cool just a minute or two.  Pour over the room temperature crust.  Refrigerate for about an hour or until it's hardened.  Then add the....

In another nonreactive bowl combine the chocolate, corn syrup and butter.  Simmer over a double boiler until it's melted and smooth.  Remove from the simmering water and cool just a minute.  Pour over the hardened peanut butter layer.  Refrigerate about an hour or until the top layer is hardened.
Cut the bars into squares and store in a tightly covered container.

Plum and ground cherry jam

I have a lovely square recipe that I was going to use as my birthday post.  Then I felt bad about taking things out of chronological order.  I have a little 'thing' about chronological order.  I have to read my books in the order that I purchase them.  I don't know why.  It doesn't even make sense.  I've never really taken it seriously because... well, I just didn't.  Maybe I thought it was one of my fun/quirky things.  Except now it seems that my 'quirkism' (my word - duh) is bleeding into other areas of my life.
So there I was with my great sweets recipe, thinking that it could make such a lovely birthday post because I'm not making a cake for myself and then it hit me BAM.  I couldn't do it.
Maybe it's a product of age.
This got me wondering what else is a product of age.  I wonder if
 - not caring about toilet seats and toothpaste lids
 - worrying more about a blog post than a clean floor
 - not going out on a weeknight 'cause I won't be home by ten.
 - caring more about champagne than birthday cake
 - caring more about seeing my friends (you know who you are you two) than getting presents (that's a new one for sure)
... if this is all a product of age.  If so I guess it's ok to be a year older.  If I start not caring about wearing dirty underwear and talking to myself on the subway then that's cause for concern.
For now I'm just going to roll with it.
Plums and sugar soaking up some sun...
Last week I thought I was ordering 5 plums.  Cool.  I ordered 5 pounds.  Not so cool.  Fortunately they were lovely local plums that I didn't feel guilty about but really... product of age I ask you.  Not one to fuss to much about these things and also not going to see them go to waste I got proactive.  When life gives you plums then you make... plum jam.
The ground cherries (also known as gooseberries) just looked interesting so I ordered them in the food box and they were lovely.
So a weird happy birthday to me.  I'm not going to tell you which one because I'm sure that you don't care, I sure as hell don't.  Let's just toast a slice of homemade pilgrims bread (recipe coming soon), butter it and slather it in plum and ground cherry jam... with a candle stuck in it of course.

Plum and ground cherry jam from Hitchhiking to Heaven

9 cups sliced plums
1 pint ground cherries (i had a little less so I mixed mine with the last of my wild blueberries)
4 1/2 cups sugar
2 oz (juice from about 1 1/2 medium lemons) lemon juice

4 500ml canning jars and lids

Prepare the plums: slice and combine with sugar and lemon juice in a large bowl.  Cover the bowl tightly and set aside for about 24 hours (or 4 if you are like me and don't want to wait that long and decide that the process will go faster if they sit in the sun... p.s. it works).
Combine in a large pot with the ground cherries (and blueberries if you screwed up on that one too).  Boil down at med/low heat for about an hour or until the whole things starts to thicken up.  I cooked it for about an hour but it could easily have gone longer.
Sterilize the jars.  Place the jam into the hot sterilized jars.  Seal the lids until they are just sealed but not super tight.  Place in a boiling water bath for about 10 minutes.
Set on a clean towel and cover with another clean towel.  Lids should be sealed so that they didn't click or give when you push on them.
Let them rest under the towel for about 24 hours to set.
Place in a cool dry place.  They will keep for up to a year.

This has nothing to do with plum jam... it's just me and kid #2 on vacation.  I'm reminiscing.

Beet Pickles... for somebody

I'm trying to churn out this blog post.  I'm sitting in front of my computer screen.  I'm even typing once in a while.  I get a paragraph down and then think 'that's so stupid.  Who cares'.  I delete the paragraph.  I write another few sentences.  I think 'what am I even thinking about here'.  I delete it.  And so on.  I realize that I've got nothing in my head.  What can I blame my complete empty brain on?  Even though it hasn't even been a month, it feels as though summer was an age ago... an era even.  This work thing is crazy.  How can we survive in our society without working?  And then flip the coin and wonder how we can survive working.
When I was reading this book (please don't start with me... I know, I know) the author talked a lot about working for money.  He thinks it immoral that we have to pay for food to sustain ourselves.  He also believes that working for a wage is yet another way to keep the masses down, occupied and compliant.  I kinda know what he means.  I have no idea though what life would look like without working for a wage.  I still have to exist in this 'world' that uses money for everything - absolutely everything.  I don't know what I would do without that paycheque and the benefits that come with it.  It terrifies me to think about it.  However, if it were ever a realistic option to survive without it believe me I'd be the first in line to try it out.  I can totally understand why we often define ourselves by what we do as opposed to what we are.  We spend so much time doing that work, so much energy there that it pushes out other things from our brains.  It starts to take over MY thoughts.  Sometimes my dreams.  I forget how to think without it.
I'm not going to quit my job anytime soon.  Maybe when I get to move to the country, live off grid, have my own chickens and root cellar and never cut my hair or shave again.  For now, I'm going to get up tomorrow morning and hustle my sorry ass off to work again.

All that to tell you that I made pickled beets this weekend.  Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would be interested in making beet pickles.  Less than a year ago I confess that I had never even cooked a beet before.  Here we are though, making beet pickles.  What?
Out came the stupid blue canner again and it happened.  I didn't make a whole lot because no one else in my house is going to eat them.  To be honest, I don't even know when I'm going to eat them.  I'm going to share them with my Mom though because she eats them too.  I haven't tasted them yet because they're in these jars that I just don't want to open up yet.  When I do open them up though, if they suck then I'll let you all know.    

Pickled Beets adapted from 'Canadian Living'

5 lbs Beets
2 1/2 cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp pickling salt (or I used coarse sea salt because that's all I had)
mustard seeds
coriander seeds

Wash the beets and boil them whole for about 30 minutes.  Remove from water and cool.  Slice them as you want them in the jars.
In the bottom of about 4 sterilized jars place a couple of whole cloves, about 4 mustard seeds and 2 coriander seeds.  Place the beets into the jars leaving at least a 1/2 inch of space at the top of each jar.
Combine the cider vinegar, water, sugar and salt together in a saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes or until the salt and sugar have dissolved.
Pour enough of the liquid mixture into each jar to just cover the beets.  Place the lids on firmly.  Boil in a water bath canner for about 30 minutes.
Remove and tighten the lids if necessary.  Place under a clean towel.  Make sure that the lids have sealed properly and then store in a cool, dry place.  Will keep for up to a year.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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