Jenny and I often kid that if we end up old maids we’ll have to set up house together. She will clean and I will cook.
We are just joking. Kind of. Definitely joking about the old maid part. I hope.
But if we could each keep a housekeeping fairy in our pockets for the future, Jenny would choose one that would make dinner in the bleep of a microwave and I’d want a cleaning fairy who make the house sparkle and shine over night (brooms and vacuums give me the shivers). Whenever we have company, we each take the duties we most enjoy and feel is most important. And we both are satisfied doing what we do best.
Tonight we’re having company. Twenty-something girls filling the house for a Bible study, and also to talk, laugh, sing and have a tea party.
Just as I was entering the kitchen with my recipe box in hand, Jenny came in with a roll of paper towels. She took one look at me and then a dramatic head roll around the room.
“We have a lot of cleaning to do.”
“Can’t we just make some boxed muffins?”
I gagged a little. That was almost as bad as suggesting we buy dessert.
“I’ll make something really quick and easy. And then I’ll sweep the kitchen, empty the dishwasher, and vacuum the whole house.”
My winning smile was met with a resigned sigh and wave of paper towel as she hurried out of the room to scrub and scour.
Eager to make good on my promise, a bag of trail mix sitting in the refrigerator came to mind. So did a “recipea” I bookmarked yesterday from Mama Pea. Mama Pea is just the kind of mama I want to be one day. She’s awfully funny, she’s written a cookbook, she peels chickpeas on the couch with her girls. Her kitchen seems like a really fun and yummy place. I bet she even has a cleaning fairy.
So, this particular recipe for Chocolate Cherry Cashew Bars called for nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chips. In other words (and less measuring cups): trail mix. Flax and agave nectar were mixed in and within minutes, I had my dough. Win. I decided to make individual portions by baking in a mini muffin pan and forgot to adjust the baking time, so the cookies were slightly over-baked. They were difficult to get out (note to self: use recommended pan and buy parchment paper ASAP) so I just stuck the pan on top of the fridge to fully cool and was smugly on route to the vacuum.
And then, things took a bad turn. I was scrubbing bathroom sinks when Dad hesitantly knocked on the door and stepped in with a sheepish expression. “I have bad news,” He said slowly, “I accidentally washed away your dessert.”
Apparently, he had walked into the kitchen, spied the pan on top of the fridge, assumed it was just collecting dust up there and thought he’d be helpful by scraping out the cookies I had made not fifteen minutes before. Umm…Of course.
Now, others might have responded by throwing up their baking mitts and heading for the snack aisle of the grocery store, but I bit back my shocked and angry words. Instead, I weakly tried to smile at the irony of life, and with determination went back for my recipe box. I think I left the bathroom sink running. All I was concerned about was salvaging my reputation as the resident baking fairy.
I went back to Mama Pea. This time, I settled on her No Bake S’mores Bars, because when it is 100+ degrees outside, a dessert that doesn’t require standing over an oven or a blazing hot fire is a definite plus. They also looked fairly simple and were inspired by Mama’s own burn story. And you know what they say: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try s’more.
It’s true. Even if you spend the whole day in the kitchen, even if you leave chocolate smears on the microwave handle and even if you used all the hand towels wiping up an agave spill, the end result — baked with care and love — is worth it all.
And because I was no longer going for speed, only success, I made some donuts too. Because sprinkles make me happy and icing things sure beats scraping out a mini muffin pan.
S’more Bars (slightly adapted from Mama Pea’s No Bake S’more Bars)
Ingredients (Makes 12-16 bars)
- 2 c. old-fashioned oats
- 1 c. graham cracker crumbs (look for natural brands, i.e Back to Nature)
- 2 c. puffed kamut cereal (or crisp rice cereal)
- 1/2 c. chocolate chips
- 1/3 c. mini-marshmallows
- 1 c. agave nectar (honey or brown rice syrup also work)
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 1 t. vanilla
- 1/2 t. salt
- Coat an 8×8 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine oats, puffed kamut cereal, chocolate chips and mini marshmallows.
- Smash graham crackers into coarse crumbs. Add the crumbs to your mixing bowl.
- In a liquid measuring cup, combine agave nectar, brown sugar, vanilla and salt. The mixture will be thick and sticky.
- Pour the syrup over the cereal mixture and stir to coat.
- Transfer the mixture to your pan and press down with the back of a greased spatula. Put the pan in the fridge to set up for at least 30 minutes before cutting them into bars. Store remaining bars in an airtight container.
- After refrigerating, I stuck the bars in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes, just to firm them up a bit. I think agave nectar has less of a binding effect than brown rice syrup.