Saturday, January 19, 2008

TJ-forsaken Abilene's other joys

I boarded a plane a week ago today and sat with my head turned toward my left shoulder. There it remained as I gazed at the raindrops sitting on my small window and dancing on the pavement. We lifted off, and my vision shifted to the cozy grey film over dimly lit landmarks. I wanted one more glimpse of Puget Sound. But it didn't take long for the layers of clouds to build up and overwhelm the lights of the early morning traffic along I-5. Seattle was gone.

Don't get the idea that I am now here shuffling my feet and grumbling about the straw-like grass. Abilene has presented the excellent challenge for me, especially as an artist, to call forth the beautiful. And often I have found it in the faces of the people (which, I guess, means I have to work on my portrait skills).

A dear friend's face smiled at me from within her car as she pulled up to the terminal at DFW to fetch me home. A familiar roommate face was in our little apartment to welcome me back. Then a new-but-old face (the kind with features perfect for drawing) arrived with bags to fill her awaiting room. And our newly formed trio became an unexpected quartet with a face from India!

It has been a wonderful first week...seeing friends again; getting to live with three lovely, diversified girls; having just enough homework to ignore it all until Thursday night; and, now, enjoying a three day weekend.

Having a break today allowed me to spend time in the kitchen and produce something of interest for you. The past six days have been many delicious but relatively unoriginal salads, apples with the Trader Joe's Almond Butter I smuggled away to TJ-forsaken Abilene, roasted sweet potatoes, and other things you have likely also whipped up yourself sans recipe.

But how about this: how about a sweet treat called "Honey Crunch"? Have you made something very nutty, sweetened with the intense home-y flavor of honey, mixed with coconut and currants, and producing a dark rich brown color from cocoa or carob powder? These refrigerator sweets were a pleasant answer to my sweet tooth and a nostalgic journey back to my mom's kitchen (where, if you were in search of something sweet, you were first handed fruit and then Honey Crunch).

So here it is...and you can anticipate some exciting new things this semester. With a roommate making chapatis nightly (yes, those are chapati-making utensils below!), another growing an indoor herb garden, and sushi being rolled "just because," I have a high standard to live up to and many exciting things to learn.

Hm, did I just get excited to be back in Abilene? Yes. I am.

Honey Crunch
Another recipe from Mom's family cookbook

1 cup honey
1 cup peanut butter (oh yeah, I have a jar of this from Trader Joe's too -- I halved the recipe because I couldn't bear to see so much of my precious peanut butter disappear at once!)
1 cup cocoa or carob powder (I believe my family has always used carob)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins (I used currants; you can use cranberries, blueberries, etc.)
1/4 cup wheat germ (optional)

1. In a large saucepan heat honey and peanut butter, stirring constantly just till smooth.

2. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa/carob powder. Mix well.

3. Add remaining ingredients.

4. Press into 8" square pan. Chill. Cut into squares. Store in refrigerator.


Sing&Wonder said...

Ah- looks so good.

Elise said...

ahhhhh yes! i remember the excitement of mom throwing these together in the kitchen - i could never quite wait until they had chilled through before cutting myself off a big piece. mmmmmm thanks for the yummy memory. i believe i too will be making them soon.

Kate / Kajal said...

hey u are lucky u have a pal who makes chapattis for you :P,
The honey crunch looks amazing. Would do gr8 over some fresh vanilla bean ice cream ...yum yum !

kristin said...

What a wonderful and easy recipe! I can't wait to make it - I'll grab the ingredients and make it for my snowshoe trip this weekend!! I will be very grateful as I shop at Trader Joe's for my ingredients - it's just a bike ride away.

Lael said...

oh, thank you dear people for the comments on this entry! hearing from others does somehow brighten a cold winter day considerably. So thank you for continuing to come back!

Kajal: I love your ice cream idea!

Kristin: I hope you enjoy your snowshoeing trip and that the honey crunch proves energizing as well as comforting.
p.s. Give Trader Joe's my love.

Rachael said...

oh, to hear your thoughts, food & friends brings you closer to home...keep on writing and sharing--I miss you!

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Elise said...

always looking forward to your next entry (hint hint)...

Lael said...

haha, I'm writing it right now!