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Susan Sleggs

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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chocolate

It’s National Chocolate Ice Cream Day. According to the National Day of Calendar, vanilla ice cream is sold more than chocolate. I’ll have to think about that. It seems when we go for ice cream, there are more chocolate cones in view than vanilla, especially when it is soft ice cream, or custard. But if you think about the fact that pie à la mode usually uses vanilla and sundaes are often made with vanilla, then I guess the calendar information must be right. Really, what difference does it make in the long run. Continue reading

Yum-Yum

I used to work at The Olive Garden restaurant. We could sneak soup or bread sticks when we were hungry, but we could get suspended for eating the Andes chocolate mint candies that were given when the check was presented at each table. Over such a little thing as that? Yes, because when there are fifteen-plus empoyees on duty and we all eat our fill, the big box that should last all evening, disappears in about an hour. The candies are so good, and a refreshing minty taste remains when one is allowed to slowly melt in your mouth. Continue reading “Yum-Yum”

Always Chocolate

It’s National Chocolate Ice Cream Day. According to the National Day of Calendar, vanilla ice cream is sold more than chocolate. I’ll have to think about that. It seems when we go for ice cream, there are more chocolate cones in view than vanilla, especially when it is soft ice cream, or custard. But if you think about the fact that pie à la mode usually uses vanilla and sundaes are often made with vanilla, then I guess the calendar information must be right. Really, what difference does it make in the long run.

When I was a kid I always picked chocolate when we went for ice cream and generally still do. My tastes have matured a bit so now I get it with raspberry or marshmallow added, and maybe some nuts too and or some extra chucks of solid chocolate. It was noticed recently that I order the same thing every time we go to Bruster’s for ice cream. To satisfy my friend’s thought process, the next time we were together, I ordered something different. You guessed it. I didn’t like it and regretted my decision and said so. He left me alone after that.

We have a couple of ice cream places near us that make their own hard ice cream. My husband and I will go for a drive and pass three or four other ice cream places just to get the made locally brands. I have a favorite flavor at each place, but both are chocolate based. I purposely don’t look at the calorie boards when choosing ice cream because it is a fact I don’t want to know. Let me enjoy my ice cream in ignorance. I’m sure it wouldn’t taste as good if I knew the reality of how many calories there is in a double scoop chocolate raspberry truffle in a waffle cone. The sun is out, maybe a trip to the ice cream stand is in order today.

 

My First Choice

It’s National Macaroon Day. Whenever there are holiday cookie trays in my reach, my first choice is the coconut macaroon. I never have liked those really dry, tasteless little coolies with lots of frosting. In the Jewish section of big grocery stores there are cans of Manischewitz macaroons. I have to resist buying more than one can, because I eat them all. What a treat! A moist morsel of coconut already prepared for me.

Macaroons are very easy to make. The National Day of Calendar gave two recipes; one made with egg whites and the other with condensed milk. I can’t tell you which one is better, but the fact one had you dip the cookies in melted chocolate got my attention. Chocolate at any time is a good thing.

In the novel I wrote, that is still just a pile of paper on my desk, I have my main character, Millie, making macaroons. It’s a cookie you can make as soon as you think about it because there is no waiting for the ingredients to warm to room temperature. They bake quickly and disappear even more quickly.

I think I need to stop writing and go put coconut and condensed milk on my shopping list. The next time my grandchildren are here would be a good time to serve macaroons, that way I won’t eat all but the two my husband enjoys.

Marshmallows and Chocolate

It’s National Heavenly Hash Day. In my neck of the world that means chocolate ice cream with chocolate bits and marshmallow swirl in it. According to the National Day of Calendar there are many other recipes from different ice cream makers, including one that is fruity. I’ll stick with the chocolate, thank you.

My husband works in big construction. Not outside on the projects as they are being built, but in the office, figuring out how much it is going to cost to build something, or renovate. He’s called an estimator. Today in western New York it is 20 degrees. I know, it isn’t zero, but it’s cold compared to being inside, and he has to go inspect an old building to decide if it is worth renovating. Bottom line, he’s going to be outside most of the morning. He left the house in heavy boots, warm clothes and his winter coat instead of dress shirt and tie.

What does this have to do with Heavenly Hash? Well, we aren’t 40 anymore, and when my husband gets cold, he doesn’t warm up as fast as he used to. I carried wood in yesterday and told him I would have a roaring fire in the fireplace and the family room up to 80 degrees when he got home. (When we bought our house, the neighbor informed us, our family room was the easiest room on the street to heat with its fireplace. That was learned during an ice storm in 1991 when there was no power for a few days and the neighbors congregated in our big room to play cards, share food, stay warm, and wait for the power to come back on.)

So, who wants ice cream on a 20 degree day. Well, if I’m true to my word, and the fire is raging, a bowl of Heavenly Hash might just be the right thing to have for dessert tonight. Maybe I’ll add some peanuts on his. He likes that.

OMG! I Need Chocolate

I’m celebrating National Bittersweet Chocolate Day by telling you about my day yesterday. It started when I went out to fill the bird feeder. Sometimes, you have to admit your own foibles and laugh at yourself, just to carry on. Without really thinking ahead, I got my little bucket of seed, carefully stepped outside the sliding glass door onto the step, then onto the snow-covered ground, in flat soled moccasins…..of course I slipped and fell. My right butt cheek hit the corner of the step and lets just say it’s a bit sore this morning. I’m certainly glad there was no camera around. The squirrels and birds thought a patio size dinner table was quite the treat, nothing went to waste but my dignity.

I then went to my sewing studio and played with my new free-motion quilting machine, fabric, and organization. I was satisfied with the outcome, especially how nicely the machine works.

Monday afternoons I have the privilege of picking my grandson up from school and taking him to his private Karate lesson. It’s amazing how much he improves on a weekly basis. If we have time to kill between school and class we often stop at the local quilt shop, his choice over getting hot chocolate. (An empty stomach for class is a good thing.) He has a grand eye for color and helps with my selections. The street he lives on is one of those city streets that doesn’t get a lot of visits from the snow plow. By the time I got back on the expressway to come home, the underside of my car was snow-covered. It was 23 degrees and nothing was melting. When I got to my exit ramp, for whatever reason, everyone in front of me stopped….I hit the brakes, but they locked. They was no screeching of tires, swearing, or swerving; it was more like a big box sliding across the flat kitchen floor! I hit the back of the car in front of me with a big thump. Oh Crap! Long story short, there was no visible damage on either of our cars, we exchanged insurance card photos just in case and went on our way. I considered not even mentioning it to my hubby, but just in case the phone rings, I decided if I whined about what a bad day I had, I might get sympathy instead of disgust. It worked great!

So this morning I sit telling you of my immense need for chocolate yesterday to calm my nerves while trying not to put pressure on my right butt cheek. It hurts! Now it is snowing again, and we are supposed to get freezing rain about noon. I’m staying in the house! I wonder if there is any chocolate left in the cupboard.

 

National Trail Mix Day

Have you gone shopping for trail mix lately?  In the super market I use, Wegmans, there are multiple kinds in the nut section, there are different kinds in the bulk food section and there are yet others in the health food section.  So, I leave the definition of trail mix to you.  I have read the first one made was just peanuts and raisins.

I like to take a bag of trail mix when we go on a car trip.  {It used to be motorcycle trip but the husband’s back gave out, and we have had too many close friends get hurt; I’m actually afraid to get on one now days.} The handy snack satisfies all sorts of cravings.  You can pick out just the chocolate when you need a sweet fix, and you can pick out all the cashews at one time, before anyone else gets to the bag.  The little pieces of dried fruit often give a more sour flavor burst if that is what you desire; and all jumbled together sends the taste buds into happy land, plus puts off the “I have to stop to eat!” demand for a while.  It’s a great staple for in the room too, no refrigeration or heating necessary.

Trail mix was “invented” for just that, eating on the trail when hiking.  I have been on some beautiful trails in my life.  Number one would be on Mt. Rainier in Washington state.  We parked in the Paradise parking lot and my friend pointed UP.  “You see that bench up there?” “Yeah.”  “That’s where we are eating lunch.” “Really?”  I didn’t have the exercise gene back then either, but I made it.  Trail mix was our dessert and the begging jay birds had some too.

Now I am back living in New York state, home territory.  There is a park named Harriet Hollister Spencer State Park that has wonderful views from the trails.  If you didn’t grow up around here, you’ll need a GPS to find it.  We also have Letchworth and Stony Brook state parks, plus many others.  I’m sure you have a great park near you.  Grab a bag of trail mix and go check one out.

One word of caution; dried fruit and chocolate can last almost indefinitely, not so with some types of nuts.  In an open bag in the cupboard they can go rancid.  So buy yourself some fresh trail mix and enjoy the Labor Day Weekend  (If you are in the U.S.)  while eating it, even if you do so in front of the TV, on the golf course, or around a fire pit.

National Toasted Marshmallow Day

Toasted Marshmallows go hand in hand with campfires, fires on the beach or around the back yard fire pit, and sometimes over the gas flame on the stove in the kitchen.  They are an age defying treat some like golden brown and others like charred black with a gooey white center.  But be careful, I have heard of a rule that if your burning delight falls in the fire, you don’t get another one!

Ghost or scary stories come to mind when I think back about marshmallows.  There was always that one camp counselor that could tell an animated tale that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up.  We called that fun, but now I’m not quite sure why.  Most of us knew there really wasn’t a boogeyman in the woods, but because of our age, there was always that niggling concern there might be.  Laughing as a group and walking back to our tents with marshmallow strings stuck to our chins made the hairs lay back down.

I would guess the statistics are pretty high that people who rent cottages for a time during the summer have marshmallows on their list of food items to take with them, or they make a quick trip to the nearest grocery store to get them before the bonfire is lit.  I’ve only been in a few RV camp registration offices that have essentials for sale, but  those essentials include marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate bars.  S’mores are not an optional item when camping; whatever your definition of camping might be.

If you don’t like your marshmallows toasted they are great in Ambrosia Salad, melting on the surface of a cup of hot chocolate, or as a swirl in chocolate ice cream.  The fluff form is used in making fudge, and mixed with yogurt it makes a great fruit dipping sauce.

There’s a way to make any form of marshmallows even better.  Enjoy them with friends or multiple generations.

National S’mores Day

The origin of this tasty snack is credited to the entrepreneur Alec Barnum. However, the first recorded version of the recipe can be found in the 1927 publication of Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts.   Even though the Girl Scouts were not the first ones to make s’mores, Girl Scout groups describe them in their reports as early as 1925.  Earlier recipes used the name “Some Mores”.  It is unclear when the name was shortened to “S’mores”.

What ever the name, I hope everyone on earth has had a form of this treat at least once.  Maybe even once a summer.

I know the most common place to have s’mores is around a campfire.  That’s great if you like mosquitos and camp fires.  When my kids were in their early teens we got all the ingredients and cooked the marshmallows over candles in the living room.  I thought too late about what the black smoke would do to the ceiling.  Not a good idea in a hotel either.  It sets off the smoke alarm!  Not telling where I tried that one.

A couple years ago we were visiting my husband’s niece in Cleveland.  Her husband made her a s’more by cooking one of those new huge marshmallows over the flame on their gas stove; after their boys had been pronounced fully asleep.  She proved to us, no matter how old you are, dessert is a good thing, and there is no lady like way to eat s’mores.  She ended up with marshmallow on her nose and fingers.  If it hadn’t been bedtime we would have joined her.

I never went to Girl Scout camp, but we had s’mores at 4-H camp and at church camp.  In those days there were only three true ingredients: graham crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows.  Today substitutions are encouraged, most of which have to do with peanuts.  Use a peanut butter cup, or add peanut butter or Nutella.

Which ever way you choose to enjoy this delicious, messy treat, make sure summer doesn’t get by you without having one.

 

 

 

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

One of my favorite smells is chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven.  It’s not only the smell; it’s the satisfaction of mixing them up, licking the beaters, having well used cookie sheets, and family waiting to eat them while they are hot.

I grew up in a 4-H household so I learned early how to measure ingredients correctly, use good ones and have the butter and eggs at room temperature.  We rarely bought any baked goods; Girl Scout cookies and Oreos were exceptions.  Nestle’s semi-sweet chocolate chips were, and still are, my chip of choice.   I’ve tried others, but nothing comes close to the familiar taste I came to know as a child.  I can probably recite the cookie recipe on the back of the Nestle’s bag.

My mother was born in 1906.  I’m not sure her age had anything to do with it, but it was customary to serve a snack whenever coffee was poured for a visitor.  Mind you, the definition of visitor was usually a neighbor, a best friend or one of my father’s hunting buddies.  I have carried on that tradition and I like that I am known for scratch-made cakes and cookies.

My grandson stayed overnight when he was about five and asked if we could make cookies.  Of course I said yes.  He opened the refrigerator door, stood there inspecting the shelves and finally said, “I don’t see any.”

I smiled when I realized he was looking for a package of pre-mixed dough.  I told him, “Grandma doesn’t do it that way.  How about you help me.”  He watched wide eyed as I got out all the ingredients and the mixer.  He had a ball cracking the eggs and being my taste tester.  I got a call about a week later from my daughter.  She said in a sarcastic tone, “Thanks.”  I asked,  “For what?”  Her answer, “William now expects me to make cookies the way you do.”  I told her to think of it as a bonding opportunity.

I find it sad that families today are so busy that baking from scratch is not the norm anymore.  Heck, I know a bunch of young women that don’t cook at all.  It doesn’t make sense to me that they never learned.

May I suggest, the next time you eat a chocolate chip cookie try to imagine yourself at a kitchen table eating it hot out of the oven.  I guarantee it will taste better.

 

 

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