Monday, March 11, 2013

An Old Recipe; Still Good After All These Years

Today I had a little 7 year old visitor for a couple of hours. She was content to watch cartoons for a little while as her Dad had business to discuss with my husband. She soon tired of sitting there, in a strange house, and I had things to do also. I asked if she helped cook at home. She said not too much. I  asked if she would like to help? She said yes, if I told her what to do.

Scooping out the chocolate haystacks
I had to make dinner, and was planning to make chili, so I put the meat to brown in a pot. I chopped onions and gave my little helper strips of green pepper to cut into little bits to add to the chili. I had her use my garlic press, which she hadn't done before, but her small hands didn't have the leverage they needed to finish that job. I asked her to grind pepper. That kept her busy for quite a bit, and then I opened cans of tomato sauce and paste, and she added them to the pot. I always rinse my kidney beans so I had her do that. I asked her to stir the pot to get everything mixed. Once the chili was cooking away, she asked if there was anything else to make?

I got out my old tried and true cornbread recipe. I gave her measuring cups and a table knife and showed her how to measure into the cup and level off the contents. She got all the dry ingredients together, then opened up the stick of butter so I could microwave it. She measured the milk and cracked in the egg. She did the mixing. I held the bowl while she scraped the batter into the pan I had prepared. It went into the oven and a few minutes later she exclaimed at how it was growing.

And once again, we had finished. She was having fun, and wondered if there was anything else we could make. I got out a very old recipe for Chocolate Haystacks. I gave her the measuring cups again and the table knife and had her measure the oatmeal, and coconut. She ground the nuts. I melted the butter, cocoa and sugar. She stirred them together to combine, and I gave her a scoop to make the little mounds onto waxed paper. At the point she was almost finished making the haystacks, her Dad came back into the room. The haystacks were still completely soft, but I cut a section of the paper and set them into a box for her to take home. It was a fun and entertaining afternoon, and she was reluctant to leave. Here is the Haystacks recipe I have been making for 40 years, since my children were little:
Chocolate Haystacks

Chocolate Haystacks

2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
3 1/2 cups quick cooking rolled oats
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt

In a saucepan, combine the first 4 ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add in all the other ingredients until combined. Drop onto waxed paper into little mounds (haystacks). Allow to cool and set.

A simple recipe, and simple to make with the help of a child or two. Make someone's day and have them help you out. It is so rewarding.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.