Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The Nut House
So when I was growing up, in the 60's (yes, I know, you weren't even born yet), things were less scary out in the world - we were basically turned loose to wander our surroundings, explore, play, and find our way back when we had exhausted all possibilities of fun to be had, AND it was getting dark and we were hungry. Sometimes we'd go back out in the dark after dinner and play some more until Mom noticed we weren't cleaning our room/doing homework/washing the mountain of dirty dishes and holler at us that it was time to come in. Mom's are NO FUN.
The same went for when we went shopping - I loved it because it gave me new and different places to explore - her regular haunts were Portland and Beaverton, and besides every Goodwill, Union Gospel Mission and Salvation Army in a 50 mile radius, our doctor's office was upstairs at Lloyd Center, so we went there a LOT. Five kids can keep you in tongue depressors and hypodermics (remember when they used to take the needle out and give it to you to play with?) continually - I think for the entire 60's at least one of us had strep at any given time. And we could recite 10 years of Highlights by rote...I always had a secret crush on Goofus, the original "bad boy".....Gallant was such a Momma's boy.
I LOVED Lloyd Center...Mom would take child "D" to the doctor, and the rest of us would scatter in the mall - we fought over who pushed the elevator buttons, would check for security and try to run up the down escalator all the way to the top before someone boarded at the top or suspicious and un-fun loving adults would start paying too much attention to us, or we simply collapsed part way up from running in one place too long and laughing hysterically at how stupid we looked. It was also fun to watch the ice skaters, especially from the bridge. Skating looked like fun, but I wanted to drive the Zamboni - I would've cleaned up that ice in record time, AND popped a few wheelies in the process.
My most favorite thing to do, however, was to go to Morrow's Nut House. The same every time, but like it was the first time EVERY time - it was a candy store like no other, because it also sold nuts. EVERY kind of nut, kept in a heated display case lined up neatly, the smell unbelievable - WOOF. We would occasionally have some pocket change, and would irritate the hell out of the salespeople asking for 1/8th or 1/4 lb or 37 cents worth of whatever we could afford - the bbq peanuts were cheap and delicious, but my favorite was the chili pepitas - pumpkin seeds are possibly the greasiest nut known to man, but SO good...and they were also dangerous because they were quite pointy on one end and could stick in the roof of your mouth if you weren't careful. The gold standard was pistachios, but they were too dear - but there is nothing like the memory of eating a tiny handful of them, and having pink stained fingers, lips and tongue from cracking the shells open. They always used to be dyed red...probably until they determined that kids were falling like flies to whatever cancer that dye caused. Mmmmmm....red #3. But to this day, the memory of a warm sack of nuts...stop your giggling, I'm SERIOUS!! FINE...maybe when you GROW UP...
They also made candy, and had a huge glassed in kitchen where they cooked caramel in a huge copper bowl over a flame, stirring with a big wooden paddle, and sometimes you'd get to watch while they dipped apples on a stick into that bowl and come up with them dripping in thick, creamy caramel and line them up on the counter to set. Some they would dip in a big tray of chopped nuts - I think the signs to "DO NOT touch the glass" were there because of us....and I NEVER got one of those damn caramel apples - if she had to buy one for me, she'd have to buy one for ALL of us...WHY couldn't I have been born of a single-child PROTESTANT family??!! I don't think I've ever bought a caramel apple in my 50+ years....guilt and poverty run deep I guess.
So yeah, this has nothing to do with anything, I just went to Lloyd Center today, and the only nuts there were people actually talking to the guy at the card table next to the Chevy Cruze...which is a decent looking car, but it ain't no Camaro. And now I am going to perform a magic trick, and pull a recipe right outta my arse...voila!
Chocolate No-Bake Cookies
Once again, I am dissing a very old family standard for an upstart newcomer I got a few years ago from a co-worker. Can't help it, they're just better, and there is no "Will it/won't it set up?" question....works every time! Thanks nurse Michelle....since I got this from a medical professional, I also firmly believe they are quite healthy...if you disagree, SHUT IT.
In a large bowl, combine:
3 C. QUICK oats (what did I say about subbing? Don't make me get the wooden spoon...)
3/4 to 1 C. peanut butter - creamy, chunky, I do not care
2 tsp. vanilla
In medium saucepan, combine:
1 cube margarine (yes, killer margarine, NOT butter)
2 C. sugar
4 T. cocoa powder
1/2 C. milk (see? Milk is healthy...)
Heat over medium heat stirring often until well mixed. Turn up to med high, stirring constantly; when it comes to a full, rolling boil (that means it still keeps boiling even if you blow on it until you turn blue and pass out, narrowly missing the corner of the island with your noggin) and count to 15...."One thousand one, one thousand two, one thous..." Just do it. After you get to 15, pour hot mixture over contents of large bowl (remember the oats?) and mix well. As quick as you can, start dropping by spoonfuls onto waxed paper or foil, let cool and harden as long as you can stand.
They actually look like something you might find in a barnyard, something possibly created by an animal that eats oats, but don't let that fool you...they are too good even to throw in the community swimming pool mid August as a joke that will clear the pool and force the hunky lifeguard to don a bunny suit and glove and fish it out with a long handled net and make all the neighbor kids find some other form of entertainment for the next couple days while they empty, sanitize and refill the pool. Not that I know anything about that kind of shenanigans....