what the blat?

wp-1490715901059.jpgFollowing blogs for years, I wondered why folks walk away from their blog pulpit. Having not-so-recently stepped away for longer than I care to think about, I now get it.

All of us lead busy off-line lives with family, friends, jobs. But what really tripped me up, I suspect, was boredom. At the end of the day, after dealing with aforementioned family life and all that accompanies, I lacked energy to reach out to the blogosphere. I wanted to enjoy my food, but not necessarily write about it.

And while I can’t say that sentiment has changed much — my kids are still (relatively) young and needy and I still have work responsibilities — I feel strongly enough about the series I’ve started here to keep on keeping on.

wp-1490674469028.jpgWriting up Great-aunt Helen’s recipes is important to me. It’s a chance to trumpet what Helen has come to mean to me as I look back at her extraordinary life. Ironically, Helen would not call her life extraordinary. Yet when we peer through the current lens of what it is to be a strong, independent woman, it’s clear that Helen had this pegged long before most folks caught on.

Quite possibly, Helen would think this tribute rubbish. Or not, we’ll never know as she passed away more than a decade ago. But her recipes live on in the few boxes and files I inherited. It’s these recipes I’ve been slowly working through and you can read more about this project here. (Please do as the background helps color these posts.) As well, there’s a tab up top that links you to more.

wp-1490715844037.jpgMoving on, then. I blindly selected this recipe from one of Helen’s boxes as it seemed a simple snack to make for my family. It also presented mystery: Blat burg? What the what? Even after googling, I’m no closer to extracting any sort of meaning from its title. And Sarah Huber? I’ve no idea. As well, there was challenge: What size cereal boxes? Are Post Toasties still available? Soft ball stage? Long, flat pan?wp-1490674195435.jpgQuestions abound, but I figured I’d figure it out. Today’s cereal boxes are surely larger than in Helen’s time, so I guessed on amounts (6 cups corn flakes, 4 cups rice krispies). Those Post Toasties? Sadly, discontinued. Turns out soft ball stage is 235ºF (you can also drop small amounts of syrup in cold water to see what sort of ball forms). And a sprayed 15x10x1-inch pan did the trick.wp-1490674468950.jpgwp-1490715891187.jpgThe recipe card’s “cut when cold,” seemed a directive to refrigerate the bars though I wondered if they would set up at room temperature. Turns out they do not. A proper chill made for good slicing in the end.wp-1490715883484.jpgFlavorwise, I used honey instead of corn syrup. Should you lean toward more neutral flavors, stick with the corn syrup or possibly give agave a try. Using what I had on hand meant unsalted peanuts and the missing salt would have helped balance flavors. My oldest daughter suggested sprinkling a bit of kosher salt over the finished bars and she was spot on.wp-1490715908114.jpgThe popularity of protein bars, energy bars, etc gives this old-school recipe a certain relevance. Using other nuts, seeds, and dried fruits would improve nutrition further. Possibly Helen made these treats to enjoy on her frequent camping trips and hikes.

No matter when Helen enjoyed these bars, she would have continued forging ahead with her many projects. Whether working the small garden in her postage-stamp size Minneapolis backyard, planting flowers in her cul-de-sac as part of a neighborhood beautification project, keeping her humble home clean and organized, working decades as a social worker at the local University, Helen kept moving forward. Perhaps she sometimes found some of what she was doing tedious, but she kept moving ahead. As I will here. Helen may be gone, but her lessons — and recipes — live on.

26 thoughts on “what the blat?

  1. good to see you again, and all of that is completely understandable. i love your tributes to helen, and write when you are moved to do so, and that is plenty )

  2. Yay for your return and the Helen series. Good job figuring this one out! I get the absences. Life is busy! Helen would be honored by your tribute, but she seems just practical enough that I get why you think she’d think it’s silly. I love that kind of woman and you represent her so vividly. These bars are so modern! They look delicious and I had to laugh as you figured this all out. Be well! Xo

    • It’s like you knew Helen – you’ve totally sussed her out. Her recipe collection continues to surprise me – all these gems. I haven’t flipped through anyone else’s recipe collection from those years so I don’t know how hers would compare. It seems exceptional to me.

      Appreciate you being here. Thank you for coming over!

  3. Nice tribute to Aunt Helen. Not rubbish–that’s balderdash! You basically had to read a foreign language here. What are we left to do when there is no google match? Can it possibly be a real thing if google says no? As a person with fruit and nut trail bars in my pantry (and I like them sticky, not crumbly), I would try these! Maybe a little cranberry and cashew…

    • Probably not rubbish, no. Secretly I’d bet she’d be smiling on the inside. You should definitely make these yes.

      It’s the first time I’ve ever had google fail me. Maybe I mispelled it? Huh. Forever mystery.

  4. Welcome back, Liz! I wondered if you’d come back–and I’m glad you, and Helen, did. These bars seem to be sort of tarted-up forerunners of Rice Krispy Treats–it should be fun to experiment with making them a little healthier. I do like the idea of the kosher salt!

    • Thank you, Kerry. Yes, I thought of RK bars, too. Wish Post Toasties were still a thing. Let me know if you make a batch. Appreciate you being here!

  5. Hi Liz!! Great recipe!! And I fall into that, I have been so busy, and I test things all the time, but I don’t have the time anymore to take pictures and such. I wish I could say that I will get back to that soon but I am afraid maybe not that soon…but I will work on trying. I do feel bad that I don’t have time. I understand if you have kids and lots of other things going on it can not be easy to find free time!! But I am glad to see your post!! Cheers friend!! 🙂

    • Thank you, Chef 😀 It’s a tough one for sure and when I went back to look up old friends, I see that there are many people who haven’t posted in years. So I am in good company. Love that you’re still looking around though. This is a great community for sure. Cheers right back at you.

  6. I totally understand the absence. I’ve been struggling with getting a blog schedule together. Every time I have something planned life happens again and takes me another direction. I do at least keep up better with Instagram. I’ve been thinking about Aunt Helen and her recipes lately. My oldest found the recipe box I inherited from my grandma and he’s been begging to make several of the recipes. So now that your back does this mean next week we’ll see a drink recipe to go with these bars???!

    • Thanks for coming by, Gretchen 🙂 You know the adult beverage comes next, yes. Any suggestions? For sure start on your grandma’s recipes. That’s such a lovely way to bring your boys and late grandmother together! Let me know if you make something and how it turns out. And yes you are so right – life just keeps happening.

  7. ooops, guilty as charged! My break was a combo of a long holiday to the US (Disneyworld, can I please move in?), returning straight back to the craziness of a new school year (aaarrgh!) and just a smidge of laziness 🙂 These bars are the perfect snack for me to take to work. I lurve peanuts.

    • You, too, huh? It’s been fun to see that many of you are still around 🙂 Disneyworld is lovely, agreed. Did you make it to Epcott? That was my all-time fave. Tried to drink my way around the “world,” but at some point things started to blur, haha. Thank you for stopping over, Mum!

  8. Very cool post. I love your new project. I’ve never taken a break from blogging and I’m not sure why. Guilt? It’s funny when you’re your own boss of a non-paying job that really takes time to do properly. I must really enjoy blogging or I wouldn’t do it. As an old crotchety retired broad, I don’t do much that I don’t want to do!

    • Amen to that, sister Liz 🙂 Even after having returned, I still struggle to keep up. But folks here seem to understand and even empathize. Hope things go amazingly well on your end! Appreciate you stopping by much.

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