Hold someone close to you today

Archived | August 22, 2012 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. After a long week of school shopping and supply buying and loading up on afterschool snacks and answering questions about school and what bus and how many more days … Saturday felt like Saturday. I spent a good part of the morning talking with people — on the phone with a salesperson, and with someone handing out tracts door to door. Some people you meet only once in your life and nothing wrong with kindness and a good ear.

Been a lot of high emotion these August days with the heat and all, and storm systems rolling in, and the rush to get it together before school begins. My comment Saturday afternoon at the grocery store got a laugh from the woman working at the deli: “Guess the Good Mood Club canceled their meeting today.” Easy to forget that every person is a life, with a bazillion relatives who each have their own lives. And every life is full up with every facet of what it means to be a human being on Earth in 2012: issues financial, marital, parental, social, job-related, religious, political, global, personal. So much. On top of all of that, we have beds to make, clothes to coordinate, food to cook, pets to manage, and a real need for a hearty laugh now and then, and a deep conversation, and a good long hug.

Dropped the kids off at school this morning for orientation, and they didn’t want to hug me. Too many other kids around, maybe, for the awkwardness of leaning over the seat or into the car. Which is OK. They hugged me last night, each of them, before bed. “A Real One,” I said, and they each came through. I got three solid embraces, felt their hearts beating and the warmth of their skin, smelled their hair.

Easy to forget, in all the rush, in all of the pain and anxiety and tumult, in the quiet and the clamor of the doorbell and Aisle 4 and in the waiting room at the car repair shop how important it is to touch each other, to pause just for a moment and wrap our arms around a person we love and feel the beat of a heart other than our own. So here’s my charge this time around: Hold someone close to you today, someone you love or could love, or someone who drives you up a wall but you’re going to give it a whirl anyway. If nothing else, it’s a shot of endorphins. Which we all need. And I find, often, when I need something, I give it. Just sayin’.

Something about caramel, chocolate and salt all together in one bite. Can’t explain it right now, but it feels right to me. These bars would be more than welcome at the end of a first day at school. At the end of any day, really.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 T butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips
10 ounces caramel candy squares, unwrapped
3 T heavy cream
Sea salt, for sprinkling over caramel and bars

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix the melted butter and sugars together until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

In a large microwave safe bowl, combine the caramels and heavy cream. Microwave caramels on high until caramels are melted, stirring every 20 seconds. This will take about 2 minutes, depending on your microwave.

Divide the cookie dough in half. Press half of the cookie dough into an 11×7 greased baking pan, smoothing the top with the spatula. Pour hot caramel over the cookie dough. Sprinkle caramel with sea salt. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough over the caramel and spread dough with a spatula until the caramel is covered. Sprinkle the bars with additional sea salt.

Bake cookie bars for 30 minutes at 325 or until the top of the bars are light golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan. Cool bars. Cut bars into squares and serve.