An Exercise in Forgiveness
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Such a relief to have warmth in the air, and sun, and birds and frogs and one perfect blue dragonfly. Seems the flowers are all going to bloom at once and why not? Everything seems to have been on hold for so long that one can’t help but expect a kind of bursting forth. I read recently a quote by Norman Cousins where he said that life is an exercise in forgiveness. That’s what spring feels like today — an exercise in forgiveness. For a very long, snowy cold stretch of months. For all that shoveling, and for how we’ve all been somewhat cooped up. For a winter that felt merciless.
Forgiveness isn’t an easy thing. Especially when I was young, I had a rough time saying the words, “I forgive you.” It’s gotten easier over the years, mostly because, with experience, I’ve come to understand that not forgiving is much more taxing on one’s spirit. I remember a time, long ago, when Mr. Sundberg and I had a rather awful disagreement, and he got stern and mean and said a few things in a heated moment. Told me I was just a small town girl who doesn’t know which way is north, and that I talk too much and that if I’d stop moving around so much I might get more done. And I told him that he’s a stubborn mule and he ought to loosen up and dance awhile and he might see the light and live a bit longer. Something along those lines. The words silenced us both, and the next words we exchanged, a few days later, were, “I’m sorry,” and “I forgive you.” Felt pretty good. Much better than the silence.
It’s hard to love people, but harder not to have them to love. I know this. I don’t mean to go into motivational speaker mode, but if you’ve got someone in your life who caused you some pain, consider forgiveness. Because if you haven’t, the pain is still there. And that kind of pain can do major damage to your thoughts, and to the ease with which you breathe. Don’t wait for the, “I’m sorry.” Just forgive. The way spring does winter. It simply lets it go, moves forward, blooms.
This recipe is a result of my delight in some bars I had in a café in Ireland. I talked with the baker there, then went searching and tried a few recipes and made some changes, and this is as near to those bars as I can get. And they work just fine.
Caramel Shortbread Bars
2 cups flour
½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp salt
¾ cup butter, chilled
½ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 15-oz cans sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
10-oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
4 T butter, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and lightly grease.
Combine flour, sugar, salt and butter with a pastry cutter, until it reaches a sandy consistency and the butter is mixed in. This can also be done by hand, rubbing the butter in with your fingertips.
Transfer mixture to prepared pan, spread evenly and press into a firm layer. Bake for 35 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool.
In a medium saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, salt and sweetened condensed milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly (making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan), until caramel comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 4-5 minutes while stirring until caramel thickens. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour caramel onto cooled crust and spread into an even layer. Cool.
Melt together chocolate and butter in a double boiler, or in microwave at 50% power, stirring until mixture is very smooth. Pour onto caramel and spread into an even layer with a spatula.
Cool, slice, and serve. Makes 36 bars.