Summer Fever

Archived | July 31, 2015 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I’m still coming down from the great emotional waves of the graduations and the wedding, and if you hear that I ran after the car as my daughter and her new husband drove away for their honeymoon, it’s not true. I stood in the driveway and waved, as is my custom when someone I love is off on his or her way. I waved til I could not longer see their little black car, then I went inside and cleaned up after the gift opening party and took a nap and later on Mr. S and I sat on the porch and cried awhile – happy tears, Thank-God-It’s-Over tears, tears not of sadness, but right next door.

Since then, gears have shifted and here we are getting the other two ready for college. Not much of a break from feeling things, Love and ache and excitement and irritation and all of it rolled up and exploding here and there in the day and in the quiet hours of night. I’ve been walking more lately, reading a bit more, baking into the night now and then. Sometimes I go on Facebook and look around and see what I can find. And I find a lot. Enough that I limit myself to short stretches of time or else I wind up in some far corner of the Internet on a bench looking at the sky and wondering, “How did I get here?” Clicking. That’s how. You click enough times and you could very well wind up in a Wisconsin cheese factory. Or on the moon. Or in a yoga class next to the sea.

Speaking of clicking, sometimes I wish there were a Love button. Right next to the Like button. I mean, I Like a lot of things, but some things I Love. The right song at the right moment, photos of children swimming and pie and solitary trees, quotes about picking yourself up and moving forward, stories from ordinary good people about what they did or didn’t do today, recipes for cobbler and dip, images of people in love, anything that makes me laugh, Christmas lights. Of course, someone would inevitably suggest a “Hate” button, but I’m thinking if a person doesn’t like something, or even hates it, why holler it out? Truth be told, the opposite of Love isn’t Hate anyway; Hate is simply anger having a temper tantrum, and it’s just not all that appealing. The opposite of Love, in my mind, is Indifference. In which case a “Whatever” button might be the thing.

This is what happens when there’s no one else around and I play some Johnny Cash and open a bag of barbecue potato chips and wander the fields of my laptop. Sometimes it’s like attending a Buddhist retreat. Others, like Oktoberfest or my own private Burning Man. And sometimes it’s like the county fair, where I spend far too much time tossing rings at bottles from impossible angles, hoping not that I’ll win the giant teddy bear, but that something unexpected will happen, something astonishing, after which the one word you can bet I won’t say is, “Whatever.”

It’s the time of summer when, if people at your house aren’t on each other’s nerves, they will be soon. Summer fever, similar to cabin fever, only it’s not snow but sticky heat that keeps you inside and people are around a lot more because school hasn’t started yet. This recipe is guaranteed to inspire a truce. No one will want to leave the kitchen til they’re gone. No one.

Peanut Butter Caramel Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Caramel Filling
11 oz bag vanilla caramels
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
4 T butter

Cookie Dough
12 T unsalted butter
2 cups light brown sugar
½ cup creamy peanut butter
2 eggs, room temperature
1-2 T vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
2½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup Reese’s peanut butter chips
1 cup Heath toffee bits

Line a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with parchment paper.
Unwrap caramels and place in a small saucepan with butter and sweetened condensed milk
Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramels have fully melted and the mixture is nice and smooth. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add peanut butter and continue mixing.
Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each egg, and add vanilla.
Combine flour, oats, baking powder and salt in a separate small mixing bowl.
Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, slowly stirring until well combined.
Stir in the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and toffee bits.

Spread ⅔ of the dough on the bottom of the pan.
Slowly pour caramel mixture evenly over the dough
Drop the remaining dough on top by teaspoonsful, here and there.
Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Let cool completely and then cut into bars.

Makes 24 bars.