Saturday, March 4, 2023

Google and recipes and friends

My oldest is in the middle school musical (a big role, and she’s killing it, if I do say so myself). I signed up to bring desserts to tonight’s cast party and I was trying to knock that out this morning before things got busy. One idea I had involved a butter yellow cake mix, so I looked up a recipe for THAT thinking I could finesse that based on what would be added to a box mix. 

Within a minute I had an answer… gleaned from a Google image search. Of course I could have done that myself, and I felt a bit sheepish. 

But then something pretty cool happened. 

My high school theater director chimed in: “are you making gooey bars?”

Yes, I was! Wait, chimes in the person who originally answered me. What are those, they sound delicious! 

So I shared that they are a bar version of the St Louis classic Gooey Butter Cake. My mom always called them chewy bars, because somewhere in the passing on of this recipe its origins were lost and its name misheard as “chewy bars.” Only after marrying into a St Louis family did I realize what I really had. 

And I dropped in a photo of the recipe:

(I was in the process of making crepes for my kids during this exchange)

And my theater teacher shared a photo she had of the recipe, also in my mom’s handwriting, and my other friend is going to make them to try them out. Side note: it’s funny to think that when this recipe was circulating, there must have only been one size box of powdered sugar!

And later a cousin chimed in, was I too young to remember Grandma Mom’s molasses cookies? Yes, but please share the recipe!

But anyway, if there’s a point to my story, it’s just to note that, as much as I could have googled this myself (and, btw, another friend googled and shared the answer to the question I really wanted to know: a substitution for the cake mix), if I had I would have missed out on these wonderful interactions with friends and I wouldn’t have shared the recipe with them or with you. It’s convenient to be able to Google and find your own answers, but it’s easy to forget that there’s an invisible trade-off in that choice. Like every choice, really. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Ivymas and the Ivy Fairy

The night before our youngest, Ivy, turned 7, she and her mom were drawing a fairy that was somehow involved in a heretofore-unknown holiday called Ivymas. They had to stop for bath time, but Ivy told me in no uncertain terms that I had to write a story about the Ivy Fairy and Ivymas. I think it came together pretty well:

There is a beautiful and tenacious plant called ivy that grows on the side of buildings, covering them in a thick blanket of leaves. You may not know this, but these thick curtains of ivy are a favorite place for certain kinds of fairies to make their homes. They have a name they call themselves, but most people call them Ivy Fairies.

These fairies love to have fun. They play through the air with reckless abandon, turning cartwheels with cardinals, doing roundoffs with robins, and somesaults with sparrows. Because of their colorful wings, humans often think they are seeing butterflies, when really they are seeing Ivy Fairies.

Ivy Fairies are carefree, fun-loving, sweet, and just a little mischievous. But they have one thing they take very seriously, a sort of duty that they have taken upon themselves: they love the ivy that provides them homes and identifies to human beings, and they honor this connection by keeping a special eye out for little girls--or boys--named Ivy, and when they find such a special child in their neighborhood, they undertake to celebrate this child on her or his birthday, which the fairies call "Ivymas."

While an Ivy is sleeping before their birthday, in the middle of the night, the Ivy Fairy creeps up the side of the house--just like an ivy vine--and slips quietly into Ivy's room to deliver a special note with birthday good wishes and perhaps a small gift as a token of affection between an Ivy Fairy and the Ivy that it loves so well.

So: if you ever see a fairy that looks like a butterfly, you might want to yell "thank you!" to her. The fairy will appreciate it, and if it's just a butterfly after all, well, butterflies like to feel appreciated too.