Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bark Candy

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When we lived in the Boston area, I worked for Jordan Marsh department store as a bridal consultant. I worked at the Burlington and Peabody (pronounced PEE-ba-dee) malls.

It was a tumultuous time for the store, as well as the retail world. Federated Department Stores finally bought out May Company, their long-time rivals, and in the coming years closed many stores. It seemed as though they turned nearly every major department store into a Macy's. Jordan Marsh was one of the first stores to change to a Macy's and it was a BIG TO-DO.

The Jordan Marsh folks were loyal and proud. Jordan Marsh was founded in Boston in 1841, and though it was part of Federated Department Stores when I went to work there, it had always been Jordan Marsh. In 1996, all the Jordan Marsh stores changed to Macy's. It was a gradual change that had customers and employees up in arms. They did not want Macy's...not one bit. The day that the "MACY'S" lettering went up on the stores was a somber day. I'd only lived in the area for 18 months at the time, but I knew how the locals felt.

I really loved this job and worked with some interesting personalities. There was L*** (ya's a small world, and you never know who's reading your blogs!), a tough older woman who thought she was the boss of everybody. She did her best not to lift a finger, to make others (me) do her work and take credit for things she did not accomplish. There was Marsha, an older Jewish woman who was like a grandma to me. She was fabulous and a dear, dear woman who had been in the business for years and taught me everything she knew. Barry was a large, gruff, outspoken man who was exactly what you'd think of when you thought of a stereotypical Boston area local. With Barry the customer was never right, and he wasn't afraid to tell it like it was. (He was usually spot on...but in the mid-west where I'd just come from, no employee would dare say the things he did to a customer!!)

Then there was Susan who was a quiet, shy, and kind woman. We weren't friends outside of work, so I was especially surprised when she threw a surprise going-away party for me when I left (to move to Myrtle Beach). Honestly, in all the places that I've lived or worked at, no one has treated me nicer than Susan did. At my going away party she decorated the office, had a cake made, and presented me with a huge basket of gifts from my co-workers. I was blown away by their thoughtfulness. As an outsider coming to work with long-time locals, they truly included me in my short time there. One of the gifts in the basket was a handmade recipe book, with their favorite recipes. It's the only part of the gift I still have. My favorite recipe from that book is a simple one that Susan used to bring into work: Bark Candy.

Bark Candy

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with foil and butter it.* Line it with saltine crackers.

In a small pot, boil for one minute:
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
1 C sugar

Pour over the saltines.

Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips.** Let sit until soft and then spread the chocolate. Sprinkle with crushed nuts. Refrigerate one hour. Break into pieces and peel off foil.

*I made it this way for years. Now that I have a well-seasoned, dark brown stoneware bar pan from Pampered Chef, I skip the buttered foil, and place the crackers right on the bar pan.

**When I went to make this recently, I found myself without chocolate chips. Instead I melted 4 squares of unsweetened baking chocolate in a double boiler. I added about 1 cup of sugar to the squares. If doing this, I'd recommend putting 3/4 cup in, then adding a little sugar at a time, until it's to your liking. The chocolate was kind of grainy, so at my 11 year old daughter's recommendation (she's gonna' be a great cook someday!!) I added a bit of milk to the mixture...probably about 1-2 TB. That made it a bit creamier and helped with the texture. Once it was all melted, I poured it onto the butter/sugar crackers and spread it around. I liked doing it this way, as I had more control over the sweetness of the chocolate.

These are great little treats to bring to any event. As Susan said in her notes to me, they're "very easy and so good"!

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