Sydney was my neighbor in The 'Shire and became my confidante, my purveyor of fine food and beverage, my guru & reference to all things Upper Valley (including a vast number of its' residents, as she knows at least 85% of the people that live there) - and my inspiration to start this blog.
Before I met her, I had this (weird) fear of cooking, of the kitchen and of my skillz (or lack thereof) in this area of the home. Basically it was analysis paralysis: I was over-thinking it and being way too hard on myself.
Sydney's kitchen is the first room you enter (after you pass through of the mud room area). It features a bay window with a lovely view of the yard area, pine trees,
It also has a groovy tableau off the of the end of the counter with two, wooden, saddle-style stools. She has a tendency to
While being a self declared WASP (of the highest magnitude, I must say with a hint of admiration), she gives the "Little Jewish Mother" stereotype a run for the money. For when there is another person in her sphere, in direct proximity of her kitchen, Sydney literally cannot stop herself from pulling out a myriad of light snacks. Nuts, cheeses, fruit, crackers, etc. are always at the ready, as are a variety of adult (and non-adult) beverages.
|We were cooking, which accounts for the cutting board, pancetta & knife in the bottom left-hand corner. |
But a little idea of the snack tableau, complete with adult bev in bottom right-hand corner.
Her effortlessness - and ease - in this room made a huge impression on me <clearly> and the influence carried across our shared wall into my own groovy, little kitchen where I started to experiment. Since it was "just me" (no spouse <sad face>), if I didn't like something I tried, I could just toss it - and no one would ever know! I gathered ingredients that I thought might be tasty, and threw them together.
I'll be honest, I made some real stinkers. My first attempt to roast beets - which, who the hell knew I even *liked* beets until I met Sydney - was hilariously disastrous. But the endeavor took some of the fear out of this magical room that had mystified and paralyzed me up to this point.
I really do like boys, most specifically Spouse (I mean, he's just.so.cute!). But honestly, I
I have other soul sisters in my life - I am very, very, very, very, very, very lucky in that regard and they will be in future posts, from time to time, but at this point in my life's story, Sydney & my other Upper Valley peeps are upper-most in my daily thoughts. If it wasn't for them, if it wasn't for my time in The 'Shire, I wouldn't feel as comfortable in my kitchen - and myself - as I do today.
Which leads me to the very first food stuff Sydney shared with me, and where the soul sister crush began: Coralyn's Toffee Saltines.
I do not know who Coralynn is or even if it's someone in Sydney's family. Guess I should ask. Owel.
Coralyn's Toffee Saltines
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 sleeves of saltines
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 bag chocolate chips (12 oz)
- chopped walnuts for garnish
|I broke some crackers in half so they would fit the whole sheet.|
|Meltin' the butter and sugar....yummy.|
|Melted sugar & butter dispersed over the saltines|
|Toffee bubblin' in mah oven! So pretty...|
|Cooling after it's been in mah oven. It's super liquidy after you take it out so crackers shifted...|
|Melted chocolate chips dispersed on top and about to hit the frig to chillax.|
Notes on my preparation
- I used Pam and it did really help with removal as my toffee still got foil stuck to it (which I gently pried out before giving to anyone to eat - jeez!) so can't imagine what would have happened if I hadn't taken that step.
- I used natural cane sugar instead of granulated white sugar so it took a few minutes longer to melt in the butter, maybe 5 minutes.
- In addition to vanilla extract, I also used a skosh of King Arthur's Princess Cake and Cookie Bakery Emulsion. This $hit is the bomb for baked goods - and a little dash will do ya!
- I used Ghiradelli semi-sweet chips and added some extra vanilla and a little milk to the chocolate chips, while they were melting. It seemed to help the consistency & melting process.
- I did not use any nuts but I can see where that might be tasty.
In talking with a work buddy, we decided these would also be awesome if you used a more buttery cracker (like Ritz or Townhouse) OR throw all caution to the wind and go for a thin layer of baked sugar cookie or shortbread dough. I may have to experiment with these ideas. I do make a mean shortbread <pats self on back>.
Do you have a go-to, quick sweet treat that you like to make?
Smell ya later, peeps.