Thursday, August 05, 2010

What makes summer feel like summer?

I’ve not been able to put out chronicles for a while and decided that when the syllables are ready to come, the words will skip off the keyboard just like they always do. I appreciate the requests for the chronicle blips and I hope those who enjoy the words will hang with me a little longer.

The last few weeks, I’ve been swept up in the distraction of car cooking. I used to make dashboard s’mores with preschoolers during summer camps. I drove a big ass van at the time with a big ass dash, so a cookie sheet sat very nicely on that space and the sun shared its heat without even being asked.

The preschoolers layered the grahams , chocolate,and marshmallows on board and we all walked out to put our goods in the “oven”. A while later- the marshmallows puffed up, and we sealed the deal with a graham on top. The squish of the bite was second only to bonfire s’mores. The children were intrigued, and I enjoyed watching them buy into the magic of car cooking.

This year, after the closets had been cleaned out, and my drawers were reorganized and prepped for fall;when staff vacations were in full swing, and I was the primary and sometimes only one here,well, somewhere in there I lost my focus. I began craving chocolate and marshmallows and I needed a little fun. I wanted to see if car cooking was as much fun as I remembered. Last year, I shared the idea with one of the preschools here, so that didn’t count. What would it be like to car cook for adults?

The s’mores were pretty much inhaled by those who were at work that day and a stream of youth came by to gobble up the rest. I appreciated the fact that my co workers allowed me the luxury of a little play in my day.

I knew they were humoring my whimsy….but they sure didn’t seem to mind sampling the wares, either.

We were swept into a heat wave for a while, and I used the time to the fullest with dashboard delicacies. Front seat marshmallow treats went well. Easier than making rice krispy treats at home, I’d say. A coworker- at the time a bit of a nonbeliever, came with me to check on them and as she poured the krispies and cheerios in while I stirred. ..she was sold.

My boss came in one day asking me what was on the volkswagon menu and I took that as permission to try new things. He suggested something with pretzels.

Polka dot knots were born next- pretzels with white chocolate and dark chocolate chips melted in them went over well, and those were made while I was borrowing my daughter’s Passat. Nice to know there is versatility in this cooking method. I knew my car would cook. It cooks me every time I get into it, but I didn’t know if a light colored car would work. Now I know.

Buckle-up buddies came next. I had errands to run at lunch, so I buckled up the metal mixing bowl (primary car cooking utensil)in the passenger side, put the peanut butter, butter, and chocolate chips in and off we went. I parked in the sunniest spots I could find while I was out and about and made sure to aim my front oven window right towards “Mr. Sun, sun, Mr. Golden sun (who) please (did) shine down on me.” When I got back to work, a friend helped me add the chex and another held open the gallon bag that had confectioner’s sugar in it. We loaded up the bag, sealed it and shook the heck out of it. Those went over so well, we did it again the next day.

Yesterday, Cabrio clusters made their debut. Overcast, but still hot…..hmmmm… I left the bag of butterscotch morsels in their own home bag, and placed the bag in the bowl alongside a group of Chinese noodles who were ready for the cabrio cooking challenge. When I checked later, it took only a quick snip of the bag and the melted morsels ran into the bowl and covered the Chinese noodles like lava. A passer -by held the bowl while I stirred them all together. They are but a memory now.

I decided it was time to expand the menu, so today we went right into main course fare. I brought an aluminum vegetable grilling sheet with me and placed some bread on it, then laid it on the dash of the Cabrio. A while later I flipped the slices and lined the bowl with tomatoes, nature’s seasoning, and grated cheese. Pimento cheese went on a couple of slices. In a bit, a friend came with me to check the outdoor kitchen and everything was ready. We transferred the tomato melts onto the toast and came inside. A dollop of Dukes Mayonnaise made mine perfect.

Just as I finished my dashboard delight, one of the pastors came irrrrrkkkking in. “Am I too late?” she asked, exasperated. My mouth full of the last bite, I nodded. Her body fell into a let-down-slump. Don’t you just hate to disappoint your customers?

One of the pastors was leaving and asked what was next and I told her we were making Nachos with homemade cheese sauce tomorry. She said, “I’m not here tomorry, please don’t deprive me of that delicacy.” So I won’t . The nachos will have to wait. Well, maybe we’ll take a practice run with them tomorry.

Don’t know if this is a one season pony or if we’ll try to keep at it, but the distraction of the Cabrio confections has made this hot time of year feel a little more like summer- used-to-be. Don’t we all need a little of that at times? The activity has also kept a sense of community growing. Facebook friends have been interested and supportive. Work church members and staff have participated and enjoyed the results of their labors. Aren’t those good things?

This morning I thought to myself, “Self, I think you have a knack for distracting. Finding distractions during challenging times.” Self answered. “Yep. You’ve had a few of those, and you do tend to seek out random activities that sometimes seem to balance out those moments. I’m thinking that may not be such a bad thing if it brings good energy about.”

Well, I can’t say if that self awareness is good or bad. I think it just is.

So, what makes summer –summer? I think for me, a splash of serendipity goes a long way to cool a hot day. My Cabrio is all about that. Whether leaves, dirt, furniture or fruit, my cabrio carries a tin of serendipity in the trunk . Right next to the metal cooking bowl.

Maybe I’ll create a travel car-cook kit so other folks can enjoy cooking while stranded on the side of the road, or when stuck in heavy traffic. Hmmm. Hmmmmm. Just hmmmm.


Gretchen Staebler said...

CLC is baaaaack! I hope to stay for a while. LingOL! And past my bedtime, too. But it popped up just as I was ready to close out. Had to read it!

Anonymous said...

Great that you are making good use of all the heat! We had our 22nd swim before breakfast and counted our blessings. Your treats sound delicious! Loonygin

Brittany said...

I'm reading this on our first 100 degree day of the summer (it's been strange out here on the West Coast this summer) and wondering if I have enough chocolate for Race Car s'mores. Yum! Welcome back!