The Day I Drove 50 Miles for 1/2 Cup of Coconut
My contribution to the family’s Thanksgiving dinner was a batch of cherry bars. I found the recipe that was originally my sister-in-law’s, in my binder of favorite recipes. Seeing her handwritten cards brought back images of holidays past, when we were all living in Michigan and the cousins were still children. Now the cousins are grown with children of their own but the family traditions, mostly food, continue.
When my mom was the one cooking the holiday dinners, we always had turkey for Thanksgiving and ham for Christmas and they were the dinners I made when my family was young. To this day, it doesn’t feel like a “real” Thanksgiving without turkey and stuffing, or a “real” Christmas without ham and sweet potatoes.
Over the years, the crowd grew at mom and dad’s to include orphaned friends – those people whose family was either too far away to visit, or who didn’t have any family. Those were the dinners I always set a standard by.
This year my step-son did the cooking and had asked me to bring the cherry bars. Because of work schedules we were celebrating Thanksgiving on Friday. Thursday morning I started getting ready to make the cherry bars, opened the cupboard door and found there was no coconut. That couldn’t be. I looked again, knowing but not believing there was no coconut. I stood there staring at the empty place where it should be.
As first I was irritated. For heaven’s sake. Then I accepted the fact and knew what I had to do. Being Thanksgiving Day the nearest open grocery store was 25 miles away. I put on my shoes and coat, grabbed my keys and got in the car. An hour and 20 minutes later I was back in my kitchen.
The new jar of maraschino cherries that I’d bought last week didn’t want to open. I rummaged in the utensil drawer and took out my handy-dandy E Z grip jar opener. I held the jar against my thigh and gave the E Z grip jar opener a twist. Cherry juice spilled down the leg of my jeans, onto the kitchen rug and the floor. My cat Izzy, who is always at my feet when I’m cooking – hoping something will fall her way – started licking the sweet syrup off the rug. I knew she would work up to a huge hairball if I didn’t stop her soon. I folded up the rug, much to her dismay and tossed it into the basement to be washed later. I filled the sink with soapy water and wiped down the floor. Cherry bars are easy to make and they should’ve been cooling on the counter by now.
Luckily nothing else happened, the cherry bars were delicious and there weren’t any left to bring home. It’s a good thing I sampled two – no make that three- before taking them to dinner Friday.
Here is the recipe and be sure to have coconut on hand:
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
½ cup cold butter
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 c white sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup coconut
½ cup quartered maraschino cherries
DIRECTIONS: Pastry Crust – Line an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving 3 to 4 inches overhang on opposite sides. This will allow you to lift the cookies out of the pan to cut. In a shallow bowl, combine flour and confectioners’ sugar. Dice cold butter into the bowl and cut in with a pastry blender until mixture looks like pea-size crumbs. Pour mixture into baking dish. Spread evenly with fingers and lightly press into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
Return to oven and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool and lift from pan. Cut into squares. Makes about 18 cookies. Note: I usually look over a recipe before I start to see if there is any chopping, dicing, slicing, etc. that needs to be done. I do it first so that when I get started all that’s left to do is to add the ingredients.