…you can create summer.
When I was young, we used to go up to a neighbour’s cottage regularly. The cottage was located on a tiny rock of an island in the middle of a lake and had no electricity or running water. Everything you needed had to be ferried in by boat, which meant that if it didn’t fit in the boat, it didn’t come to the cottage.
Everything had been ferried out this way, even the construction materials and furnishings, which meant that most of the furnishings were either built on site (like the bunk beds, tables, and bench seating that could double as beds on the screened-in porch) or it was purchased in a small enough size that it could fit in the boat. And, since there was no electricity, everything that required a power source of some sort had to either run off a battery or off propane, big tanks of which would be ferried out at the start of every stay.
The kitchen was small and cozy, with an undersized fridge and stove powered by propane and a sink for doing dishes, though you had to haul the water up from the lake and boil it first if you wanted warm water. Cooking was a communal affair if only because everyone had to pitch in, cooking, hauling water for dishes, setting the table, and occasionally improvising as we realized we were out of some essential ingredient and didn’t have the hour to spare to run the boat down the lake to the next nearest town with a general store.
And yet, despite these limitations, we still managed to bake treats like brownies and banana bread regularly. My job was to make Rice Krispie squares. As sure as the sun would rise in the mornings, at some point during our stay at the cottage, my mother would call me into the kitchen and announce that It Was Time, meaning Andrea, Make Some Rice Krispie Squares. I would carefully light the burner on the old propane stove (we had an electric stove at home, so this whole cooking with fire thing felt deliciously dangerous), start a quarter cup of butter melting in a pan, measure out 6 cups of Rice Krispies into a large bowl, and start carefully counting out the marshmallows. You need exactly 40 large marshmallows for Rice Krispie squares, you see, and I was the kind of child who wouldn’t tolerate having only 39 or maybe 41, so they would get counted out into the pot one by one. Finally, the counting done, it was time to stir and stir and stir some more, and only once every last marshmallow had lost every trace of its original shape and joined into a smooth sauce, scrape every last drop into the bowl of Rice Krispies and stir until the marshmallows have coated the cereal and the spoon pulls out gossamer strings of sticky marshmallow with each pass.
My mother could just as easily have made them herself, probably faster (she’s like mad crazy lightening in the kitchen) and definitely with less mess, but she never, ever did. At the cottage, Rice Krispie squares were my domain exclusively from the day I first learned to make them, and as I don’t recall my brother having been born yet, I was still fairly young when she taught me how. It did such wonderful things for my sense of self, for my sense of accomplishment, for my sense of being able to tackle anything I wanted to.
And every time I make them, I can’t help but think of that rickety propane stove at the cottage and the boat trip into town to buy the ingredients and the sheer joy of feeding my family a well loved treat that I had made with my very own two hands.
Today, I am not going to make Rice Krispie squares. Today, I’m going to teach my kids how, and from now on, it will be their job, not mine.
Have I given you a craving for making some of your own?
Start by melting 1/4 cup of butter and add 40 large marshmallows, stirring constantly over low heat until it looks like so:
Next, take a good sized bowl and fill it half full of Rice Krispies cereal (about 6 cups):
Pour the melted marshmallow mixture into the bowl and stir and stir and stir some more, then press the ooey-gooey mess into a lightly buttered pan:
Let cool on the counter, cut into squares, and enjoy.