We all met in new York City last week for my daughter's birthday. There is nothing quite like the Big Apple in November. It snowed the morning we left to come home, a treat for a Florida transplanted Michigander. Of course, I do remember this: there are only two times snow is beautiful: the first snow, when it really doesn't stick, and the first really heavy snow which makes everything clean and fresh. The rest of the time, yuk, no thank you. Slush, black ice, salted roads leaving you with dirty cars, treacherous driving, layered clothing and cold houses.
But right now, the trees are golden yellow and the air is brisk, making window shopping a treat. Someone ought to tell everyone up there that the economy is bad! The city was packed, the restaurants were jammed and everywhere we went people were shopping and carrying a multitude of shopping bags. In Florida, the malls are empty and you have no problem getting reservations at restaurants. That might change when the snowbirds arrive, but I doubt it. My daughter said: "These are probably not New Yorkers, they are visitors- coming to do their Christmas shopping." She may be right, but the economy is bad everywhere. It was a puzzle. The last hurrah?
Getting there was not easy either. Spirit canceled my son's flight from Detroit for some unknown reason and they had to hustle to find another, making them waste an entire day when they only had two days to begin with. It was their daughter's first trip to NYC. What a shame; she really missed some important landmarks in the city, but we crammed in as much as we could. They had actually boarded and were told to get off. The pilots marched off too. And our flight from Florida was delayed by 2 hours, making us arrive midway through the first family "reunion" dinner. Something about the FAA delaying flights so too many aren't landing at the same time. It's no fun to fly anymore.
My Michigan family is to coming to Florida for Thanksgiving this weekend. (I am keeping my fingers crossed because they booked on Spirit again- many months ago.) They always insist upon having Denison Chocolate Squares in the freezer for snacks. These are bar cookies I named after my good friend Mary Denison; we both enjoyed cooking and took some fun classes together at what was then the Wilson estate- Meadow Brook Hall- in Rochester, Michigan.
An interesting story worth telling, Meadow Brook Hall actually is the fourth largest historic house museum in the United States and is renowned for its superb craftsmanship and architectural detailing. It was built between 1926 and 1929 as the residence of Matilda Dodge Wilson (widow of auto pioneer John Dodge) and her second husband, lumber broker Alfred G. Wilson. The 110-room, Tudor-revival style mansion is complete with vast collections of original art and furnishings. In 1957, the Wilsons donated their residence, its collections, the estate's 1,500 acres and $2 million to found what would become Oakland University.
The kitchens of Meadow Brook Hall were old world charming. A fun and perfect setting for a series of cooking lessons! This little gem was one of two recipes given to us during a session on bar cookies. No baking, kids would love to help make them and they freeze beautifully.
Denison Chocolate Squares
Ingredients:1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons good quality cocoa
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding
4 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
Method:Melt the butter and add the sugar, cocoa, egg and vanilla. Cook over medium heat like a soft custard, stirring constantly. This will only take a few minutes. Remove from heat, add the graham crackers and nuts. Press into a rectangular pan and cool completely. Cream the butter, sugar, milk and vanilla pudding mix. Pour onto the graham cracker crust and spread evenly. Refrigerate until just set. Touch your finger to the top; if the topping does not stick to your finger, it is ready. Melt the chocolate with the butter and spread over the topping. Refrigerate until the chocolate is barely set (use the finger test again) and then cut lightly into squares. If you wait too long the chocolate will crack when you cut it. Refrigerate again, cut deeper into squares, refrigerate or freeze.