Reconnecting

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I had lunch with an old friend this week, for the first time in twelve years.

It’s hard to say why it’s been so long.  Ruth’s been pursuing a demanding career on one side of the city, and I’ve been raising children and writing books on the other side.  When she left her job to start a consulting company this month, I suggested we meet for lunch.  What was it like to see her after all those years? The time flew by, we didn’t stop talking, and we promised ourselves the next lunch would be much sooner. 

Ruth and I met in Europe, both of us between university degrees and both on a Contiki tour for travellers between 18 and 35.  Although I went by myself, so did many of the others and meeting people was incredibly easy.  I kept a journal on that trip, and my first mention of Ruth was when a group of us went dancing one night in Rome.

Here’s what else Ruth and I shared on that trip:

1. She taught me one of my most important life skills ever – how to French braid my hair.
2.  While we were in Munich, we shared strawberries from the market (cool) and caramel sundaes from McDonald’s (not so cool).
3. We sang “Tales From the Vienna Woods” while we passed through those woods, likely to the annoyance of the rest of our tour group.  (I’m aware that “Tales From the Vienna Woods” has no actual lyrics, but that didn’t stop the performance.)
4.  We sang songs from The Sound of Music on our way to the photo op at the von Trapp gazebo.  Amazingly, no one kicked us off the bus.
5.  We posed for a picture together in the Netherlands wearing traditional Dutch costume.  Ruth looks adorable.  I look like a tourist posing in an ill-fitting Dutch costume.

I’m not posting that photo, but we’re both in the photo above, in a loft in Switzerland.  (I’m third from the left, Ruth is second from the right, and Jennifer, who lives in B.C. is on the far left.)  And here’s a photo from this week.


The other thing we’ve always shared is a love of sweets.  Ruth, I’m dedicating these Skor Bar Squares to you and to memories of Europe!


Skor Bar Squares (Caramel Crunch Bars)
(From Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours)

For the base:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 ounces premium-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped

For the topping:
6 ounces premium-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup toffee bits or chopped Skor bars

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly butter a 9 x 13” pan or line with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Beat the butter at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Add the sugars and beat for another 3 minutes, or until the mixture is light and creamy.  Beat in the vanilla, then turn off the mixer.  Add dry ingredients and stir by hand, just until they are almost incorporated.  Add the chopped chocolate and mix only until the dry ingredients disappear.  You’ll have a heavy, sticky dough.  Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and spread it into a thin, even layer.

Bake for 20 to 22 minutes.  Remove from oven and turn off the heat.  Scatter the 6 ounces chopped chocolate evenly over the hot base and put the pan back in the (still warm) oven for about 3 minutes, until the chocolate is soft.  Remove from the oven and immediately spread the chocolate over the bars, using the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle the toffee bits over the chocolate and press down lightly with your fingertips.  Let cool to room temperature, then remove from pan and cut into bars.

51 comments:

LDH said...

After all of those fun times together it is no wonder you re-connected so easily. Oh, all of the times I have French-braided the girls hair! That was back in the 90's! Recently I did the child I babysit. She loved it :)

The Caramel Crunch Bars look delicious!

Beth said...

Lorraine, my 14-year-old was asking me to teach her to French braid her hair yesterday. I guess some things never go out of style!

Valerie said...

It's always good to have someone to sing with. :)
What an adorable story! And what scrumptious-looking bars! (This recipe has been on my to-do list for quite some time.)

Barbara Jean said...

Oh my goodness - what a picture! I had forgotten I had a perm back then. (80's mistake) I am SO honoured to be the subject of one of your blogs Beth, you have no idea. I too have such fond memories of our trip, especially the strawberries in Munich (didn't we ditch the main tour and go off on our own that day?) and the Sound of Music gazebo. And of course many fond memories later on, including your wedding. Reconnecting with you was fun, and easy as do-re-mi!

Becky said...

Beth,
I have reconnected with friends, and it's just like the last time that you saw them yesterday, not 12 yrs ago. Love those Caramel Crunch Bars, something new to try.

bakewithjill.com said...

I can't remember off the top of my head whether I made those Caramel Crunch Bars. Too many recipes! It's so great that you were able to reconnect with your friend - it's amazing how easy it is to let the years slip by.

Joanne said...

What a happy Swiss bunch! And how wonderful to have that long and rich friendship with Ruth, I'll bet the lunch was fun :)

Lori said...

It really is amazing how so much time can pass yet you can still sit down and talk with friends like you saw each other yesterday. I have many relationships like that in my life and I truly appreciate them. These bars look amazing!

Claudia said...

When you make a connection - it doesn't go away. Would love top have been on a bus where people sang! The bars make me want to go back to Europe - particularly Austria.

Elaine said...

I am so glad that you got to visit with Ruth, Beth, and get caught up on each other's lives. It is so easy to get so wrapped up in out own lives that too much time passes before we get together with friends. I'm glad your visit with her brought back many happy memories for both of you. Your Skor bars look terrific!

Jess said...

I love friends like that~ where you can be apart for a long time and still connect so strongly :)

Three-Cookies said...

This sounds amazing, I haven't heard of skor bars but I am sure local versions exist here.

sally said...

How funny--I went on a Contiki trip when I was in college. It was a great trip and I met some really interesting people, but unfortunately I have not kept up with many of them. I'm glad you were able to have lunch with your friend from the trip. Your skor bars also look great!

Carol said...

That's a great friend, you can pick up right where you left off, like it was yesterday. The Skor bars look amazing!

Rosemary said...

The picture is priceless! And it makes me feel sad that I only see a very good college friend but once a year!

Baking Addict said...

How lovely to reconnect and a great recipe to share. It looks delicious!

Yummy said...

What a fantastic photo! I bet you had a great time!

tenaciouslyyours.com said...

Reconnecting with friends can be so overwhelming sometimes. Will you still "fit?" Will everything have changed and not in the right way? I'm so glad that you and Ruth had such a lovely gathering. Those are the sorts of moments that are blessings.

p.s. The knotty pine in that Swiss loft is priceless!

Rita said...

What a great trip down memory lane for you. Nothing beats getting back with our old friends; so special. This great recipe has to taste good.
Rita

Bonnie said...

It is wonderful to have a friend with whom you share such wonderful memories. I love meeting up with an old friend and find that conversation melts the time. Bonnie

shaz said...

How wonderful that you got to reconnect with Ruth. Love the photos, and my goodness those bars look delectable.

lisa is cooking said...

What a great way to meet, and that's so nice that you were able to catch up again. Those caramel crunch bars look delicious! I have to try those.

Jill | Dulce Dough said...

How fun to meet up with an old friend! And what a fantastic bar to dedicate to her!

Pam said...

Reconnecting with old friends is wonderful. The bars look amazing!

Sarah said...

It's so great to be able to reconnect with an old friend and amazing how quickly you can pick right back up where you left behind. Oh and the bars sound totally fantastic!

Joanne said...

It's always so great to reconnect with old friends. Sounds like you had a great time! And these bars...I'm a sucker for anything caramel. Need to try.

Elisabeth said...

Yummy crunch bars...great post, love the photos. So nice to reconecct with old friend, regardless how much time passes by!
Loved reading your post, Beth:DDD

Simply Life said...

sounds like it was a nice lunch- and those bars look fabulous!

Pacheco Patty said...

Very sweet photos and memories! How nice you can reconnect with your dear friend and pick up where you left off. Thanks for sharing the bars, I have the cookbook so I will check them out, don't you love that baking cookbook?

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Yummy!!!!

I almost went on a Contiki vacation in university, just before I spent the summer working in Finland. In the end, I skipped on the tour, and traveled around Finland instead. Not that it was my first, second, or tenth time there. But it was the first time I'd traveled around Finland without my parents.

Jeanne said...

Reconnecting is always fun. That sounds like a heck of a trip that you guys went on! And the Skor bars are calling my name...

Katerina said...

Now these memories are priceless Ruth and I believe youngsters must have experiences like the ones you had. They broaden their horizons. Getting back together with an old friend is such fun and makes you kind of returning back in time! The sweet is the perfect treat for such an event!

Becki Jacobs said...

That's awesome that you kept a journal so that you can recall these memories (the good and the bad:-)). These bars sound wonderful - I just love Skor bits. I have that cookbook - I'm surprised I have never made these before. They sound great!

Barbara said...

So much fun to spend time with old friends...when I do, it's as though we're merely continuing our conversation. Fun post and great recipe, Beth!

julie said...

What a wonderful friend you have in her; I can tell she means a lot to you and vice versa. I love that old picture of you all! These bars look like pure heaven in a handheld form.

Mary said...

True friendships are like that. 12 years later and you can just pick back up where you were. I love it. Hopefully it won't be another 12 before you meet for lunch again.

grace said...

here's a poser--what's the difference between skor and heath? i've never known. both are amazing, and so are these bars! incidentally, french braiding is a very important skill! :)

Beth said...

Grace, that's a great question. I think they're pretty similar, but as they don't sell Heath bars in Canada I can't be sure. Any time I see a recipe that calls for Heath bars, I substitute Skor bars and that's always worked out fine! I must remember to buy a Heath bar the next time I'm in the U.S. - for comparison purposes, of course.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Nice story - glad you got to see your friend again. It's awful the way time slips away from us, isn't it? I think we all get too busy to do some of the things that we'd like to. Anyway, nice recipe. I like crunchy, and who can resist chocolate and toffee? Not me! Thanks for this.

nancy at good food matters said...

Your lovely story reminds me that, with true friendships, time doesn't matter. Time also moves more quickly than we realize--a great impetus to keep the connections. What a yummy dessert!

Cajunlicious said...

I love friends like that! It's always so great reconnecting!

Angie's Recipes said...

I thought you were the 2nd one from the left...;-)

The toffee bar looks splendid.

Miriam said...

I can't wait to make those bars! And such lovely memories with a friend, love that :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Medeia Sharif said...

What great experiences and a history between you two. This makes me want to reconnect with a few people who I lost contact with for one reason or another.

Kristen said...

It's so nice to hear of friends reconnecting. I have moved so much in my life and lost contact with SO many people it isn't funny.

Those skor bars are something else. They sound decadent and wonderful!

Belinda said...

I LOVE that old photo!! Nothing beats good old friends. Even willing to share those bars with them!

Belinda said...

I LOVE that old photo!! Nothing beats good old friends. Even willing to share those bars with them!

Lizzy said...

Love these bars almost as much as the old photo :)

elephanteats.com said...

wow these bars sound amazing!

Lynne said...

How great to meet up with an old friend-glad you had fun! I love photo in the loft in Switzerland and the Skor squares look delicious. I missed that one in BFMHTY. The new group BWJ is going to be fun to be in as I have had the book for years, but never made many recipes from it. I'll be going to Geneva in April so looking forward to that. I love reading your travel posts. Cheers!

comfortablydomestic.com said...

Reconnecting with friends is so wonderful when it seems like no time has passed. Glad you had such a wonderful afternoon. And seriously? I'm questioning how the rest of the bus-load was *not* singing The Sound of Music on the way to the van Trapp gazebo.

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