Two years after Barbara’s death, we who loved her want to mark the occasion in an appropriate way. The heading above just begins to list her many passions; as one friend noted, “Barbara was an enthusiast!” She was enthusiastic about her many hobbies — some of which originated in research she did for her books. She was enthusiastic about her family and friends, the state of the world, her beloved cats, chocolate — and oh, did we mention … gin? (surprisingly, not whiskey!)
“Confound it, Peabody,” Emerson shouted … “Drink your whiskey like a lady…” (from Seeing a Large Cat)
Since there isn’t much to Barbara’s recipe for a martini (wave the vermouth over the gin, add two ice cubes) (actually, just skip the vermouth part altogether) …. we thought we should honor the occasion with a different recipe, one that was passed down to Barbara by her mother, who got it from a beloved neighbor in Oak Park, Mrs. MacDonald. The aim of the recipe was to get as close as possible to the fabulous chocolate cookies that were obtainable at that time only from Marshall Field’s.
Mrs. MacDonald’s Frosted Chocolate Drop Cookies (per Barbara)
1/2 c. Spry (ok, the recipe’s a bit dated)* 1 egg 1 c. brown sugar 1.5 c. flour 1/2 c. sour milk (add a little vinegar to milk) pinch salt 1/2 t. soda vanilla 2 sq. chocolate, melted (or 3/8 c. cocoa)
DUMP IT ALL IN A BOWL AND BEAT. (Very typical Barbara rendition of a recipe) DROP FROM tsp. ONTO GREASED BAKING SHEET, BAKE 7-10 MIN. IN MODERATE OVEN.
FROST WITH CHOCOLATE ICING (a couple of squares melted chocolate plus conf. sugar and water. If you want to get fancy, add a little butter.) (No wonder this was so popular. Not much more work than a cake mix.)
This brings to mind one of Barbara’s favorite J.K. Rowling quotes: “Professor Lupin was breaking an enormous slab of chocolate into pieces. ‘Here,” he said to Harry, handing him a particularly large piece. ‘Eat it. It’ll help.'”
So, lift a cup of a genial beverage (your choice!) and have a bit of chocolate on Barbara. She would tell you that there is no woe that cannot be cured by the application of appropriate food and drink …. (or perhaps other remedies of a similar sort — more on that soon!)