The tragic deaths in my family have been hard to cope with…life and its fragility has been hard to understand… and on many days, I want to tell myself that all this sadness doesn’t exist. I want to find myself in a world where mothers don’t die early, where friends remain close forever, where people don’t get sick and die. I drive home from work, and I watch all the people flying by in their cars. I wonder if they are sad and lonely. I wonder if they feel scared and frustrated. Do they tell themselves that none of this pain really exists? Do they lie to themselves in order to cope?
Without question, the last few months have been full of both sorrow and joy. There are moments that seem unbelievably good. But even on those days when the sun shines bright, I still can’t shake the deep sadness in my soul.
I remember playing video games with Noelle. We would sit in my parent’s bedroom and scream and squeal as we maneuvered Donkey Kong over flying barrels. On most days, Donkey Kong died at least a few times. But we were in a game, and so we could start over, again and again. Sometimes I wish I could hit that restart button in real life. On days like today, I would do anything to bring everyone back for one more try.
I’m reading a novel in which the main character finds a lump in her breast, and she knows immediately it’s cancer. Her mother died from the disease years ago…so she’s been through it, she knows the signs. But even though she feels that lump, she doesn’t want to go to the doctor. She can’t make herself walk through those hospital doors. Despite her body needing immediate medical attention, her soul isn’t ready to admit the frightening truth. She’d rather live in denial than save her life. To many, this decision might seem absurd. But as I sat reading in bed, with a bowl of cereal in my lap and Cricket purring at my feet, I cried. I knew that woman’s desire all too well. On many days, I don’t answer my phone in fear that I’ll get another dreaded phone call. On many nights, I tell myself that none of this pain is real, that everyone is all right.
But when I wake up in the morning and realize that my delusional thinking can only go so far...I have to find a way to live--holding both the pain and joy of life in my hands. I make French Toast with thin slices of strawberries and bananas. I take a long walk with Ryan, and then we laugh as Cricket pounces across our living room floor. I remember my sister each time I watch the Office. I walk through bakeries and dream up more delectable creations I can make at home.
Growing up, I ate graham crackers on many occasions. Noelle and I would snack on them after school (often while playing Donkey Kong). When I saw these on Smitten Kitchen, I knew I had to try them soon. When I was asked by Hershey's to post about their S'more campaign...I knew the time was right. I adapted Deb's recipe by adding cocoa powder. The result is a crunchy and complexly flavored graham cracker that would pair wonderfully with a thick marshmallow and a bar of chocolate.
I'll be posting again for Hershey in a few weeks...more S'mores to come! In the mean time, join in on their campaign.
The Hershey Company is encouraging families to create their own S’mores memories with the Say S’mores campaign. Starting June 16, families are invited to capture and share their favorite S’mores moments on the Hershey’s brand Facebook page at for a chance to win S’mores-themed prizes. The grand-prize is a Canon Rebel Camera, slate marble outdoor firebowl, $250 SnapFish gift card, roasting skewers set and all of the ingredients needed to make S’mores, including Hershey’sMilk Chocolate bars. Families who visit the Hershey’s brand Facebook page on or after June 15 can download the Say S’mores application to participate in monthly photo contests and receive a $1 coupon good toward the purchase of any two Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar 6-packs.
So if you're in the mood for some S'mores...check their page out! (It's worth it...I've won contests like this more often than you might think) And please try these graham crackers...at least once!
*This post is part of my participation in the Hershey’s “Say S’mores” Promotion. All opinions expressed are mine.
*Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen
Makes 10 4 x 4.5-inch graham crackers or 48 2-inch squares
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 TBSP Dutch process cocoa powder
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons milk, full-fat is best
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight. Meanwhile, prepare the topping, if using, by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and setting aside.
3. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. (I used a fluted cookie cutter to make my crackers...feel free to experiment!)
4. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Finally, gather any scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll. Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F.
5. Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough (again, this is for the traditional cracker shape). Using a toothpick or skewer prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line (or feel free to make shapes, like hearts!)
6. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.
Anecdotes and Apple Cores