Drew’s visit was a solid success. The guest room was clean and comfortable for an actual human guest, not just occupied by a cat randomly sitting on an errant pile of paper that has drifted onto the floor. I spent so much time focused on getting the house shipshape that my hostess game fell a little short in some areas, though.
For example I didn’t plan very well on the breakfast items. Since I’m not much of a breakfast person I just didn’t think about it. I can easily get by on two cups of coffee until noon (hmmm, is that why I am so grouchy sometimes in the mornings? maybe.) Breakfast is so rare in these parts that even when I make the most basic, boring toast I treat it as a special occasion with much Instagramming across the land. Next time I would probably buy some cereal and milk and muffins and stuff so that my hungry and slightly hung over guest won’t starve.
The pace of the weekend was intense and no one got much sleep but all kinds of good stuff can percolate in those conditions. We workshopped some business/life/philosophical stuff and chitchatted and did some shopping and introspection and cocktailing and found a great little beach where horses were allowed (!!!) and honestly, California is a never-ending surprise.
That is Point Mugu State Beach, located straight up PCH just past Leo Carrillo State Park/Beach. I had every intention of taking Drew to Leo Carrillo but I missed the turn and talk about a happy accident! This beach was much less crowded and there was ample, open parking (pay by the hour or by the day) and did I mention horses?
There were happy accidents like that all weekend, which I believe to be a side effect of being in the groove. I’m often able to overthink myself into a real pickle, but if I just let go and breathe and keep a good attitude, life always seems to go more smoothly.
We have a joke at work that I am not a “go with the flow” person. I am perhaps the opposite. Not only will I oppose going with the flow, I will actively build a dam to stop the flow so I can re-route the flow and build a majestic lake upstream where no flow has existed for 120 years. Yay me. So some of this weekend was an active exercise in not building dams.
In other news we had a hilarious first night that ended with THE BEST DESSERT OF ALL TIME. I’m not overselling it.
Drew and I share a love of goofy movies. One of the movies we both adore and have memorized line-by-line is the teenage version of All The President’s Men, called simply Dick.
If you ever meet the two of us at the same time and hear one us say, “I’m maintaining…” or “Dick frightens me…” you know we are in the zone and you should beware, because drinking has already started.
In the movie, the girls make a bunch of cookies for President Richard Nixon. The recipe is called Hello Dolly Bars and they have a fairly big role in the movie. Neither one of us have ever had these cookies but Drew decided we should make some on the first night of our visit so I bought all the stuff and found a recipe online.
The cookies have a special ingredient (which I did not add to our version) but aside from the “herb” they call for coconut, graham crackers, pecans (or walnuts), chocolate chips and condensed milk. And butter. That is all the ingredients. There’s no flour or baking soda or eggs or milk or anything.
To say my expectations were low is an understatement. You basically layer everything in a pan, bake it for 25 minutes and call it a day.
They were indescribably perfect. Literally the best dessert I have ever made and it makes enough to feed several hungry people for at least a long weekend.
Hello Dolly Bars
You need one 13×9 baking dish. Preheat the oven to 350F
- 2 sticks melted butter <— I had a typo here that said 12 sticks and for just a moment I was like, “Hmmm, that sounds amazing!” hehehehehe
- 3 cups graham cracker crumbs – we used one 14 oz. box of honey graham crackers, minus the two we ate
- 2 cups dark or semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 cups roughly chopped pecans or walnuts
- 2.5 to 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut (we used just over 2 cups and it was fine)
- One 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
Mush up the graham crackers into crumbs. Mix the graham cracker crumbs and the melted butter in a big bowl until pretty much evenly buttered. It will be dry and crumbly.
Pour the crumb/butter mix into a 13×9 baking dish. Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the dish using a big spoon or a spatula. You want it to be pretty flat.
Now, you layer on ingredients: evenly spread the chocolate chips over the crumbs, then add the nuts, then add the coconut.
Poke some holes in the top of the condensed milk can and drizzle the whole can evenly over the top of the coconut. Bake 25-30 minutes until the coconut on top is getting golden brown (we baked ours for 25 minutes, but probably could have gone 30 if I’d added foil over the dish at the end.)
The internet tells you to wait for them to cool before cutting but the internet is ridiculous. These are amazing warm and also delicious cold from the fridge the next day. How can something so easy be so delicious? How do those few ingredients cook together to make something so sublime?
“It brings up more questions than answers,” said Drew.
And that kind of sums up the whole weekend! ♥
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[Also, Hi! Apologies that this post is being uploaded five days late. I wrote it and saved it as a draft along with about seven hundred other draft posts because I keep waiting for a free minute to resize photos and finally I have accepted that moment won’t arrive until I am long dead and gone so here is the post on it’s appropriate draft day but posted many days later, also without a photo gallery. Go with the flow! –laurie ]