Early last month I found myself at a neighbor’s pied-à-terre for a small Post Holiday We Never Celebrated New Years Together And Needed To Unwind Party (a.k.a. Friday Night). A much-needed swig of the moonshine jar and a sampling of pimento cheese helped pass our time as we recounted our crazy holiday family stories.
I started chatting with my new upstairs neighbor, Bobby (names naturally changed). Turns out Bobby is from Iowa. That square plot of land south of my home state and happens to be home to the world’s largest ball of popcorn (worth a drive, trust me).
And so we began our discussion of Midwest Life and opened a small aching wound of homesickness that I assumed would pass as quickly as the pimento cheese.
Oddly, the next day while thumbing through Goodreads a book jumped out at me: Kitchens of the Great Midwest: A Novel by J. Ryan Stradal grabbed my attention like a new release on Netflix.
After downloading my copy, I soon found myself deep in the story of Eva, a child of a chef and sommelier, who finds herself in a less than perfect food situation when taken in by extended family.
Through the eyes and stories of others, we learn what happens to Eva as she grows into a chef. From her early days in midwestern Mexican restaurants to charging $5000 a head at dinner parties, Eva’s story is varied and tasteful. Stradal sprinkles his novel with actual recipes from his home state of Minnesota giving us a full menu to eat/read along with.
Now, I read recipes like some people read Buzzfeed (with full rapture and awe) so when I came across his recipe for Pat Prager’s Peanut Butter Bars I had to make them. Like many Midwest-based bars (not drinking establishments but desserts bars) Pat Prager’s Peanut Butter Bars are simple and can be whipped up in a jiff if the local pastor stops by for a round of euchre.
Side note before I give you the recipe: I kept my bars in the fridge after making them. Over the course of a week I ate the whole pan. Sometimes it was a quick bite in the middle of the night. Sometimes it was a whole row after a tough day at the office. Make them. Maybe share them. Just maybe.
Pat Prager’s Peanut Butter Bars
- 2 1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
- 1 cup melted Grade A butter
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup milk chocolate chips with 1 teaspoon Grade A butter
1. Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, peanut butter, and sugar. Pat into a greased 9-by-13 inch pan.
2. Melt the chips and butter and spread them on top of the bars.
3. Set in the refrigerator until firm. Cut into bars.
Fellow midwesterners, what are your favorite recipes? I also love a good lemon bar!