Tonight, I will silently sit in a conference room and listen to 14 other people, professor included, tear my writing apart, section by section. Last week, I turned in the first chapter of the book I’ve been telling you about, the one I’m writing about my travels in Asia, the one which this post is an excerpt from. My peers had seven days to read through it, mark up the pages with red, blue or black ink (does it really matter – it all says the same thing), and then tell me, in writing, all the things I did well, and all the things I didn’t. Tonight, those written critiques will come at me verbally, like shards of glass to the ears.
I made a dessert to soften the blow.
Don’t get me wrong. Having my work critiqued is always beneficial, and I don’t like to send anything to an editor without first having others look at it. But never have I had it done in this fashion.
Tonight will be as though I’m not there. I’m not allowed to agree or disagree. I’m not allowed to back up my artistic decisions. I’m not allowed speak at all, until the end.
It’s intimidating. And, I’m excited. If you remember what I told you in my first post about cooking, I’m a little weird like that, because doing things that scare me, oddly manage to intrigue me. And in the end, no matter what fear I’m facing, I’m usually better off in the end.
With this in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to combine two classes into one, and use a cooking assignment for my Creativity course to bribe my workshop classmates to be kind. For the record, workshops have been occurring every Tuesday for the past three weeks and almost all of the other writers have brought snacks ranging from crescent rolls and hummus to cookies and bananas. None of them, might I add, made the critiques any less harsh.
Nevertheless, a bribe is now part of the ritual, and I’m not about to be the one to upset an expectant class on the night they give me feedback. I’ll enter with a tray of chocolate-covered, peanut butter Rice Krispies treats, otherwise known as Chocolate Scotcharoos. I slaved over the stove for all of 20 minutes last night (who said cooking I to take hours? Oh right, I did), stirring the sugar and Karo syrup to perfection before mixing in the peanut butter and cereal. When it came time to melt the chocolate chips, I ate half of one bag (click here to see why I hate cooking) and was forced to open another (I knew this would happen, so I bought two. My mother, still, hides the chocolate chips before I visit).
This was my grandmother’s recipe, and every female in my family has had their turn at trying. It’s not complicated in any sense of the word, and the most crucial thing to remember is not to overcook the syrup and sugar. Plus, always give the chocolate time to harden.
My cousin reminded me of these little tricks last night, and so far I think everything went as planned. It’s been years since I made Chocolate Scotcharoos – I tried once in China, but couldn’t find corn syrup anywhere, even in two international grocery stores – so the true taste test will come tonight in the form of a verbal critique.
When my peers take a sugary bite, I’ll hope their words come out just as sweet. Deep down, I know they can’t sugarcoat their thoughts (for they’re already on paper), and doing so wouldn’t be helpful to me anyway. However, I’m prepared to carry the leftover treats home with me afterward, to pair them with a bottle of red, and swallow their words whole.
Tomorrow, when I wake up feeling like crap, I’ll have a bottle of Malbec and an overdose of chocolate to blame, instead of the kind classmates who are simply trying to make me a better writer.
The creativity this week lies solely in my motivation for cooking. Finding that motivation is often hard to do, though it’s made easier by a grade looming over my head and a required blog post to follow suit.
Chocolate Scotcharoos are quick and simple, and though I didn’t once look at a recipe, I did ask my cousin for a brief reminder. That said, it was fun to watch the ingredients melt together, to become one, in a paste that will add five pounds to my waistline when paired with cereal and chocolate.
Chocolate Scotcharoos Recipe:
1 cup white sugar
1 cup Karo syrup
1 cup peanut butter (I always use Jiffy Reduced Fat)
6 cups Rice Krispies
1 bag chocolate chips (I used the dark chocolate variety)
Heat the sugar and corn syrup in a large pot until melted. Don’t cook too long. Add in the peanut butter and stir until blended. Remove from heat and stir in the cereal. Spread evenly in a greased 9×16 pan. Then, melt the chocolate chips (don’t burn – I’ve done this a few times) and layer the chocolate over the concoction. Let cool overnight, or place in freezer.
I wonder what it would be like to try brown sugar and to mix peanut butter chips with chocolate chips for the topping?
Have you ever cooked for a bribe? If so, what was it for?
Cooking with Purpose: Chocolate Scotcharoos to Sweeten a Public Critique