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Squares are my downfall

While shopping at the local grocery store a few weeks ago, I met a friend I haven’t seen in years. We asked each other about our kids and family life, and she commented that she follows our family adventures through our monthly column in the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript. She can’t believe we are farming and living such a simple life.

She then looked down into my grocery cart, spying my big bag of potato chips, and said, “Oh, thank goodness, you eat bad things! I was thinking about you all eating fresh, homemade food and I was feeling bad about myself.”

I told her that I do have my weaknesses and that potato chips are one of them.

Even though I try to eat healthily, I still have times when I don’t eat what I should. But I think that is OK. I try not to focus on that too much. I am conscious about what I eat and am only eating not-as-healthy food once in a while. I also strongly believe that food should not be considered a “treat” or a reward. I don’t think a treat or reward should be associated with something that is not good for you. A new book or a facial is a treat, not junk food that will make you feel bad in the long-run.

I will now jump off my soapbox and land right smack-dab in the middle of the Christmas holidays. This is a time when all good eating rules go out the window. People load up on sweets and fattening food because of tradition. I am no exception.

Growing up my mother used to make a chocolate square, called a “Tweedie Square.” It’s a chocolate-chip cake base, with a layer of butter and sugar, and then a final layer of butter and chocolate. She only made this dessert at Christmastime. Good thing, too, because I could stuff myself silly eating the whole pan within a few days. At one point, she even hid a pan in the freezer, and my friend, Sarah, and I snuck little slices off the sides in the hopes that she wouldn’t notice.

Now as an adult, I rarely make these squares at Christmas, because I have no self-control. I couldn’t even make these squares to take a picture for this column. I did make them last year for friends and received rave reviews. I spent the following days finishing up the leftovers. There may have been some scraping around the edges of the pan to catch all the remaining bits, but I can’t be 100 percent sure about that. I called my mother to get the exact measurements for the recipe in preparation for this column, and she said, “Oh no, you can’t make these all the time. You would gain 50 pounds, if you ate them constantly…that is if you have self-control.” Ahem.

If you are looking for a new chocolate square to add to your holiday table this year, this would be it. As my sister, Kathleen says, “ If you are going to eat sweets, it may as well be homemade sweets.” Just remember, eat in moderation and make sure you buy local, farm-raised carrots, potatoes and ham for the rest of your meal.

Tweedie Squares

Cake base

½ cup real butter

2/ 3 cup sugar

1½ cup flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

½ cup milk

1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 eggs whites

Cream butter and sugar together.

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Then add to the butter and sugar mixture, alternating with the milk. Add the chocolate chips. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until fluffy, and gently fold into the chocolate-chip mixture.

Pour into a greased 9” square pan. Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool completely in the pan. You will leave the cake in the pan for the next two steps. You can cover the cake and place in the refrigerator until later or the next day.

Middle layer

Cream ½ cup of butter with leftover egg yolks and add 2 cups of icing sugar. Beat well, and spread evenly onto the cooled cake base.

Top layer

Melt two 1-oz squares of semisweet baker’s chocolate with 2 tablespoons of butter and spread on top of the middle layer.

Let the whole dish rest in the refrigerator until the chocolate has hardened. Cut into the desired sized squares, and enjoy.

Kim Graham lives in Dublin. Her column, “Starting from Scratch,” appears monthly in the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript. For more about her Oxbow Farm, see www.oxbowfarmnh.com. She can be reached at grahamkimberly1@mac.com.

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