Crummy Day? Try Adele and Dessert

Zoe's 7-Layer Cookie Bars

Since I started blogging a couple of weeks ago, I haven’t had a single culinary adventure.  One of my hopes was that creating this site would inspire me to try new restaurants around town and experiment more often in my well-equipped home kitchen.  So far, I’ve only been to familiar favorites like Oasis for falafel or El Paso for the best burrito in Iowa.  And at home, I’m embarrassed to say, I’ve only made a few turkey sandwiches, some whipped cauliflower and snacked on rice cakes smeared with peanut butter.  While I’m being completely honest here, I should also point out that I haven’t made a legitimate grocery run in over a month.  A MONTH!   I’m so ashamed.  But, in my defense, I’ve been fighting flu symptoms for about a week now and haven’t been able to taste or smell much of anything.  What’s the fun in eating when you can’t taste it?

The height of my sickness came Tuesday when I was sick to my stomach all day and my entire body ached.  Luckily, I had the night off from work, so I stayed in bed, drank loads of hot tea, and watched Midnight Cowboy (1969 classic with John Voight and Dustin Hoffman that won a Best Picture Oscar) before falling asleep for nearly twelve hours.  When I got out of bed Wednesday morning my stomach pain had vanished, but I was suffering from a horrendous sinus headache and my eyes had completely crusted over. (Sorry for that gruesome detail.)  I couldn’t breath through my nose and I was still rather achy.  Once I washed the crust from my eyes, I put the kettle on for another round of tea, turned on my electric blanket and popped in Adele: Live from Royal Albert Hall from a stack of Blu-rays I picked up recently.  The kettle howled impatiently.  With tea in hand, I curled up (the best a fat man can) under that warm fleece throw and proceeded to medicate myself with the mind-melting, soul-stimulating, ever-emotional power of a woman’s voice.

Adele is a freak.  I don’t mean freak in the overtly negative deformed serial killer kind of way, but in the incredibly rare, awe-inspiring, can’t believe how good she is kind of way.  She is so young, and yet overflowing with talent and charisma.  She has written the majority of the songs she’s recorded, absolutely nailed the covers she’s done, and proven herself to be much more than an overly-enhanced studio byproduct.  She’s a brilliant live performer and delightfully witty on stage.  In case you haven’t picked up on it, I’ve developed a great deal of respect and quite a crush on the young superstar.  Today, she was just the medicine I needed to motivate me off the couch, where I lay in misery, and onto campus for Symphony Band rehearsal.  Unfortunately, rehearsal took a lot out of me and by the time I got back home, I was in desperate need of a nap before work.

After a couple hours in bed, I got up feeling only marginally better.  My headache had dissipated, but thanks to having two clogged nostrils, my throat was feeling pretty sore.  But being the exemplary employee that I am, missing work never crossed my mind.  I sluggishly washed my butt, shaved my face and covered myself in clothing.  I dragged myself to the car and got to work one minute before my shift was to start.  The long walk from the parking lot to the front desk gave me plenty of time to think about how much my throat hurt, how my nose required repeated doses of Afrin in order to do anything other than slow leak ooze onto my unsuspecting mustache, and how hungry I was since I’d forgotten to eat anything earlier in the day.  Then, as I was laboring to remove my coat, one of our new employees, Zoe, presented me with a translucent red container.

Atop this container was a post-it note reading: For Aaron =).  And neatly tucked inside this Rubbermaid treasure chest was an ample allotment of perfectly square confections; a baker’s dozen, at least, of Zoe’s 7-layer Cookie Bars.  This decadent dessert consists of semisweet chocolate, white chocolate and butterscotch chips nestled in a layer of sweetened condensed milk, atop a buttery graham cracker base – all topped with chopped nuts and a healthy sprinkling of lightly toasted coconut.  [Actual photo above] One bite of this concoction is enough to satisfy the typical sweet-tooth and more than two bites is nothing short of a Satanic miracle.  Although I’m not the biggest lover of desserts, this surprise treat was a major game-changer.  Even before taking a bite of these, I couldn’t help but feel a little better.  It was so wonderfully sweet of Zoe to make these for the crew at work, and even more sweet that she set some aside for me (she did this to thank me for giving her car a jump last week).

If you want to make this delicious dessert for yourself or someone special, here is a similar recipe I found online.  I’m not sure if it’s exactly the same as Zoe’s, but it appears to have the same ingredients: http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2009/06/17/seven-layer-bars/

If you don’t already own all of Adele’s albums and concert films, I suggest you start investing.  She’s a wonderfully special artist.

And for any of you who aren’t feeling 100%, I recommend a healthy dose of Adele, and a few bites of an insanely sinful dessert made by someone sweet.

Aaron Gaither

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