The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Baking and Homemaking Not A Step Backwards

4 min read

Guest Columnist

The fall semester is well underway, and across our campus, the crisp days of autumn are once again upon us. A breeze is felt in the air and we begin to notice the trees sway on the walk to morning classes. A single yellow leaf falls to the ground, reminding us that the colors of the landscape will soon begin to change, adorning the hillsides with vibrant hues. We are reminiscent of childhood days. Days spent kicking through immense piles of leaves on the way back from the bus stop, the approach of the cool night as we played outside.

We are too reminded of the comforts of home: watching the tin of pumpkin bread rise in the oven, the delight of a mug of hot apple cider that greets you at the kitchen counter. These comforts are intrinsic to our quality of life, and yet we go without them.

As college students, most of us are far too busy with our studies to consider an attempt at baking beyond a Pillsbury brownie mix. It is not simply a question of time, however, but of lack of knowledge in this particular pursuit. Fifty years ago home economics was a required subject; however it has now all but disappeared from our education system. We can write papers on post-modern literary criticism, but cannot whip up a short crust to save our lives. The art of homemaking has become associated with a step backward in equality for women. Baking, in a sense, has come to represent the hours women have spent toiling over an oppressive the stove since the beginning of time. It is imperative, however, to not let this significant part of our culture disappear.

I propose a reclamation of baking and homemaking for the modern college girl, or boy for that matter. We can certainly get our liberal arts education, all the while producing delightful sweet treats for our friends and family. Baking is truly not a fearful endeavor, but an agreeable pursuit that fills one’s soul with a sense of achievement and happiness.

I have been on the path to domestic goddess enlightenment for quite some time now; spending years to find the perfect density for a blissful apple cake and just the right consistency of home-made blueberry jam. I hope to instill in all of you my love of baking in a simple and approachable way.

My ethos is quite plain: to produce the best quality, 100 percent homemade treats with minimal effort and anguish. This delicious recipe for peanut butter and chocolate bars can be made in the shake of a lamb’s tail, and the best part is you won’t even have to turn on your oven! I suggest using only the best quality organic ingredients, particularly the chocolate and peanut butter in this recipe. It is truly the quality of the ingredients that separates your homemade confections from the store-bought variety. I originally procured this recipe from a book entitled Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson, although I have made a few tweaks here and there in order for the recipe to reach the summit of excellence.


for the base:

¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 cup graham crackers
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 cup organic creamy peanut butter

For the top:

7 ounces milk chocolate
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

To make the base for the bars I would normally suggest using a food processor to turn the graham crackers into crumbs. However, unless you have brought your kitchen-aid to college with you, this piece of machinery might be hard to come by. Instead, place the graham crackers in a sealed Ziploc bag. Beat into submission with large object of your choice. For the next step, mix all the ingredients for the base together in a bowl until a smooth consistency develops. (A trick I use to eliminate stickiness when measuring the peanut-butter is to spray the measuring cup with non-stick spray.)

Next, spray your 9 inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the base mixture into the pan using a plastic spatula, pressing the mixture in compactly. Place in the refrigerator while you prepare the top.

To make the topping, put the milk chocolate, dark chocolate and unsalted butter in a microwave safe bowl. Melt on high in your microwave for approximately two minutes and spread the chocolate mixture over the base. Refrigerate until the bars are set, and cut into squares. I suggest placing each bar in an individual paper cupcake holder. Serve with a smile.

I hope that I have provided inspiration for you to become helpful in the home and handy in the kitchen. I wish each and every one my readers a pleasant and cozy autumn season, filled with all the contentment that domestic achievement can provide.

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