Ode to Rice Krispies Treats

photo credit: stevendepolo

The following is a guest post by my wife, Lynley SanGeorge.

There are a lot of times when I am brought back to childhood….like right before a storm when I catch the scent of rain in the summer air before the downpour ensues, or the laughter of neighborhood children carried by the refreshing breeze. The five senses are powerful memory evokers and the smell of chlorine does it for me time after time. Growing up in Florida, my two brothers, sister and I, LIVED in the water, especially in the hot, humid summers of Miami. The smell of hotdogs and hamburgers makes me nostalgic too, although, much to the chagrin of my parents, I was probably one of the pickiest eaters, or at least that is what they would tell you. While everyone else was munching on a deliciously juicy burger, I would say “just cheese, ketchup and a napkin please.” But, really the smell of the meat cooking on the grill reminds me of family, security and being together.

Hands down the most powerful memory evoker is the smell of my mother’s homemade chocolate chip cookies wafting like angels in the air. Way before the threat of salmonella was even thought about in our house, we would pile huge clumps of raw dough on top of a warm cookie and eat them one after another. My mom often let us help her with baking, (as much as four children running around you in circles, saying “my turn, my turn” is helpful).

One of my favorite things to make with my mom besides her famous cookies was Rice Krispies treats. The feeling of being grown up and the independence I was granted by making something “all by myself” cannot be underestimated. As a shy child it helped build my confidence. With my mother standing close by I was able to pour the Rice Krispies into the hot pan and stir the marshmallows. I would watch as the butter turned the fluffy clouds into a gooey goodness, and then we would spread the sticky concoction into a buttered casserole dish. I would inevitably lick my fingers when she was not looking. The worst part was waiting until the treats cooled in the refrigerator and of course the best part was devouring them. Rice Krispies Treats always required a tall, cold glass of whole milk to go with them.

It’s the little things that bring me joy, and every time a familiar product becomes gluten free, I get excited. Not just because of the price and availability, but really because it means companies are listening and becoming more aware, people are taking notice and change is happening.

This week, my girls and I will put on our matching aprons and make Rice Krispies Treats for daddy. I will tell them to be careful and watch them closely as they stir the mixture and I will pretend not to notice (just this once) while they lick their fingers. Afterwards they will ask me, just as they always do when we bake together, “can daddy have one? Are they gluten free?” I will happily answer “yes!” Their daddy will be able to eat actual Rice Krispies Treats, of course along with a tall glass of cold milk. Probably skim; after all, we are adults now.

**The gluten free version of Rice Krispies cereal should be available in stores today, July 1st 2011! Be sure to look for the words "gluten free" on the cover to be certain .


Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger

When I was young the word squash was a "bad" word to me. If my mother were to say "come on, we're having squash for dinner", my first inclination would be to run and hide!
First off the word itself conjures something that isn't whole, but that has either been stepped on, or dropped. When you squash food it becomes indistinct and unrecognizable. To top this off my early memory of squash was frozen zucchini, over-boiled, served in water with a medley of other "Italian vegetables". Then there was the winter squash that sat in a bowl on the kitchen counter like a decoration; I never wanted any part of it either.

But then one cold winter day when I was a teenager my mother offered me half of an acorn squash she had baked. After an initial refusal she told me she would put brown sugar, cinnamon and butter on it. This sounded adequately tempting and the fact that it was steamy hot on a cold Buffalo, NY winter day didn't hurt either. I remembered tasting it and being delightfully surprised! The deep earthy tones of the squash mixed with the exotic cinnamon and sweet brown sugar took me to a new place. All these years later I can still go to that place, and this recipe is one way to get there! Butternut squash in many ways has even more of the qualities that endeared me to squash that day. And a Butternut squash soup, if done right,also has a silky smooth texture that is unbeatable. Not to mention its beautiful orange color.

This recipe is one I came up with when I was trying to get the most out of butternut squash. The fresh ginger adds a nice, faintly spicy element, the nutmeg adds a bit of exotic warmth. On a whim I threw a potato in,to make the soup a bit more hearty and really like what if did for the texture.

Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small sweet onion, chopped fine
3 cloves of garlic, diced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated, or diced.
1 tsp nutmeg
salt/pepper to taste
1 large Butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1' cubes
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1' cubes
8 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 tsp brown sugar


Heat the olive oil in a soup pot on medium heat
Add the onions and garlic, cook for 30 seconds, or until the onions are translucent
Stir in the carrot, celery and ginger, butternut squash, potato, salt, pepper (to taste) and nutmeg, mix well and cook for two to four minutes, cover everything evenly on the spices and oil.
Add the Chicken Stock and the brown sugar, mix everything together well and bring the heat to high until the pot boils
Once the pot comes to a steady boil turn it down to simmer for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so
After 45 minutes remove the pot from the heat and blend the soup in a food processor until smooth, but be careful it's very hot! if you don't have a blender large enough to hold the entire contents of the pot blend the soup in batches.
Serve hot and enjoy!