Living on a tiny island has its pros and cons. One con, for an example, would be the fact that the only way to get to our island is via boat or plane, most often one of the Washington State Ferries. I’ll admit there is a special kind of tranquility that comes from looking out over the miles of ocean and tree-covered islands as the ferry treks from island to mainland, but after the hundredth time it becomes much more of a chore than an adventure; an inconvenience rather than a luxury.
And the worst part is the ferry lines. A 90-minute boat ride quickly turns into a 2 1/2 hour ordeal when you add up the time spent waiting at the ferry landing after arriving early to ensure a place on the boat. Sometimes I long to be back in Colorado, where a shopping trip in the next town wasn’t plagued by watch-checking and carefully planned departure/arrival times. Now all of our trips off-island lie at the mercy of the ferry schedule, allowing little room for flexibility and a lot of room for hurrying to the ferry landing just in time to sit and wait.
Yesterday one of the ferries broke down and its replacement was stalled, resulting in the most chaotic ferry mishap in decades. All of the usual routes were either delayed, rerouted, or cancelled. Our ferry system includes four islands as well as the dock at the mainland, so people at various locations sat waiting in the hot sun for hours on end. My parents had planned to celebrate their silver anniversary on one of the other islands and they arrived at the ferry landing at 11 a.m. They were told that the ferry had broken down, but if they came back at 11:30 they could wait for the next one. An hour later they were asked to wait until 1:50. And then 3:30. And then 4:30. At 5:00, my parents were lucky enough that the man behind them drove away in frustration, and since they were now at the back of the line they were able to pull out and go back home. Otherwise they would have been stuck in the ferry line, surrounded by cars and unable to leave, for who knows how long! I think it goes without saying that yesterday, the cons of living on an island seemed to outweigh the pros by about 10,000 tons.
But there’s always tomorrow to bring back the pros of island life. I’m going away to college in a year, and I know that I’m going to miss this beautiful place, frustrating ferries and all. A few nights ago my mom and I rode the ferry home after a long day of shopping, and the full moon sat low over the ocean, casting golden ripples across the water. It was breathtaking, and it’s times like those that I feel so lucky to be living in such a gorgeous location. Growing up in the mountains of Colorado, I only saw the ocean every few years when we came to Washington, and now that I’ve lived by the sea I don’t know how I’ll ever stand to leave it. At least I know that it’s not going anywhere!
Now you might be wondering, what does all of this have to do with a baking blog? This time I’m stretching the relevance just a leeetle. Today I’m sharing a recipe for Sea Foam Bars….Sea Foam Bars, just like the sea I’ve been talking about. See the relevance? Okay okay, I said it was a stretch!
Anyway, these bars, a favorite of my brother’s, are a delicious spin on your everyday cookie bar. They have a soft, buttery base topped with chocolate chips, marshmallows, and nuts, and then covered with a light, sweet meringue that gets wonderfully crunchy after being baked. I’m not sure where the name Sea Foam Bars came from, but probably because of their puffy, sea-foam-like meringue top. And the recipe I used calls them Mud Hen Bars, which makes even less sense. So we’ll go with the Sea Foam.
I’m not sure what the best part of these bars is….the cookie base, the gooey, chocolatey, marshmallow middle layer, or the sweet crackly top. What I am sure of is that you should make them; then you can decide for yourself! 🙂
Sea Foam (aka Mud Hen) Bars
1/4 cup butter or shortening, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs (2 separated, 1 whole)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or spray a 9″x13″ pan and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter (or shortening) and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add in 1 whole egg, 2 egg yolks, and the vanilla. Mix well.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients just until combined. Spread the dough into the prepared pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips, marshmallows, and nuts.
Beat the 2 egg whites until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the brown sugar. Spread the mixture over the chocolate chips/marshmallows/nuts. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden-brown. Let bars cool before cutting. Yield: 24
(Recipe from Your Home-Based Mom)