It almost feels pointless to say this, but a big part of sustainability is making your own food. For one thing, by making your own meals and dishes, you remove the corporate influence from your kitchen. You know where your food comes from, you know it’s healthy and you give a great big raspberry to Monsanto at the same time!
I love to cook. I love taking traditional farm and family recipes and adding my own touches. A lot of my inspiration comes from old church and club cookbooks and have dozens and dozens of them! They are chock full of great old recipes, unintentional humor and family tradition. They are, if you will, right from someone else’s kitchen table!
The first one I’d like to share is from the “Favorite Recipes” cookbook of the Queen Esther Circle, 1st Christian Reformed Church of Wellsburg, Iowa - ca. 1960's. Notice the title, Mana Mia Bars. I suspect that is a misprint. It was probably supposed to be Mama Mia Bars. But after all, that’s the charm of these old cookbooks isn’t it? They shall be forever known as Mana Mia Bars!
Mana Mia Bars
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 Tbsp cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup butter (softened)
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp instant vanilla pudding
Mix together ingredients for the first layer and place over hot water in a double boiler and cook until it reaches a custard-like consistency (6-8 minutes). Remove from heat and add 1 cup shredded coconut and (optionally) 1/2 cup nuts. Mix well and pack it into the bottom of a 9x9x2 pan that has been lightly buttered.
Mix the second layer ingredients together and spread evenly over the second layer. Refrigerate for an hour or two.
For the final layer, in your double boiler melt 6 oz chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. water and spread it over the top of the refrigerated bars. Place back in refrigerator and let the top layer harden before cutting.
These are very rich, very simple and one of those recipes that makes it look like you went to a lot more trouble than you really did!
After making these for the first time a couple of days ago, I can say that toasting the coconut before adding it to the first layer improves the flavor and texture of the bottom layer immensely!
If you make these, please come back and let us know how you adapted them for your tastes, how your family enjoyed them or anything else you’d like to add.