"Have you thought about writing your family history, but found yourself stuck from the start? Writing a family narrative can be a daunting task, but Karen Jones Gowen found a way to bring her mother's story to life." (Homespun Magazine)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Homemade Maple Bars and Happy Thanksgiving

Last night was a birthday celebration-- a pizza building party. And for dessert the birthday boy's favorite food of all time-- maple bars. But not just any maple bars, these were made from scratch, dough rising, cut in shapes, then fried, iced while hot, made in my own kitchen by my daughter and me maple bars. She wanted to double the recipe so I was frying for an hour and a half, and we ended up with about 4 cookie sheets of maple bars. And this after eating pizza? omigosh, no wonder my husband and me are so danged fat.

Well, it turned out that he and I didn't get the opportunity to overeat, because all the six foot boys in our family (as well as the future son in law birthday boy) pretty well demolished all of it. Two huge pizzas with pepperoni, sausage and 4 lbs. of cheese, and nearly 4 trays of maple bars. Alright, we aren't quite such pigs, to be truthful, a lot of it was divided up and taken to various homes. And there were fifteen people for dinner.

That was our pre Thanksgiving hog fest.Eating turkey tomorrow will feel like a diet. But seeing all that food disappear got me to thinking. What is it about this upcoming holiday season that makes us feel like overindulging and consuming more than our share? It seems to begin at Halloween and then by Jan 2, we are all stuffed, broke, in debt and planning our New Year's resolutions to remedy the situation. It's not just food and overeating, it's all the spending and the shopping and the conspicuous consumption. We've all done it, and most of us don't like it, but we get sucked in just the same. I could blame the media, but they don't force us into the stores to open our wallets.

This year, I would love to have a simpler holiday, with less indulgence, more heart and less cash, with service instead of selfishness. Do you think that's even possible in this cultural environment?  And in case you're interested, here's the recipe for the maple bars:

  1 1/2 c. milk
  1/2 c. shortening
  4 tbsp. sugar
  2 tsp. salt
  2 yeast cakes
  4 tbsp. warm water
  4 3/4 c. flour
  3 eggs, beaten well
  Frosting (recipe follows)

Bring milk to boiling point and pour over shortening, sugar
and salt in a large bowl. Cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast
in warm water and add to lukewarm mixture in bowl along
with flour and eggs; mix well.
Grease bowl and add dough, turning to grease top. Cover and
let rise in a warm place until doubled. Turn out onto a
well floured board and roll 1/2" thick. Cut into 2"x4"
pieces. Let rise again in warm place until double.
Deep fry in oil heated to 375 degrees in deep skillet or
fryer until golden on all sides. Remove to paper towels to
drain. Make Frosting and frost bars while still warm.

  2 c. confectioners' sugar
  3 tbsp. butter, softened
  1/4 c. milk
  1/4 c. maple syrup
  1/2 tsp. maple flavoring

Blend butter into sugar, add milk a tablespoon at a time until right consistency. Should be smooth and spreadable. Add more powdered sugar if mixture is too runny, and more milk and/or syrup if it's too stiff.


  1. That sounds like an amazing family feast. I hope you had lots of help to clear up afterwards! Thanks for posting the recipe; it's interesting to me as I'd never even heard of maple bars.

    I'm all for simple holidays. We have a quiet time over Christmas and don't go overboard on gifts or feasting. If you don't go to the shops then you don't get tempted to buy things you don't need.

    Best wishes for Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  2. Wow!! What a great celebration!!!

    I think so long as you are surrounded by loved ones and are having a grand ol time then that's all good. But of course we can all have a lovely time with just company and without all the rampant consumerism too! Happy birthday to your future son in law and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

    Thanks for the recipe too!

    Take care

  3. Have a great Thanksgiving Karen! thanks for the recipe...

  4. I think, along about Halloween, the pressure of Christmas starts to build. Soon the Christmas Carols are playing in the grocery store and Christmas advertisements begin to appear on TV. When Thanksgiving gets here, we indulge in an attempt to escape the pressure. Turkey meat instead of Wild Turkey.

  5. Karen, that sounds amazing, all that cheese!! I think life is tough nowadays and we all deserve a bit of relaxation. We try and include home made pressies in our gifts, that whole consumerism thing gets too much and as our country is in meltdown Christams may be austere here in Ireland this year.

  6. That looks like a great recipe!

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Eagle, believe me these maple bars are delicious, altho a lot of work and very fattening!

    Brigid, What a shame what's happening in Ireland right now. I wouldn't even know about it if it weren't for you and Barbara's blogs.

    Jerry, "turkey meat instead of Wild Turkey" LOL

    Pat, Let me know if you actually try making these. If you love donuts you will love these.

    Kitty, Being around family is what makes the holidays special to me :)

    Christine, We do the same-- focus on family gatherings, special food (altho we do tend to overdo in that area) and avoiding materialism with simple meaningful gifts, sometimes homemade.

  8. Wow, you are truly amazing, Karen! Fifteen people over for dinner, on Thanksgiving Eve, even if it was pizza! And making four trays of maple bars.(these are killer, btw) On top of cooking Thanksgiving dinner?!! I don't know how you do it! Cheers!


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