Unbagging the Cats 1

Unbagging the Cats 1

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chex Mix, the Harsh Taskmistress

Once upon a time, I fell into the habit of giving people at work a small token of my appreciation during the Christmas holidays. Depending on the school, it was the custodian, or secretary, or colleague, or committee members who assisted me in shoveling paperwork, or an administrator, or counselor, or my kids' teachers. Unfortunately, my generosity knew no bounds. I created a monster. A polite, well-behaved monster, to be sure. But a monster with a voracious appetite.

The problem with giving folks my world-famous Chex Mix is that they assume it is a gift that keeps on giving. I only weaned my boys' kindergarten teacher off of it two years ago when The Pony entered sixth grade. Thank goodness, for the most part, The Pony followed in Genius's teacher footsteps. I actually blame Genius, not the teachers. He decreed that all of his teachers would get Chex Mix every year. Because it wouldn't be fair to leave them out, just because he had moved on from their classes. He's quite generous with my time, effort, and money like that.

Then there is the issue of my building assignment. For seven years, I was a traveler. I worked a half-day in one building, and a half-day in another. So I had two principals, and two secretaries, and two counselors, and four custodians, and so on. They still expect me to share the wealth. And I most certainly can't leave out the superintendent, and his two secretaries.

A couple of years ago, my bestie brought back her container the next day. "Do you give refills?" I had some left over, so I humored her request. Now I am on the hook for multiple Chexes for her. Oh, how my appreciation list has grown. I now have to fill 25 plastic Walmart containers with Chex Mix. I need some elves.

Yesterday and today, I made two batches. It will take four to fill the bare minimum of containers. Because Hick and the boys will want some, and I'll have to whip some up for the extended family. Chex Mix is a harsh taskmistress. It's not like I can open a bag of store-bought mix and pawn if off as my own. That would be like an Iron Chef plating a Little Debbie oatmeal pie as a dessert. Without a fancy swirl of sauce.

Cruel Madame Chex Mix requires as much supervision as a newborn. A newborn that needs to be removed from the oven every fifteen minutes, stirred, rotated, returned to said oven, and repeated over the course of a two-hour session. I'm surprised I do not develop carpal tunnel syndrome every December. My right forearm would put Popeye's to shame. My right hand is frozen into the shape of a C-clamp. At least I have had the good sense to buy a second non-stick 9 x 13 pan, rather than using my Pyrex.

I have a special recipe, handed down from my mother, that she has labeled as "Scrambles". I think she probably copied it off the Chex box back in the 1950s. I saw one on the box this morning, and it was a blasphemous bastardization of the one true Chex Mix. Today's recipe called for oyster crackers! Who puts oyster crackers in Chex Mix? And while I'm picking that bone of contention out of my side, let me voice my disappointment in my mother for adding Bugles to her current recipe. That is just wrong.

Here's a picture of my Chex Mix, circa 2005. The real deal. It's perched on the very heavy cutting block that my husband dragged home from work after a remodel, with a lovely roll of paper towels in the background. I don't know why I felt it necessary to include the paper towels, unless I wanted to prove that I'm clean. I got hired for that very reason one time. Because I looked clean. But that's a story for another time. This one batch of Chex Mix. I can get ten small containers out of a batch. I used to give more, but the creation of this other-worldly treat is quite taxing. And my bestie gets three of the larger containers, which is equivalent to about seven regular ones. It takes fifteen minutes to properly layer the ingredients and get them ready for baking. So we're looking at almost nine hours of oven-tending.

My generosity has spiraled out of control.


Tammy said...

Guess that's the price you pay for feeding teachers. It's just like feeding stray cats-now you'll never get rid of them.

irishoma said...

It looks yummy! No wonder so many folks want your special treat.

Mommy Needs a Xanax said...

It looks delicious. Do you ship?

knancy said...

The "real" chex mix is a wondrous thing. My mother's was quite dark colored in comparison to that other mix. I think it was the Worcestershire - not counting all the spicy onion and garlic salts baked for hours in a low oven. A turkey is easier to bake! Stir, stir, stir. She stored it in big metal coffee cans and I could sit and eat that stuff until half the can was gone!

My son and I made it one year together and it is not cheap to make. We finally quit when I mentioned we were out of cigarettes and when we looked outside we realized there was no traffic. I checked the time and it was 2 AM! Drank another beer to wash some more “trial” mix down and he staggered home and I bumped on into bed. Oh! The memories….And great mix!

Can’t stand the weak, no-taste stuff. I love the cheerios and all the chex - wheat, corn and rice. When younger, I would slide the Cheerios on the pretzel sticks and eat it that way sometimes. As I grew older, I filtered out the pretzels and went just for the cereal. They absorbed all the spicy goodness better.

Good mix is hard to find. So glad you’re an original.

Linda O'Connell said...

So now you have me craving salty foods. You are very generous to gift so many. I was expecting arecioe, not that I'd set myself up for carpal tunnel.

Sioux said...

I would go renegade next year (it's too late this year) and write a note about all those "pesky" carbs, and announce that you're making something else. You're thinking of their health, and all those empty carbs are not good for them, and blah blah blah. (I have a homemade fudge recipe that takes five minutes in the microwave, is NOT gritty and is foolproof, if you're interested.) You can always make a huge vat for your family, but it sounds like it has gotten out of control.

Or, fake an injury of your arm before next year's holiday season gets into gear, and then the next year, claim your mother is writing a cookbook and her recipe for chex mix is going to be included, and her editor is not allowing you to just spread the "recipe" in such a wide circle without them purchasing the book (which is still in its early stages).

You MUST stop after this year. It has grown to an out-of-control size. Watch the movie "Little Shop of Horrors" to remind yourself of what might happen if you don't kill this beast immediately.

labbie1 said...

Just send me some! Bugles???? I haven't had those in YEARS!!!! Ymmmmm...

OTOH--want to share the original recipe? I thought that the store stuff was bland and not at all the same as well but thought I was just "misremembering". LOL

C D Meetens said...

Oh, dear. Well, at least you know everyone loves your cooking ;). I get let off the hook with things like this, because I can't cook, and there are people who can attest to that fact... unfortunately.

Val Thevictorian said...

And we aren't as likely to help out with your mouse population.

It is, at the very least, photogenic. Can you smell the garlic powder, just by looking?

Not at this time. I can barely keep up with my local orders.

Wow! You are a true Chex Mix aficionado! I admit that I have a heavy hand with the Worcestershire sauce. In fact, when I open the oven door for the first stirring, the vapors nearly knock me out. That's when I know I have a good batch percolating.

A recipe might be forthcoming, as long as I am not held liable for injuries. Real, imagined, or downright faked.

Gosh! You have me impersonating a nutritionist, faking an injury, lying about my mother, and killing. I had no idea I was running with such a dangerous crowd.

Let's get one thing straight. If you want Bugles in your Chex Mix, you will have to contact my mother. I find Bugles to be an abomination in such a classic recipe. I suppose you've stockpiled a few cases of New Coke to wash it down with, then? If I can find my give-away recipe, I'll post it. I'm not in a mood to reinvent the wheel tonight.

C D,
My boys would beg to differ. The grass is always greener on someone else's dinner table.

labbie1 said...

I swear and affirm that I will not include bugles in my Chex Mix! I just haven't had them in ages and haven't thought about them but remembered how very much fun they were to put on the ends of my fingers to make pointy ends and then eat them. Such a fun time! :)

BECKY said...

Holy Cow! (said in my best Harry Caray voice) I've never seen so much Chex Mix in one place! I had to read this post because I've missed a few, it appears...and wondered "What the heck?" when I saw your recipe begin with 3 boxes of cereal and 2 bags of pretzels! I'm with Sioux....you are way too kind! That had to cost a small fortune.

Val Thevictorian said...

My sister used to do that. Of course, she also rubbed Elmer's Glue on her fingers and let it dry so she could peel it off. Separate from the Bugle fingernails.

Well, between my contacts at Fort Knox, the buried socks in the back yard, and the currency trees in the front yard...I've got it covered.