Lost and Found: “Not all those who wander are lost.” –J.R.R. Tolkien

Me: Hey, guess what I did today?

Adam: I have a feeling I’m going to regret asking. What?

Me: (clapping giddily) I saved two ladies from complete and total despair and quite likely from experiencing Western North Carolina Tourism Ruinism. But I may have scarred them for life, too. Probably both.

Adam: Tourism ruinism?

Me: Yes! It’s my new word.

Adam: Phrase. You probably capitalized it all in your head, too, huh?

Me: (ignoring) Well, I certainly didn’t plan this twisted kind of brilliance. You know, it just kinda happened. See, I was just finishing my power walk and was heading back home when I saw this car coming. I wasn’t exactly sure what they were doing – all I could see were their arms flailing about wildly in the front seat, like in some sort of celebration or something. As I approached, instead of doing what normal people do when they see a pedestrian or a biker in the lane – you know, the driver pulls out into the opposite one so they don’t hit them and to let the potential target know that they have no intention of mowing them down either, right? Well, they did not do that. In fact, the car started to veer towards me! They slowed down and kept coming right at me! I thought, Dude! This is not cool. I do not want to play a game of Chicken with your Prius while you are doing the Macarena. Because, and I’m just spit-balling here, I’m relatively sure that you will win, like pretty much always – even in a Prius. And, just for the record, it’s called vehicular manslaughter when you snuff out a jogger with an automobile. Dude, they were still coming – slower and slower, like they were trying to level the playing field or something, until I had to step way off the road. Fine, Prius, you win. And, this was the conversation:

They roll down the window. Two women – the driver who looked just like Jane Curtin, circa, 1980-something, with really short hair (super cute cut, too!) and the passenger, who looked like Tina Fey in black cat reading glasses. Not kidding.

Jane Curtin pumps her fist in the air and screams, “Thank GOD! Thank GOD you’re not a man.”

Me: Amen, sister. But I am married to one. So, you know.

Jane: THANK GOD YOU’RE NOT A MAN!

At this point, I wasn’t sure if that was a statement or a command, so I didn’t want to be rude and not comply…

Me: Okay. God, thank you for not making me a man.

Tina: We’re lost.

Me: Oh.

Jane: Thank GOD you’re not a man and you’re a woman because a man would…

Tina: Yeah, a man would give us a whole lot of sh*t for being lost.

Jane: We’ve been wandering around…

Me/Yoda: Not all who wander are lost.

Jane: No, what I meant is that we’ve been driving around in circles for hours!!!

Me: Yep, that does sound like you’re lost. You must be crazy dizzy, too! Well, a man who’s lost wouldn’t even stop to ask for directions, so…

Jane: Exactly! Thank GOD you’re not a man! We’re looking for the Table Rock hiking trail.

I thought to myself, Okay…you almost take me out with your Prius and now…NOW you want my help? This is going to be fun.

Me: Oh. Well, good luck!

Tina: Um, are we going the right way?

Me: For what?

Jane: Table Rock State Park.

Me: Whoa, Nellie! Say that fast five times!

Obviously, Jane felt compelled to repeat her question with a little more clarity.

Jane: Um…Table…Rock…is it far?

Me: Define far.

Tina: Do you live around here?

Me: Frequently, yes.

Jane and Tina look at each other with a palpable “?”

Jane: Can you tell us how to get to Table Rock?

Me: Table Rock? Never heard of it.

Jane: Well, we are on Table Rock Road. That’s what the sign says right there (pointing to the street marker)?

Me: OMG! You’re right! How creepy is that?

Jane and Tina exchange nervous glances in an uncomfortable silence.

Me: Oh, wait! You mean (in a very muddled French accent) Tablé Rocque?

Tina: Uh, I guess. But I thought…

Jane: Um. I thought it was called Table Rock because it looks like…um…a table? And the French word for table is…

Tina: Tableau. It’s tableau.

Jane: Right, tableau.

Me: Are you serious? You mean I’ve been mispronouncing it THIS WHOLE TIME? How embarrassing.

Jane: Um…

Realizing that these poor weary female travelers might possibly have a nervous breakdown at any second, I decided to go ahead and come clean with my merciless teasing.

Me: I’m just messing with you guys.

Nervous laughter from the SNL crowd.

Me: Sorry. You probably had flashes of Deliverance, huh?

Adam, head cocked to the side, looking at me with impatience and disdain. It’s about a 3.5 degree of difficulty and he’s really pulling it off. He’s so bloody talented.

Me: Fine. This is what really happened. The Chicken Game? Totally true. The Thank GOD you’re not a man absolutely happened. But when they rolled down the window and asked for directions, I sweetly reassured them that they were on the right road and they would get to their destination. Eventually.

Adam: Something’s wrong with you.

Me: Not at all. My little fantasy conversation was how I amused myself on the walk home. No harm, no foul.

Adam: Then, I guess you could say that your imaginary bark is worse than your bite.

What’s funny about this recipe is that I threw it together for an Entertaining post for the pumpkin candy jar. The tantalizing combination of the vanilla-infused chocolate, the salty, nuttiness of the almonds and pepitas, the tart/sweet play of the dried blueberries and the spicy crunch of the candied ginger was the bomb dot com. Even Adam, who has his opinion about the pairing of chocolate and fruit never happening in a perfect world, suspended his rule while polishing off the batch. It’s. So. Good. Super easy to prepare, too.

White Chocolate Bark with Dried Fruit, Nuts and Candied Ginger

Author: Cheryl Beverage Barnes
Recipe type: Sweets and Desserts
Serves: makes 16 to 18 pieces
White Chocolate Bark with Dried Fruit, Nuts and Candied Ginger
White Chocolate Bark with Dried Fruit, Nuts and Candied Ginger

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces quality white chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup dried blueberries
  • ¼ cup toasted pepitas
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • ¼ cup dried crystallized ginger, diced

Instructions

  1. Line a small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Place the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir the chocolate with a heatproof spatula. Return the chocolate to the microwave and continue heating and stirring in 30-second intervals until the chocolate is just melted. The residual heat will melt any small pieces. Stir the chocolate until smooth and evenly spread it into a large rectangle in the prepared pan.
  2. Evenly sprinkle the blueberries, pepitas, almonds and ginger over the top; gently press into the chocolate. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Break the bark into pieces and bring to room temperature before serving.

Notes

…from the Picture-Perfect kitchen:

Planning: Feel free to customize your bark by substituting pistachios or another dried fruit, like apricots. The bark will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least a week, but seriously, good luck with that.

Product Purity: White chocolate is not really true chocolate since it contains no chocolate liquor. But what it does have is a wickedly good vanilla flavor. Use high quality bar white chocolate, not chips. Callebaut and Valrhona are wonderful specialty kitchen store brands.

Presentation: When company comes, I serve shards of the bark with glasses of brandy and a fruit tray of local apples and sweet clementines.

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