For our event with Shotgun Lovesongs, which like The Hearts of Men, was on the first day the book went on sale, we served pickled eggs. If you've read the book, you know that stealing pickled eggs is a pivotal moment in the book. We got ours from Bay View Packing and truthfully, they were better than you'd think they'd be.
But what to do about The Hearts of Men? It's first day of sale so you have to celebrate. Usually you host these sorts of things in a market where the author's family lives so they can provide the party. But aside from our friend Mary (who knows Nick from the days when he used to take authors around Madison), we're his best friends here. And that means we have to serve something, right?
What to do? Camp. Scouts.
I got it, we'll make s'mores.
Problem #1: we don't have a fireplace.
Problem #2: we don't have a kitchen.
Problem #3: we don't have running water.
Being that I am a Top Chef addict, I decided to do s'mores three ways. Which quickly turned to five ways. Friend of Boswell Carl was visiting while I was doing my planning. He said he loves when any contestant does anything three ways. I am waiting for someone to do something five ways and for Tom to say, "That's a bit much" and kick them out.
I have to talk about Top Chef Charleston for a moment. While it was not a terrible season like Texas, I found it a disappointing setup (newbies vs. vets) that I couldn't get past. I could go on.
S'mores #1: S'mores cereal. The truth is that s'mores is to summer what pumpkin spice is to fall and peppermint is to December. I decided to head through a market and see what s'mores flavored treats I could find and found this cereal first. I think it's leftover from last summer. It's dry without milk, but I know that eating dry cereal is a thing.
S'mores #2: the toaster pastry. I have seen these on the shelves for a while, and while I try a new flavor of Pop Tarts every few years, I haven't had one since root beer. This one has the creamy marshmallow texture that is missing in some of the other varieties, but I'm not sure the crust approximates graham cracker.
S'mores #3: "Backpacker Bites." What I did not find was a s'mores granola bar variation, but I'm guessing that those sold out at the end of last summer. I'm not sure how you would call that sugar swirl marshmallow. I've heard similar complaints about the Girl Scouts s'mores cookie.
I had a weird moment when I decided that maybe s'mores was really a culture of Girl Scouts, not Boy Scouts, and needed to find any sort of reference. I found one in this S'mores Party program.
S'mores #4: No-bake traditional. Now I get creative. For this, I used real graham crackers, and spread on dark cocoa cookie buttter, and then sprinkled on mini marshmallows. I should have used the small marshmallows instead, as these have that cereal texture. That said, it's close enough.
Amie offered to make s'mores bars. Teasha has a recipe for s'mores dip. I thought they involved too much preparation for my taste. Plus I was already serving s'mores five ways. I didn't want to go crazy on this. Seven ways? That's nuts.
' S'mores #5: No-bake traditional variation. Once again I used graham crackers, but spread with marshmallow fluff. Kraft sells one using their Jet Puffed brand but as a person who grew up on in New York, I went with Massachusetts-based Fluff, which is the first choice for fluffer nutters. Then I tried to drizzle on chocolate ice cream topping. It didn't come out right, nor did it harden. I read the instructions and it turns out the package needs to be soaked in hot water. Hoping it works better tonight.
It turns out we were not the first event. There was an Eau Claire celebration on Monday Now the pressure is off.
Daniel Halpern talked about The Hearts of Men on NPR last December.
Also, just learned that The Hearts of Men will be reviewed in Sunday's New York Times Book Review. Too early to link, but I'll come back and post it when it's available, which is usually on Thursday.
Are we serving this stuff? Yes we are. If you're honorable. See you tonight at 7, and we'll have signed copies afterwards.
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