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I like my blog stats. I’m always interested to see where people are coming from or what search words have led them to my little site. I am usually grateful to anyone and everyone who has linked up to my blog and I am quick to investigate a referrer when I’m getting more than a handful of hits coming in from a particular place.

So, when I saw I was getting visitors from a bulletin board on the America’s Test Kitchen website, I got curious.

I wish I hadn’t.

It was a discussion linking back to my rhubarb crumb cake post (which seemed odd, how did they even find that one particular post) with the subject of: Okay, guys, am I the only one who thinks this photo is great?

At first I thought she was referring to my rhubarb and/or cake photos, but it turned out she was referring to my blog’s header. Me and my red patent shoes and my red mixing bowl.

There were a few nondescript responses. And then the original poster said something that left me feeling like ice. I think it’s a good thing that I don’t have a photographic memory because it’s probably best I don’t remember the comment exactly. Instead, I’ll give you a summary: It looks as if this woman and her “pleasantly plump” calves (because that I do remember) has eaten everything before it could go in the oven and has had to lie down to digest it all.

And then, further down, another comment that struck even deeper.

No (Original Poster), when I opened the link and saw that across the top, I thought “Wa-huh? Did she get murdered while she was stirring her cookie dough? Or did she go into a diabetic coma from too much sugar? Or is she trying to look alluring with that red plastic bowl from Target and the red plastic shoes from Payless?” I couldn’t quite figure out the point of the picture.

It certainly does not make me want to eat….her cooking.

I felt ill to read that.

I have long known the Internet to be a place where meanness spreads easily. After all, I’ve read the comments on some of my articles for the Herald. People are quick to criticize or make mean comments. Anonymity, no doubt, plays a significant role in how people choose to comport themselves online.

And I know there is a valuable lesson in here about paying attention to the 99 people who like you and ignoring the one critic.

But here’s the problem.

These comments from these women confirmed all the things I feared people thought about me.

The original poster later took down her comments, editing the first post to say she had never intended to offend anyone. My initial reaction was to be appreciative that she seemed sorry. But, after a few minutes, I realized that her edited comment was just as strange. How did she not think people would be offended? Did she believe her comments were being made in a vacuum and the object of her criticisms would not find out? Likely, yes. But she was mistaken.

More than 60 people visited my site because of that bulletin board discussion. I have no idea what the others thought, but I can safely say that I’d prefer to get my traffic some other way.

And yes, a small part of me thinks they would probably be less mean if they had a nice slice of cake once in a while.

So, on that note, (she says, clapping her hands together), that is enough time wasted on that. Let’s eat something delicious!

Dolly Bars I

For elective choices in Grade 8 at high school (because there was no junior high in Vancouver and I’ll spare you the woes of being a 12-year-old girl going to school with 18-year-old boys who would never look at a kid like me) one could decide between food/wood/metal and home ec (food and sewing). I had no interest in working around giant saws that would probably take my finger off, so I chose home ec.

I don’t remember many recipes worth saving, except baby cheesecakes that used vanilla wafers for a crust and these things called Dream Bars. I kept the cheesecake recipe but have no idea where the one for the bars went, which is too bad because I think about them pretty often. (As in, more often than really is reasonable to reminisce about a baked good.) They were sort of chewy-gooey with a shortbread type crust and a sweet layer on top. I think there were pecans involved. And chocolate chips. And that’s about all I remember. I’ve googled until the cows come home, but nothing that calls itself a “dream bar” is actually what I remember.

And then I saw Dolly Bars. They seemed a reasonable facsimile and, therefore, worth a try.

I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from Homesick Texan. I didn’t notice the discrepancy in the amount of sweetened condensed milk until after it became clear this recipe was a bit of a failure for me. A little more online research showed that almost every recipe calls for an entire can of the stuff, while the one I used called for about 1/3 of a cup. My toppings didn’t really stay stuck to the graham cracker base as a result. Still tasty, but a bit of a failure. So, I’m going to try this again and use the entire can.

All the toppings

Condensed Milk II

Condensed Milk II

Dolly Bars before baking


Dolly Bars II

Dolly Bars

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, cut into large pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups graham crackers crumbs (about 8 graham crackers, pulsed in a food processor)
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in microwave in heatproof bowl until just melted when stirred. Add graham cracker crumbs. Mix and then press evenly into the bottom of 8×8 baking pan.

Layer coconut, pecans, butterscotch and chocolate chips on top of graham cracker base. Pour sweetened condensed milk over whole mixture.

Bake in oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is light brown.