Victoria's Vegetarian Victuals

The snow is almost up to my waist behind the house. The driveway is plowed almost every day, but it doesn't help much. My mother is having her annual visit from the bronchitis that she claims I gave to her in 1983. I didn't mean to, really I didn't! Anyway, winter has us by the throat, literally, and it isn't a lot of fun, and if ever the comfort of chocolate was needed, it's now!

Mom went up the hill behind the house the day before yesterday, but got stuck in the snow, which was hip deep. One of her boots was pulled off as she tried to lift her foot out of the snow, and the boot filled immediately with snow. She tried to balance on one foot to shake the snow out of the boot, but there was nothing to hold on to for balance, and she toppled over into the snow. She managed to get to her feet, and get the boot back on, snow and all, but by the time she got back down to the house, the snow in her boot had turned to ice, and the sole of her left foot was frozen to it, and hurting like the mischief.

We managed to get the boot off, but the sock was a lot more trouble. When I finally got a look at the sole of her foot, I was shocked. She had a really bad ice burn. We set up our old stand-by -- the Foot Fixer by Clairol -- and put it on heat and massage, and both of her feet went into it.

I ran to make some hot chocolate for her, and she had two cups while sitting for an hour with her feet in a hot, massaging soak. No frostbite -- we were lucky.

We got a bird feeder for Christmas, and we have to fill it every morning, because the poor little souls -- birds and squirrels both -- can't find anything to eat. So, Mom went out again this morning, after we fed the cats and took care of their needs, through the snow (not so deep as where she fell, but deep enough) and filled the feeder. Next time we looked, there was a small red squirrel clinging to the trunk of the tree where the feeder hangs, eating quickly, lest all the seed should disappear.

Yes, we need comfort food. We surely do. We need chocolate!

Chocolate Syrup Brownies

  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. chocolate syrup -- canned
  • 2 T. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c. chopped pecans
  • Pecans for garnish

Cream together butter, sugar and eggs until creamy and well blended. Add salt. Stir in flour, mixing to blend. Add chocolate syrup, vanilla and chopped pecans. Turn mixture into well greased and lightly floured 9" square pan. Smooth top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes until stick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack but loosen cake at edges, cut into squares. Garnish with pecan halves, dust with powdered sugar.

  • Yields: Depends upon how large you cut the squares!
  • Preparation Time: Less than an hour

Brown Sugar Hot Chocolate

  • 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 4 c. milk, heated
  • 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • Peppermint cane or stick for garnish

Stir chocolate and water in a medium saucepan over low heat until chocolate has melted (mixture will thicken). Gradually whisk in milk, then sugar and salt until evenly blended.

To serve: Reheat in a saucepan over medium-low heat or in microwave, stirring occasionally. Serve with peppermint-cane stirrer.

  • Yields: 4 cups
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Chocolate Cinnamon Fondue

  • 1/4 c. margarine
  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 c. light corn syrup
  • 1/4 c. kahlua
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Melt margarine and chocolate. Whisk in flour until blended; cook 1 minute, stirring. Remove from heat, blend in cinnamon. Pour into fondue dish; keep warm.

Suggested dippers: bananas, strawberries, oranges, lowfat pound cake.

  • Yields: 3 cups
  • Preparation Time: Less than 30 minutes

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

  • 1 1/2 c. finely crushed creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 2-3 T. margarine or butter, melted
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. mini chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. flour

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine crumbs and margarine; press firmly on bottom of 9-inch springform pan. In large mixer bowl, beat cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Toss 1/2 cup chip s with flour; stir into cheese mixture. Pour into prepared pan. Top with remaining chips. Bake 55 minutes or until center is set. Cool. Chill. Refrigerate leftovers.

  • Yields: 1 nine-inch cheesecake
  • Preparation Time: About an hour and a half