Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Crack for Mormon Housewifes

I thought I was stronger than this.

I thought I had beaten the odds.

My recovery program had been working so well.

And then, two nights ago, my own sisters undermined everything.  They slid me a plastic bag containing more than 200 grams of the good stuff, and my willpower was gone.

The problem started for me in high school.  My mom, a Utah Mormon housewife, was the pusher.  She had always made after-school snacks for us.  The onion bagels with strawberry cream cheese were easy to repel.  One day though, she found a recipe for peanut butter bars, and I was hooked.
A college roommate told me a story once that has stuck with me all these years.  The story goes that her mom's friend, a Mormon housewife in Phoenix, made a sheet of these habit-forming peanut butter bars for her own kids.  The family ate half the bars that day.  (Such restraint!)  The next day, while she was alone at home, she found herself picking at the remaining half sheet of this tantalizing treat until it was nearly gone.  The bars in her tummy were supposed to be waiting for her children at the end of the school day.  She couldn't own up to eating an entire half sheet of peanut butter bars, so to cover the evidence, she made another full sheet recipe.  A full sheet would invite too many questions, so there was nothing left to do but eat half the sheet again.  She ate two half sheets of peanut butter bars in under seven hours!

I know her pain.

And here's the thing, they don't just have peanut butter.  They're topped with chocolate!  A wonderfully wicked combination indeed.  We Mormon housewifes might easily defy coffee and tobacco, but wave chocolate and peanut butter in front of our noses, and we are goners.

Luckily for me, when I  left home to take on adulthood, I was too poor to buy the ingredients, so my obsession with peanut butter bars ended.  I thought I had kicked the habit.  Looking back, I realize I had only transferred my problem to a softer substance.

In college, I worked at BYU's bakery for six months.  In that short time, I put on 27 pounds (no joke) because I couldn't just let the mint-brownie rejects go to waste!  I dabbled in Texas-sized dougnuts and the occasional butter-smeared sourdough, but at least 25 of those pounds were from brownies.

I doubt I'm the only one to have battled the brownie bulge.  Livestrong.com has issued the following warning: "Brownies can be tasty but eating too many can have consequences for your health."

Well, thanks for that helpful head's up.  Notice the subtle omission of whether those consequences are negative or positive?  I wonder if Lance Armstrong informed that article with his own experience.  Oprah probably never thought to press him on his possible use of baked goods.

Fortunately, according to the article, there are ways to hide brownie doping.  Livestrong.com recommends 13 minutes of jogging or 26 minutes playing volleybal to burn the calories of one brownie.  No mention of cycling, though.  It probably takes just a couple Tours de France.

Then, there are those who don't even try to hide their actual brownie doping.  I've never explored the darker side of the internet, but in my research for this post, I was surprised at the recipes I found blatantly posted for all the world-wide web to see.  I didn't even have to leave Pinterest to find this helpful cookbook (pictured at right).  Drugs are still illegal, aren't they?  Poorwhitefarmer on International Cannagraphic's website tells how his granny wasn't much concerned with exact portion size, and simply used her spatula to cut servings of AAAA trim.  Some recipes call for budder--and here I had always just used butter!  Others call for bubble hash or finely ground Durban.  Some reference grass or weed, though I'm pretty sure I can't harvest what's growing in my lawn to make brownies.  I do like grasshopper brownies, though.  Maybe my innocent, Mormon interpretation of these recipes is the cure: actual grass-weed-and-grasshopper brownies would likely put an end to these cravings!

So, now that another piece of my Mormon-housewife naivete has been taken by the internet, back to my story.

As I write and reflect, I realize my so-called recovery has always been forced on me.  I got over peanut butter bars when I moved away from home and my mom failed to supply my after-school snacks.  My brownie problem halted when the BYU bakery relocated and laid off its student employees.  But quitting has never been my own choice.  And so, the pull is still there for me.

Sunday night, my sister, Carolyn, showed up to our family dinner with a full baking sheet of the hard stuff, and all my years of abstinence evaporated.  To make matters worse, three of the adults in our extended family aren't currently eating gluten or sugar.  In order to support their commitment, and to let Carolyn know that her efforts weren't wasted, I felt obliged to make a considerable dent in her dessert.  By evening's end, there was a formidable  half sheet of peanut butter bars sitting uneaten on the counter.  I thought of my roommate's mom's friend in Phoenix, and I couldn't bear the thought of what might happen should we let Carolyn take all that temptation back to her house, alone.  My Whole30 sister, Christy, must have had the same thought.  She filled plastic bags with bars and distributed them with the lie that, "Actually, they're good for you.  You get oats, and the peanut butter has protein."  I quickly rationalized, Christy runs marathons.  She must know what she is talking about.  It is so easy to believe a falsehood when it is topped with peanut butter and chocolate.

Yesterday, that little baggie of provocation stared me down.  I may have had a three-inch square bar while my lunch heated up.  I may have indulged a second bar while I put lunch back in the microwave for 20 more seconds.  (Soon thereafter, I may have put half my lunch back in the fridge because I was too full to finish it.)  I did show some restraint and kept five bars for my kids to finish after school.  Stupid me, relying on my kids to take up my addiction.  They, instead, all went for leftover chocolate cake.  After their snack time, I may have devoured another bar or two.

I hadn't realized that I was setting up a reverse sting operation, but now I know that I have one child who shares my propensity.  When I casually strolled into the kitchen to check on the status of the stash, I discovered that one of the two last bars had disappeared.  I quickly recalculated who had eaten which treat for snack, and then I may have freaked out a bit.  I may have shrieked, "Who ate one of these peanut butter bars?!?!"  My piercing, mommy radar was answered with only silence and dread on the faces of my four daughters.  #5, however, took off running to hide.

Be careful my boy.  It's a slippery slope.


VickieG said...

I have a suggestion; move to Russia where peanut butter is crazy expensive and difficult to even find. Finally had to travel 3 hrs. to St. Petersburg and then take a 45 minute very uncomfortable shuttle bus to our supplier. We gave up the good stuff (brownies) because without a real oven, it's just a waste of time & money. Now substituting straight chocolate bars which fortunately are everywhere.

Paul said...

Slippery slope, yes, but at least #5 will quickly run it off (he does still run everywhere, doesn't he?).

This seems to be a loophole in D&C 68:25.

Kent White said...

Great post Mary! I love your writer's voice!

Carolyn said...

Yeah, I can't keep open jars of peanut butter in my house- I don't trust myself. I only keep the smallest jars possible in my food storage, and make sure to use the whole thing in any baking projects (I won't mention how many jars I used for those peanut butter bars). I didn't realize I wasn't the one in the family with a chocolate/peanut butter habit.