I affectionately refer to us as the traveling circus, you never quite know what you are going to get. Our kids are usually ready to pack a bag and pile in the car at a moments notice. We love a good road trip and boy do we seem to have the stories to go with them.
I’ve always loved hitting the road. On college road trips I developed a love of Sprees. Those round brightly colored little disks of sugar made me over the top happy or at least set me off on a sugar high. It’s hilarious what can transpire in a car with four people who have been in close proximity for way too long, so it’s hard to tell sometimes if it’s the candy or the company, or a combination of both. I don’t enjoy the newfangled chewy kind, but the old school hard almost chalky kind you find in the long slim silver wrapped package at most convenience stores. I would always try to pace myself so I didn’t eat the entire sleeve at one time, but it hardly ever worked.
Later in life, when my husband and I hit the road to visit family or head to the beach, I still craved Sprees. I was often taunted about my obsession. Yet when sent in for snacks, on the rare occasion that I didn’t actually need to use the restroom, my husband knew my weakness and would always walk out the doors with a smile on his face and a sleeve of Sprees in his hand.
My tastes haven’t changed and although I don’t indulge in them much, and when I do I now have to share, I get giddy when I find them in the store.
We have a tradition of going to the beach for a week in the spring, before the masses hit the beaches, it gets too hot, and it gets too expensive. We’ve gone to the beach every year except one.
One year, when I was seven months pregnant with our son and our daughter was a toddler (a potty training toddler), we decided that rather take a her to the beach (we envisioned disaster) we should drive through the state of Tennessee…Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis. So you have a toddler that figured out if she said she had to use the bathroom, we would stop immediately. She was telling us every 15 minutes she had to pee, a game neither my husband or I found particularly funny. We eventually didn’t know when to believe her or not. And then there was a seven month pregnant women who really did have to pee every 15 minutes and was just praying on those long stretches of empty highway that she wouldn’t go into labor and deliver her child on the side of the road by herself, since her husband faints at the site of blood. And a driver who was reexamining our idea of a vacation. In fact I think his last words were, “Next year we aren’t going anywhere. We are putting a tent up in the backyard!” Overall it was a very memorable trip. We drove through the Smokey Mountains. We ate some great BBQ. And, we stood on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. However, pink monkey was dragged by the stroller through the mud on the bank of the Mississippi River, which required us to promptly locate a laundromat. We stayed in a shady hotel along the way and saw some shady stuff, but made it back on one piece with some great stories.
Over the years we had some wildly entertaining times on the road and a series of rather unfortunate events as well, from ambulances, hospital stays, vomit in purses, and speeding tickets that cost more than our hotel room. Yet they all make for good stories. This year our trip to Myrtle Beach was no different. As we were packing up on the last night, a hail storm like we’ve never seen before, with hail the size of baseballs, severely dinged up our car, which has been held hostage for four weeks now by the collision company.
Sprees are hard colorful candies made by the Willy Wonka Candy Company, which produces a large selection of widely distributed sweet treats. Yet, I had a hard time finding Sprees. After searching two big box stores and several grocery stores, my husband found them on a recent road trip to Richmond at a Sheetz, which is like mecca for my husband. Every time we drive through Breezewood on the way to see our families in western Pennsylvania, we stop at the Sheetz. I’ve recently found out we even have a frequent buyer card of some sort! It is like a cult following. I’ve also been told they have the best hot dogs in the world.
While one of our little bakers can usually use a meat tenderizer to pulverize any ingredients safely tucked inside a plastic storage bag, we found that the only way to get the finely ground consistency we were looking for was with a food processor. You might want to cover with a damp kitchen towel when you grind them in the food processor because they create quite a large bit of dust, which we found out the hard way. But we wanted to be sure those sweet fruit flavors were in every bite. And in case you were wondering, the red is cherry, orange is of course orange, yellow is lemon, green is apple (although I don’t get that at all!), and purple is grape.
Although a young baker suggested that we grind up the other package of Sprees and mix them with some whipped topping to dip the biscotti in, we couldn’t resist just eating them. But we will most certainly try that next time!
YIELD: approximately two dozen
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup crushed hard Spree candies or a 5 ounce box (You’ve got to go old school and stick with the hard candies, not the chewy ones!)
2 eggs and 1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.
2. In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and Sprees.
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg white, and vanilla extract.
4. With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.
5. Separate the dough in half. Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet. Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.
6. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split. Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
7. Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board. Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
What to do with the ends #78: Write the number “1″ on one side and the number “2″ on the other. Use the end on your next road trip as you would a coin for heads or tails, to solve any disputes emanating loudly from the backseat…like which CD to listen to for the 32nd time, whose turn it is to use the tiny computer, or whose pink money gets to be strapped into the middle seat. I’m sure you get the idea.