Monday, April 5, 2010

A Tasty Approach to Writing and Nutty Popcorn Fudge


Thursday evening longtime friend, Shelia P., called from her home in Wichita Falls, Texas. We chatted a bit and then she said, "Could I ask a favor?"

I didn't hesitate. "Sure," I said. But when she told me what she wanted, I burst out laughing and said, "No. No way."

She wanted me to write a tribute to her best friend, who is also her sister-in-law and next-door neighbor. I have never met this woman, Peggy (I'm not sure if I remember her name right. Too busy laughing.) Shelia needed the tribute the next day, Friday.

I said, "Tell me about Peggy." Shelia did, and I said, "Now write that down. There's your tribute."

I was about to launch into my lecture about writing being a three-part process and that Shelia was in that uncomfortable first part, pre-writing. It is the time when ideas jump around in your mind, and you pace the kitchen searching for something crunchy and chocolate to ease the anxiety.

I got only as far as "three-part" when Shelia said, "Oh yeah, that's what I told my little ones when I taught writing to my grade school kids."

She cut off my lecture as she jumped into her own lecture. She told me how she explained to the children that a piece of writing is like a hamburger. There are three parts: the top bun, the insides, and the bottom bun. The top bun lets you know this is a hamburger, just as the first of a story lets the reader know what the story is about. The insides -- the lettuce, pickles, onions, tomatoes -- are the details. And the bottom bun holds everything together, just as the story ending does.

What the heck was Shelia calling me for? She had it all wrapped up in juicy goodness. Not only that, but she has a blog that is pretty and fun and that showcases her writing ability every week: A Rose and a Baby Ruth.

She whined a little but agreed that she could, and should, write Peggy's tribute herself. Just a case of pre-writing anxiety.


I love Shelia's clever idea about a piece of writing being like a hamburger. Makes me want a hamburger, too. Let's think about hamburgers. If you could be served a perfect hamburger, what would it be like? Where would you be? What would the day be like? Who would be with you? I'm thinking thick juicy burger patty, New Mexico, with fresh green chiles, warm sunshine, cool breeze, mountains in the distance. How about you? What's your perfect hamburger? You know it could be a veggie burger. How about a noodle burger? Make it whatever you want.


Here is the perfect pre-writing treat. It's chocolate and crunchy, both. Great for pre-writing anxiety. This recipe is from an old clipping from The Kansas City Star. Sorry, I did not note the date.

Nutty Popcorn Fudge

4 cups popped popcorn
1 (18-ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine (I say go for butter.)
1 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla.

Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with foil: set aside.
Melt chocolate chips, condensed milk, and butter in large saucepan, stirring until smooth; remove from heat. Stir in popcorn, nuts, and vanilla. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan. Chill 2 hours or until firm. Remove from pan and cut into squares.
The recipe says this makes 32 servings. That must be a typo -- right? Surely they mean 3 or 2 servings.

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