He Didn't Come Here For You: Vanilla Bean & Lemon Rice Krispies Squares

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

-Yes, we're going all old school with graduate flavor.-

I rarely ever seem to post stories about how terrifying humanity can be anymore. If you go through the archives you'll quickly realize that I am a gravity for ridiculous situations. Being the black hole for stupidity can be rather trying, but it does provie for rather interesting stories.

Recently, life seems to have been rather quiet. Perhaps I've been too busy to notice or maybe we as a society are just getting better at using common sense (though that seems unlikely). The only truly hilarious thing as of late was when I sliced my hand open on a paper cutter while making a Injury and Illness Prevention Binder for Human Resources purposes. The droll irony of it all.

It was the only hilarious thing, that is, until a week ago.

I was out at Home Depot having some keys made for the new roommate and patiently waiting in line. The woman helping me was a squat, black woman with a multicolor weave that looked like it had been styled by whomever designed Rainbow Brite's miniskirt. Her fingernails were the long, curled sickles - the type where you wonder how the person does everyday tasks like turn a doorknob or use a keyboard. Each was painted a different shade of purple and totally bedazzled with plastic gems so that each was a little violet disco ball. Had she been five I could understand that being the coolest thing, like, ever. When you're easily over thirty? I dunno...

Then again, I'm a white gay male wearing bright pink manties with teal trim so what the hell do I know?

And now you know what underwear I'm wearing.


I was watching her make keys, hypnotized by her dazzling nails as they deftly twisted and turned in the light. She expertly maneuvered them and it was plainly obvious that nails like these required years of practice, particularly when one worked in a hardware store where heavy objects and awkward tools practically spelled death for a manicure.

"Hello." It came out of nowhere. Or right behind me.

I jumped, having been rather engrossed in observing this woman in her natural state. I turned to see a handsome gentleman; tall, dark features, with a face that hadn't been shaved in a few days and dressed in torn jeans and a shirt splattered in burgundy paint that had likely found its way there only an hour earlier. He was the type you would mercilessly eyebang raw behind the safety of your sunglasses.

"Oh, hi," I stumbled out.

"Having keys made?" he charmed.

"Uhhh, yeah..." at this point Nails (as I began to call her in my head) indicated something was wrong with the machine and called a manager for assistance.

"So how is your day going?" the man pressed. He began to smile and pose a bit, a chiseled jaw line and wide chest being flaunted like a peacock with a gym membership. I realized - with glee - that I was being hit on.

It has, admittedly, been a while since this has happened. Mainly because I simply don't find myself in situations where this can really happen. Today, however, seemed extra unusual for this to happen. I hadn't showered, my hair was a mess, and I had been in the garden all day so I was a sweaty, tired, frumpy mess covered in dirt. Still, I'll takes what I can gets.

We made a bit of small chat. It was fine and it was fun, but it was certainly noncommittal. After all, I had my husband waiting at home and even had I been single I was too tired to really do this.

"So what are you doing later?"

"Me?" I said with a fluster. "Oh, uh, just probably napping after I get home."

"Oh, that's sexy," I chastised myself.

"Would you like to do it at my place?" he smiled a smile that, I admit, made me melt like a pat of butter in a hot skillet.

Points for being direct. I'm pretty outspoken, but damn. Go him.

-Yay that I've still got it, I guess.-

"Uhhhh, no. Um. No. Thank you. I have a husband actually," I lifted my hand and flashed my wedding ring, the abalone band capturing the light and shattering it across the store.

He looked right passed it and into my eyes. "So?"

And then I had nothing to say. Really. For one of the few times in my overly articulate life I had no response except a dumbfounded look. I just knew I was suddenly pissed off.

"OH NO YOU DIDN'T!" a voice screamed out.

I whirled around to see Nails, her eyes wider than dinner plates, her lips pinched tight and her knuckles resting on her hips with the nails pointed at the ground as if to threaten it with a good raking.

"Did you not HEAR this boy? He said he married!"

The man began to stammer. He looked at me, then went back to her. "Miss, I wasn't talking to y-"

"OH I DON'T CARE! Didn't you hear!? This boy said he married! Nu-uh! NO WAY, GIRL! He didn't come here for this. He just came to get himself some keys! HE DON'T WANT YOU! HE DON"T NEEEEEEED YOU! NOW GO! GO ON! GET OUTTA HERE!"

He looked at me. I looked at Nails. "Um, what she said. Sorry dude."

The man, completely bewildered, gave me a nod and a smile and sort of stumbled away. Unsure of what to make of the verbal whupping he had just received.

"Um, thanks," I chuckled out. "That was awesome. Harsh, but awesome."

"Oh honey," said Nails in a motherly tone, "don't you worry about that. Here's your keys. Sorry about the wait."

"How much do I owe?"

"It's taken care of, honey."

"Oh, no, actually I haven't paid yet," I began to get my wallet.

"No, no. It's taken care of. You have a good day now." She smiled and waved me off with her nails clattering against each other.

I beamed back at her, "Oh. Wow. Thank you, miss. Really, thank you. You have an awesome day!"

"You too, honey."

And that's how I got my keys for free. I felt bad for the guy. A public shaming is never fun. I should have shut it down sooner, but then again that last line of his crossed the line of charming right into asshole territory, so whatever.

Sometimes, I guess we can forget that random acts of kindness still occur, both the good ones and the awesome ones. It's a nice thing to know.

Speaking of random acts of kindness, these rice crispy squares certainly fall into that category. Anyone, and I do mean anyone, will simply fall head over heals when presented with a treat like this. Stephanie and I recently came up with this recipe because we had a hankering for the nostalgic treat from our childhood.

Of course, we couldn't leave well enough alone and decided to make these a little extra special. We added the caviar from half of a vanilla bean, a pinch of salt, and the zest from a Meyer lemon to the mix. The result? It took a familiar treat and elevated into a ethereally flavored dessert. I'm not kidding. These things are life-changing. You will never think of a rice crispy treat as a kids dessert ever again and, in fact, I would be proud to take these to any food gathering packed with caterers, food bloggers, and chefs.

In a room of summer panzanellas, pies from scratch, and spice-rubbed ribs these will easily be one of the winners at any summer potluck. Trust me as a one-time pastry cook: these are worth having in your repertoire. Familiar, easy, and cheap to put together I implore you to make these right away. Today. I mean it.

Do someone a good turn yourself.

To see another post on this recipe and far better pics, check out Stephanie's post. Garrett out.

Vanilla Bean & Lemon Rice Krispies Squares

½ vanilla bean
3 tablespoons butter
10 to 12 ounces small marshmallows
2 tablespoons lemon zest
A pinch of salt
6 cups crispy rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies

1. Lightly butter the inside of a 8×8 or 9×9-inch baking dish.

2. Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean half down the middle lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out the tiny beans from the pod and set them aside.

3. In large pot, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. When they are almost completely melted but not entirely, add vanilla beans, lemon zest, and salt. Stir constantly until the marshmallows are fully melted. Remove from heat.

4. Add crispy rice cereal and stir under completely coated with marshmallows. Be careful not to smash the cereal while stirring.

5. Using a buttered spatula, scoop the cereal into the buttered baking pan. Use a piece of parchment or wax paper evenly press the mixture into all the corners of the pan and smooth the top. Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving.


  1. Garrett, you are my new hero. Gourmet Rice Krispie treats!!! And you're right, as soon as the guy decided the wedding band didn't matter, he skated right into asshole territory. Sorry, no means no. Period. No matter how damned sexy he may have looked.

  2. Brings back memories of making Rice Krispies treats with my grandmother. What are the odds this would work with vegan marshmallows from Whole Foods? (I'm not vegan, I'm just allergic to gelatin now.)

    1. I honestly have no idea as I didn't know vegan marshmallows were a thing.

    2. Have you tried Whole Foods Kosher marshmallows? Fish gelatin instead of beef. I like the flavor better than regular marshmallows.

  3. Garrett, I just have to tell you this. I live for Tuesdays ... I love your blog, your recipes, and you!

  4. That was bang-on awesome. And the Rice Krispies treats look really fun, too.

    1. Lot of "bang" word in here today. All of them good.

  5. I think I want that Home Depot key woman with me whenever I get harassed on the train or street.

  6. Hahaha! Love it. Great story. Way to go Nails! Also, nice to know you still got it, eh?

  7. At first I was so excited about the recipe because they look awesome, but then I sadly realized I can't even remember the last time I was hit on. I guess that's what happens when you always have a toddler AND a wedding ring hanging off of you. But still...

  8. I love making variations on a theme with Rice Krispie treats and this variation must be made...and I'm grateful for it.

    But I'm MOST grateful for that woman; that crazy long nailed woman. If only more people would step up and make a scene about right and wrong!! I won't deny I was taken back to when my husband of 20 years announced one day that he had found his soulmate and was leaving me and our girls and he was gone in a week. Where were those voices then, hmm? Nowhere, silence from them all. I sort of liked the public shaming; he deserved it!

  9. Having trouble not laughing in my cube!.....btw, love the recipe. I've taken to subbing half vegetable shortening for half the butter, mmm.

  10. Okay, I'm local to Sacramento and coincidentally I need to have some keys made. Which Home Depot was it? I'd love to give them my business. Go Nails!!

  11. Garret you make me laugh out loud and then I smile all day long. I like the rice krispy treat recipe and I just might bling out my nails!

  12. As always, I love your stories ... and your recipes. Made these today and the house smelled WONDERFUL. Would you believe this was the first time I've cooked with REAL vanilla beans?! What in the world was I waiting for? Delicious.

  13. This is hilarious! You are such a good storyteller, and Nails is fantastic.

    Two things:

    1.) manties (amazing)
    2.) "had I been single I was too tired to really do this." False. I knew single Garrett, and I'm calling him out! ;-)

  14. This is my favorite thing. I love that woman!

  15. hahahaha! Crazy woman with long nails always seem to save the day!

  16. Ha - I love your writing! Thanks for the laugh :)


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