In the 15 years or so that I've been traveling to Maine for Christmas, there's been an old Currier & Ives popcorn can full of Nuts & Bolts there to welcome us. Nuts & Bolts are the Reed family version of Chex Mix, and like all good family recipes, there's an extra special secret ingredient that makes the concoction irresistible.
The can starts out full and generally hits empty before we leave. Which is fine because we always have a bag sent home with us.
This year's production was apparently halted early and never got back on track -- a discovery made on Christmas Day. While the lone daughter in the family received not one, but two bags of the treat, her poor brothers (occasionally considered to have a few screws loose) were also bereft of Nuts & Bolts.
It was a great mistake, in my opinion, though, because Grandpa not only insisted on getting back into full production, he also agreed to share the recipe -- and the secret process -- with Alison, his more than willing sous chef.
The follow are excerpts overhead from the kitchen:
"Hey, Grandpa, is it OK that the Rice Chex box is bigger than the Wheat Chex box?"
"Grammie always said the Chex people had made exactly the right size boxes for our recipe."
"What does Grammie's recipe say? Two gray bowls and a handful. That's what we need because we always have to follow Grammie's recipe."
"How's our mah-gerine doing?"
Hey, Grandpa, what's "whis-tis-chir usually used for?
"Well ... it's used in Nuts and Bolts."
Alison was in charge of mixing. "We need a good cultural diversity. Give it a good stir. Ah, excellent: you're an expert Nuts and Bolts maker."
They got it in the oven and apparently were quite pleased with themselves.
"I like making Nuts and Bolts with you Grandpa."
"I like making them with you, too. I don't have Grammie here to help me anymore so this is kind of special."
"I think it's kind of special, too."