Monday, April 28, 2014


I grew up with my mother sometimes referring to the sticks of Parkay and Blue Bonnet in our fridge as "oleo." An older lady we knew called it "oleomargarine," which a little online sleuthing tells me is the original name for a butter substitute developed in France using mostly beef fat and vegetable oils. Over time, it seems that the commercial recipe for margarine, as it came to be known, was altered several times due to availability of ingredients, but ultimately came to be made up of mostly oils.

As a kid, those sticks of oleo were whipped into cookies and baked into cakes. Tubs of the spread were slathered on toast and just plain old "bread and butter." It was what I knew and what, at the time, I liked. We didn't eat real butter in my childhood home; which now that I think about it seems a little odd since my mother also made weekly pilgrimages to an area dairy for fresh, whole milk for the her large family. But, that is probably a topic for another blog post.

Today, I came here to talk about oleo...and what it has come to mean to me. As an adult, my home has evolved into pretty much a butter only refuge. There are stray sticks of margarine that make their way into the house for a very select few recipes that benefit from the higher water content, but overall, 99.9% of our consumption is butter. I have come to prefer the flavor of real butter. Blame it on the marketing of the dairy council, but when I now hear the word "oleo," my mouth fills with the feel of grease. I don't want margarine. At all.

So, it was a little shocking (and honestly, as snobby as it may seem, a little revolting) when I saw a television commercial for a major drugstore brand of shampoo announcing its newest therapy for hair, Oleo Therapy. Umm...what?!? I know that beer, mayonnaise, eggs, avocados, olive oil, and recently, coconut oil have all been brought out of the kitchen as beneficial products for our follicles, but OLEO? I doubt that the product does actually contain margarine; who wants to smear I Can't Believe It's Not Butter on their head? But, seriously, is there nobody on the L'Oreal marketing team that remembers oleo as margarine? I don't get it. Oleo Therapy doesn't seem like a spa-quality product to me. It seems like a mouth full of grease. I won't be rushing out to treat my hair to Oleo Therapy.

I could possibly be rushing to treat myself to Graham Cracker Bars made with real butter. This is a slightly different take on the classic Saltine Toffee Bars. Graham Crackers are layered with toffee bits and almonds before being drenched with a syrup of melted REAL BUTTER and sugar. The bars are baked to a bubbly goodness and then topped with chocolate chips and flaked salt. Simple and delicious. Not a mouth full of grease. 
Graham Cracker Bars at On My Plate
Graham Cracker Bars
(adapted from Everyday Food)

13 graham crackers
1 bag (8 ounces) toffee bits
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped toasted almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Preheat oven to 350F. 
Line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange graham crackers in a single layer on sheet, edges touching. 
Sprinkle toffee bits and almonds over graham crackers.
Bring sugar and butter to a boil over medium-high. 
Reduce heat and cook at a rapid simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is syrupy, 2 minutes.
Immediately pour over graham crackers. 
Bake until sugar topping is bubbling, 12 minutes. 
Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate and salt over graham crackers. 
With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut into 2-inch squares.
Let cool completely. (Serves 24)


  1. Helloooooooooooooooo! I haven't written to you in years......3 or more to be exact.....we moved to the Black Hills 3 years ago and I haven't kept up with much online. I also remember oleo.....I even remember a little package of....I suppose the fatty stuff.....that was white. Mom would have us kids take turns massaging the packet that contained a small capsule of yellow something that turned the oleo yellow. I don't keep margarine products in the house either except, as you said, for a special recipe.

    I am going to keep checking in here. I like to read your entries and the recipes are inspiring.

    Sandy in the Black Hills formerly Sandy in Winner ;o)

    1. So glad to see you back, Sandy. I have wondered if you gave up the internet with your move to the Black Hills. I have missed your comments!


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