Matti Friedman‘s book Pumpkinflowers recounts an unnamed war on a small hilltop in Lebanon in the 1990s, a hill guarded by a band of young Israeli soldiers. Though the war has nearly been lost to history, Friedman relates the ways in which it changed these soldiers and their county, and he documents the birth of a new, modern style of combat and the rise of conflict in the Middle East.
His compelling and profound book has earned distinction as a New York Times Notable Book of 2016 and hit No. 8 on Amazon’s Best Books of the Year list. And the rave reviews and praise come from Matti’s ability to take readers inside the lives — before, during and after — of the young men on “the Pumpkin,” that hill in Lebannon.
One small bit: He details how the outpost had a few cooks who had developed “security zone delicacies like corn flakes doused in melted chocolate.” Here’s a recipe, inspired by the book. It’s a reminder that even amid difficult days, people find ways to create simple joys and support with one another.
Chocolate-covered Corn Flakes
Chocolate (bittersweet, semi-sweet, milk chocolate or a mixture)
Sea salt flakes or fleur de sel, Shredded coconut, Chopped nuts, Sprinkles, Dried fruit (chopped), Toffee bits, Confectioner’s sugar, Halva, finely chopped
1. This recipe’s quantities are extremely adaptable. Keep a ratio of 1 cup of cornflakes to 4 oz. of chocolate, and you can make as much or as little as you want.
2. Pour cornflakes into a bowl, and set aside. If you are using add-ins that you want to have covered in chocolate (rather than as a topping), like dried fruit or nuts, mix these into the cornflakes.
3. Line a pan with parchment paper
4. Chop the chocolate and put 3/4 of it in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave uncovered on high for 20-30 seconds. Remove the bowl, and stir the chocolate. Unless the chocolate is mostly melted, return the bowl to the microwave and heat for another 30 seconds. Stir, then heat in 15 second intervals until the chocolate is mostly melted. Once it is melted enough, add in the remaining 1/4 of the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is uniformly melted and smooth (if it doesn’t all melt, return to the microwave for 5-10 seconds).
5. Pour the chocolate over the cornflakes and quickly fold the mixture together, taking care to keep the flakes intact.
6. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the lined pan. Sprinkle with any additional toppings, and allow to cool until the chocolate hardens. Cooling can also be done in the refrigerator.
7. Peel the mounds off the paper and serve.
(Recipe courtesy of the Jewish Book Council.)