As a student of Buddhism, I allow that change is one of life's certainties. But here's another - a savory, nostalgic, cinematic certainty. The Star-Lite Drive-In.
Having occupied its niche of the Blue Ridge since 1953, with bright neon sign, bulky metal speakers and retro snack bar standing guard, the Star-Lite is getting ready to start another season.
In support of the upcoming Memorial Day opening weekend, loyal Facebook fans gathered recently for the 2nd annual clean-up day.
Since a previous engagement also known as my paying job prevented me from attending, I baked these cocoa-rich shortbread stars to fuel the volunteer spirit.
The recipe is from Hershey, of course, and has just a few ingredients, being a shortbread cookie. I had to wonder at their designation of advanced skill level, though. It's definitely easy and could be even simpler by baking in the traditional shortbread round!
Cocoa Star-Lite Cookies
1 stick of butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-3/4 C plain flour
1-1/4 C conf. sugar
1/2 C cocoa
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Cream the butter and add confectioners sugar and vanilla, betting until creamy. Add cocoa, blending well before gradually adding flour, stirring until smooth.
Roll out onto floured surface, about 1/4" thick and cut into shapes. The butter in shortbread precludes having to grease the pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until firm. Cool slightly on baking pan before moving to wire rack and cooling completely. I got 2 dozen stars from this recipe and enough dough into the freezer for an easy round sometime in the future.
Now that clean-up day is done and Memorial Day will be here before you know it, make plans to take your kids, your sweetie or your BFF out for a movie under the stars. Bake some cookies, pack a picnic, or plan to hit the snack bar for the Best Chili Dog You Will Ever Eat, along with fresh popcorn, hot fries and a soda. If that doesn't tempt you, look at the prices:
When I was a kid, Mr. Beasley, whose daughter Peggy now operates the Star-Lite, would always greet us at the gate. He seemed to look over our family of 6 and come up with what he thought was a fair total. Even in my young mind, his multiplication always landed in our favor. Some years later, my little brother spent a hot summer there, throwing dogs together at an unimaginable pace. Folks still slip in during the film, just to get supper and be on their way.
Today, Karen Clark Nagy organizes the Star-Lite Facebook fan page, where you can get showtimes and movie information. Check it out and I'll see you there this summer. I might even share my cookies. But not my hot dog.