30 years. 3 decades. 1,565.32 weeks. Even more days, hours, minutes, and seconds. 30 years of heart beats and breaths. 30 years where smiles have outnumbered frowns. Laughter has been abundant. Tears have been rare. Cities have been explored and oceans have been swam. Miles have been walked, ran, and flown. Friendships forged and loves lost. There have been high hopes and big dreams alongside stinging disappointments and slight blunders.
While the past 30 years (especially the previous 5+) have seemingly flown by with little resistance (and I am sure the next 30 will do the same)…I am honestly and wholeheartedly looking forward to this upcoming decade. I would be lying if there haven’t been moments in the past year where I have slightly freaked out about turning 30…they weren’t moments of comparison between my position in life and that of others. We all lead different lives at varying paces. However, do you ever feel like you are just tumbling along like a rogue sock in this big dryer called life? Yeah…moments of feeling lost in the shuffle have made me apprehensive about turning 30. I guess I always assumed 30 year olds didn’t tumble. 30 year olds knew what they wanted. They walked confidently. How naive my younger self was. While I don’t feel like I am tumbling about, but have gracefully graduated to gentle stumbling…I think learning how to confidently walk is what awaits me/us in our 30’s. And you are silly if you can’t find the joy in that.
Birthdays have a tendency to be celebrated with layered cakes and multiple scoops of chocolate ice cream and rivers of hot fudge and mountains of whipped cream and showers of sprinkles. However, after I recently had a rather heated (ha!) text message conversation with a friend over the best cake flavor (chocolate versus spice), we both realized that cake was our 4th favorite dessert. Who argues over their 4th favorite dessert? Pies, cookies, and brownies are favored over cake…all day, every day. So, on this 30th birthday of mine…there will be no cake, but a dessert I have made no less than 5 times in the past 3 weeks. A favorite of mine? Perhaps.
The simplicity that is a crisp is why I favor this dessert in the spring/summer. A few cups of fruit that is hanging about the house, tossed with some sugar, a thickener, and perhaps a squeeze of a lemon or lime…topped with a quick crumble and in no time you have a dessert that will please everyone and anyone. Young and old. Friends, coworkers, and family.
Plus, when you have a friend who supplies you with bundles of rhubarb because it grows in abundance behind her house ( I give thanks to whoever owned the house prior to her … we would have been fast friends as well) and when the strawberries are sweet and delicious … my mind can think of nothing else besides strawberry and rhubarb. Rhubarb and strawberry. It is the only thing I have been pumping out of my kitchen.
So, while I enjoy a bowl of warm strawberry rhubarb crisp and say adieu to my roaring twenties…I am giddy and anxiously awaiting what my 30’s will have in store for little old(er) me. Cheers!
- Crumb Topping
- 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, melted
- 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
- ¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
- ¼ Cup Brown Sugar, tightly packed
- pinch of salt
- 2 lbs Strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
- 2 Cups Rhubarb, ½ inch dice.
- ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar (less if you like it tart)
- 3-4 Tablespoons Corn Starch
- Juice of 1 lemon or lime (if you don’t have citrus, just omit – it’ll still be awesome, trust me)
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Prepare topping first: In a medium bowl, combine all crumb topping ingredients and mix until well combined. Place in refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Prepare filling.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss together strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, corn starch, and lemon/lime juice. Carefully toss to combine.
- Pour filling into 9 inch deep dish pie plate (or an oven safe dish that will hold this amount of filling – casserole dishes work well).
- Carefully spread chilled crumb topping over fillling.
- Placed in preheated oven (place a baking sheet/tinfoil below baking dish to catch any drippings) and bake for about 45-50 minutes until the top becomes golden brown and the juice around the edges are bubbly.
- Remove from oven and let cool before serving.
- Store at room temperature loosely covered.
Food is quite the memory jogger. A trigger of sorts. Much like music. Or certain smells.
I don’t know if everyone is like this, but I want to think that a warm chocolate chip cookie takes everyone back to their childhood – I think my first memory of a chocolate chip cookie and looking back, probably the first time I took comfort from food or felt love through its simple preparation, was when our first childhood dog – ‘Puppy’ – original, I know…died.
I was curled up on dad’s lap in our old gray (it wasn’t old yet) recliner and I was sobbing and mom, from the kitchen, offered to make cookies – ‘maybe that will make us feel better’. I don’t remember the taste of the cookies or if we even ate them that night – I am sure we did, with large glasses of milk and spoons to fish out soggy lost bits and pieces. What I remember, as dad sat reassuring us that Puppy was in heaven causing ruckus up there, was that mom, while also mourning the loss of her beloved dog (even though she would holler and throw spoons in his direction from the back door when he would bark and howl), took time to bake us cookies – hoping they would ease our tears and cheer us up a bit. Which, I am sure they did.
Cookies have that sort of power. Especially if mom is making them.
Oatmeal Scotchies … guess what..you got it, comes with a memory. Like any cookie, they remind me of my grandma. As most things I bake do, but these are most definitely a Shirley memory. On Wednesday evenings, grandma had church choir practice or perhaps it was the Women’s Society meeting…all I know, is that she was at church on Wednesday nights and the church was just 2 blocks from our house. Therefore, Wednesday nights always guaranteed a visit from grandma and she normally brought a bake good ( and I wonder where I get this habit from). Cookies or pie. And if it was cookies…4 out of 5 times, they would be chewy oatmeal scotchies.
As grandma and mom sat and chit chatted and gossiped … we 3 kids scarfed down cookies, leaving just crumbs behind. Sore jaws and crumbs.
I hadn’t had an oatmeal scotchie in years. Years! Quite devastating, seeing how the recipe for these magic little guys are on the back of the bag of Nestle butterscotch chips. And when something is this good, there is really no need to tinker with the recipe. Well, I kinda did…I added roasted pecans, because pecans kind of rock in cookies. No?
Of all the cakes, cookies, and pies I have taken into work…I believe these cookies received the most hubbub. The container was returned with a pleading of it being refilled with more. People were hiding and stowing away cookies in lockers. They were being eaten 2 and 3 at a time. I wanna believe it was because these cookies were not only chewy and delicious, but because their flavor and texture and slight hint of cinnamon took them back.
Back to grandmas, school lunches, after school snacks, Wednesday nights.
- 1 Cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
- ¾ Cup white sugar
- ¾ Cup, light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1¼ Cup flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ Cup Roasted Pecans, roughly chopped
- 3 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
- One 11-oz bag butterscotch chip
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, cream together softened butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, until incorporated. Beat in vanilla.
- With mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until incorporated – the dough will be tacky.
- With a wooden spoon, stir in the oats, pecans, and butterscotch chips.
- Drop rounded spoonfuls of dough onto parchment lined (optional) baking sheets and bake for 7-8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9-10 minutes for crisp cookies.
- Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool.
Adapted from Nestle TollHouseRead More
The week following a vacation is generally just a melancholic blur of work and laundry and grocery shopping and laundry and healthier eating and memories of warmth and sunshine. This goes for vacations lasting the usual 7 days or those extending towards two weeks and/or particularly those cut short at 3 or 4 days, the so-called long weekends.
This week was that week. Where nothing truly gets done, but one in which I feel exhausted and sleep deprived and a tad bloated and all sorts of hungry…hungry for butter and sugar and ice cream. Not carrot sticks and tuna salad. Ugh…so easy to fall out of a good habit and quite the struggle to jump back in.
Disney was great. The race was great. The weather was great. The food was great. The company was great. And the ears…I became slightly obsessed.
I look good as Mickey.
First off, Happy December!!
Second off, I think I am going to get rid of my TV service. WHAT?!? It’ll be OK. I think. I am not going to usher TV out of my life completely, but I am ushering out cable. Why may you ask? Because I might be crazy.
No, in all seriousness, I no longer want to pay ( too much!) for a service that I try not to use. I try not to watch TV on most days. I am not one of those people who can have the TV on in the background and go about my business. I have tried. I have failed. TV sucks me in and before I know it I have spent an entire afternoon watching reruns or cleaning out my DVR. And that DVR. It is awesome, but it is one more thing in my life that I fall behind with. It becomes another task on my to do list. It doesn’t free up my life, it just makes it more cluttered.
So, heads up if you are visiting. Bring movies, TV series, a board game, or maybe a book. It’ll be OK. Promise.
If you come to visit, I promise I’ll bake you these cookies. You will forget that I don’t have cable.
They are another oatmeal cookie. Looking over my cookie recipes…oatmeal is popular in my life. What can I say, it makes for a great cookie. These are chewy. Oh so chewy. Jaw tiring chewy. OK, your jaw may only tire after eating your body weight in them, and at that time, I would recommend stepping away from the cookies. It is for the best. Trust me.
I must give credit where credit is due and this recipe is from my aunt. Is she still considered my aunt if she is no longer and has not been married to my uncle for some time? I don’t know the proper etiquette here, but she is still my cousins mother and therefore she is still my aunt. These are her cookies. She is quite the baker/cook herself and she graciously passed along the recipe for these to me last spring. Thank you! I just wish the recipe had come with some will power…ahhh cookies! The only alteration I made was the addition of pecans … Which is totally an optional ingredient. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Pecan Craisin Cookies
Makes 3 to 4 dozen
1 Stick Butter – room temperature
1 Stick Margarine
1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 Cup White Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 +1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
3 Cups OLD FASHIONED ROLLED OATS
1 Cup Craisins
3/4 Toasted Pecans, roughly chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
In a large bowl, beat together margarine, butter, brown, and white sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Set aside.
In a smaller bowl, stir together flour, salt, and baking soda. With mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat until combined. Remember to scrape down the side and bottom of bowl to get and even mixture.
With a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in the old fashioned oats, craisins, and chopped pecans, by hand. ( didn’t know you scheduled an arm workout today, did ya?…my aunt says this is the key step!!! Continue to cream together ingredients until all ingredients are evenly mixed in. This takes some elbow grease, but totally worth it!
Scoop cookie dough out onto a ungreased (or parchment paper lined) cookie sheet – these do spread a touch so leave a few inches between each cookie. Bake in preheated oven for 13 minutes to be exact. Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for 3 to 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.
These can be enjoyed right away or stored in an airtight container or frozen. They freeze very well.
These are not my first attempt at granola bars…
It is true. My first attempt was not exactly a failure, as the end result was delicious and devoured. However, we didn’t eat them in bar form. More by the spoonful. Oh and we didnt have a spoon. We shoveled the granola into our mouths by the handfuls on said trip to the east coast….You know the technique. Pour a bit into palm and then bring palm to mouth. Quickly. The poor New Jerseyans who witnessed my cave woman ways. There really is no other way to eat granola while driving. Shrug.
Do you suppose the difficulty of eating granola on the go was the reason for putting it into bar form? Yeah, the bar was created exactly for the problem we encountered. Quaker Oat Man was a genius. I tried. I wanted to be genius-like, with the Quaker hat and all. I had good intentions, I sorta fell short. I retried. I succeeded. I want a Quaker hat. I earned that darn hat. I wish, we as a people, would wear hats more often. But, that is another discussion for another time.
If I become president (of anything)…hat wearing will become a law. Just a warning.
How did we get on the subject of hats? Sorry, it was me. I have a bad habit of getting people off track, including myself.
I suppose you could consider these nutritional. Whole grains, dried fruit, and nuts. Good substitute for any breakfast on the go or carb attack at 3pm. You know, when you are sitting/standing at your work computer and you are hungry enough to eat your own arm or bite someone’s head off. Yep, these might get you through the afternoon without any carnage.
Serves about 10 to 12 bars
2 + 1/2 Cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup Wheat Germ
1/2 Cup Flax Seed
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
1/2 Cup Almond Slices
1/2 Cup Pecans
1 + 1/2 Cup Dried Fruit ( I used dried strawberries, cranberries, and raisins)
1 + 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
6 Tbsp Butter
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
1/4 Cup Honey
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Almond Butter
pinch of Salt
Preheat oven to 350°F.
On a baking sheet, combine oats, wheat germ, flax seed, almond slices, and pecans. Place in oven for 15 minutes, stirring half way through. When toasting is complete, transfer dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Add the dried fruit, coconut, cinnamon, and salt.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring butter, maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla to a boil and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in almond butter. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Transfer mixture to a 8 x 8 pan (or 9 x 13 for thinner bars) lined with parchment paper. Press mixture firmly into pan. Place in oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely. I recommend cooling overnight in the fridge before slicing.
Wrap individually in parchment paper or place in sandwich bags.