27 October 2012

The Kitchen Journal 7

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. More information at the welcome post.

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I've been busy with work and haven't had time to do sit down and read a book of food writing or to relax with a new cookbook. I have, however, been cooking and drinking.

Wine: We've been having fun trying new wines. Our strategy is to go to the liquor store and buy what's on sale, taking our chances. Two new-to-us wines that we enjoyed are Stemmari Nero D'Avola Sicilia 2010 and Parker Station Pino Noir 2009. The Stemmari had mild tannins and nice fruit flavor. But I need to warn you that this seems to be an inconsistent vintage, because the second bottle wasn't as good as the first. The Parker Station had spicy notes and maybe cherry. We found it light and tasty.

Fruit and vegetables: It's full-on apple season here and I've made several pints of applesauce to stock the freezer. I plan to make apple crisp this weekend and dried apples next weekend (I have a dehydrator). In sad news, I've picked up my last CSA basket of the year. We got plenty of root vegetables and squash to last a few weeks, but I always hate having to return to the grocery store.

Cookbooks, Food Writing: I have a small stack of foodie books I'm looking forward to reviewing. Three on the very top of the list are Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever, Bitter Brew by William Knoedelseder, and Risotta with Nettles by Anna Del Conte. The first is a cookbook that concentrates on (duh) vanilla. I'm learning a lot and will share in a few weeks. Bitter Brew is about the rise and fall of Anheuser-Busch and Risotto with Nettles is a memoir by a well-known British cookbook author. Both look really good and I can't wait to dig in.


Baking: Recently we had a craving for something sweet, but I was feeling a bit lazy. Then I remembered this easy treat that is tasty and quick to put together (if you ignore the time for cooling). I found this years ago when a friend of mine discovered that she was gluten sensitive. You'll see that it calls for peanut butter, which I can no longer eat (drat late-life allergies). I make it with Sunbutter, a peanut butter substitute. I bet it's even better with the real thing. Unfortunately, I didn't save the source for this recipe. And I think I must have had an extra glass of wine that night because all my photos were blurry or otherwise unusable. Ooops!

Surprise Bars
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix the oats, sugar and butter in a large bowl. Press into a 13 by 9-inch baking sheet with 1-inch sides. Use an off-set spatula, your hands, or a rolling pin to fill the pan and even out the mix. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until just golden brown. Let cool completely.

Melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter together and mix well. Spread on the cooled cookie base and chill in refrigerator until the topping hardens. Cut into whatever size squares you'd like.

These freeze well.

32 comments:

bermudaonion 10/27/12, 6:23 AM  

Is it necessary to drink wine while you make the surprise bars? lol Those do sound good and easy to make. I have the vanilla cookbook too and it makes my mouth water every time I look through it.

Uniflame 10/27/12, 6:27 AM  

Those bars sound great! I haven't tried making bars myself yet, but I need to do that someday soon.

Also I am looking forward to the review of that vanilla book!

Pierce 10/27/12, 6:51 AM  

That would be some surprise if you brought some over (hint, hint)...Butter, peanut butter ND chocolate chips?! Some of my favorite food groups.
That Pure Vanilla book is on my Goodreads list (I think) bit I couldn't deal with nettles. They are common here and burn so much when you touch them.

jama 10/27/12, 7:21 AM  

Yum, I'll take some of those bars! And is there anything better than the scent of vanilla?

(Diane) bookchickdi 10/27/12, 8:12 AM  

I made an apple recipe for my family this week too. I was so happy to find a Cooking Light recipe for Apple Cinnamon Cake that I used to make for my family. You have to love the internet- recipes that you think were long gone can be found if you remember the source.

Amanda 10/27/12, 8:53 AM  

Can you use almond butter or some other nut butter, or do these new allergies pertain to ANY nuts? Jason has always been allergic to walnuts and pecans, but over the last five years, he's slowly developed allergies to all other nuts except peanuts and cashews. The others make his mouth itch and upset his stomach for days, so it's not a life-threatening allergy, but not a good one nonetheless.

Belle Wong 10/27/12, 8:55 AM  

The surprise bars sound delicious - and I love the name! And I can sympathize with your late-life allergies. I had almonds earlier this year and discovered I now have a sensitivity to them.

I love food memoirs, and Risotto with Nettles looks interesting.

Beth F 10/27/12, 9:05 AM  

@Amanda, @Belle: So far it's only peanuts. My face breaks out in an unpleasant rash the next day. So not at all life-threatening, but so annoying to someone who never had an allergy before and who ate peanuts all her life. I can eat other nut butters as long as they were manufactured in a peanut-free factory.

Joy Weese Moll 10/27/12, 10:05 AM  

We'll get CSA boxes a few more weeks. It will be mostly root vegetables and squash, though. And applesauce. I get so many jars from my CSA that I can't justify making very much for the freezer -- I kind of miss it.

Fay 10/27/12, 10:24 AM  

Looking forward to your comments on the Italian cookbook. I expect to be cooking more Italian food in the coming weeks and months.

Anita 10/27/12, 11:06 AM  

I'd like to see that book about Anheuser Busch, my family moved to St. Louis when I was 6 and the brewery and family was everywhere in that town!
The bars sound amazing...yummm.

Carol @ Always Thyme to Cook 10/27/12, 11:36 AM  

Too bad about the last CSA box. I just found a very tiny Farmer's Market locally, but only until November. Looking forward to the reviews, especially the Vanilla book. The surprise bars sound so good!

picky 10/27/12, 12:52 PM  

Make some almond butter! It is so yummy and easy, and that way you can know it hasn't touched any peanuts.

And it cracks me up that your pics were unusual because of wine. That sounds like me. :)

Also, that Pure Vanilla book has me craving vanilla icing. Yummm.

Tasha B. 10/27/12, 2:23 PM  

Yum, apples. You should make applejack!

Chris 10/27/12, 7:15 PM  

Those Surprise bars sound delicious and easy!! going to have to try them out :) And I think I have all of the ingredients at home right now! Even more of a win! Sorry to hear about the CSA :( It is a bummer to have to go back to the grocery when you've been getting such good, fresh produce and you know exactly where it came from.

Peaceful Reader 10/27/12, 8:01 PM  

There is so much about this post that I love. The wine tasting sounds adventurous. I would love a look at that vanilla recipe book; it truly is one of my favorite ingredients. The last CSA basket, I'm sure, is bittersweet and the bars sound like something I could make quickly for my crew! Have a great week.

Heather 10/28/12, 6:47 AM  

I love all your strategies. And those bars sound fantstic!

Heather 10/28/12, 6:47 AM  

Or maybe fantastic. lol

Charlie 10/28/12, 9:02 AM  

We had a bit of produce from our own plants this year, and grocery stores just don't compare unfortunately. Looking forward to next year in that way! The bars sound really good, I like the mix of ingredients.

Christine 10/28/12, 9:45 AM  

I love your kitchen journal posts, Beth!

I adore vanilla so I look forward to your comments on that particular cookbook for sure.

I have to second Diane's recommendation for that Cinnamon Apple Cake from Cooking Light. I have been making that same apple cake FOR YEARS and everyone and I mean EVERYONE loves it and asks for the recipe. I make it several times every year and in fact... I have the recipe out on my cookbook stand right this very minute. I'm hoping to bake it today so we have something comforting to eat while we brave hurricane Sandy. yikes!

Gnoe (@graasland) 10/28/12, 9:47 AM  

Oh noooooos, your last CSA of the season ALREADY?! I know yours stops earlier than ours but each year it seems to have been moved forward. ;) We're lucky enough to get local veggies until the week before Christmas - now that feels like a long time to go... :\

That snack sounds easy and delicious!

Nan 10/28/12, 10:52 AM  

I can't believe A-B ever fell. Bud is huge. I did a search and found out that Bud Light has shellfish in it! I wonder if it is labeled for those who are very allergic. Scary.
I wish I liked beer since the names are so neat. :<)
As for wine, I buy it mostly by the fun labels. Real connoisseur here!

Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez 10/28/12, 1:50 PM  

Oh, sunbutter...that sounds fabulous! And yup, it's full-on apple season here, as well. =)

Becky 10/28/12, 2:14 PM  

Those do sound really simple. Thanks for sharing!

Chinoiseries 10/28/12, 2:53 PM  

Oh, I'm so envious of you having a dehydrator, Beth!! What do you use it for, except for drying apples?

Too bad your CSA is ending for this year :( I wonder why they don't continue with other seasonal veg and fruit? Like cabbages and root vegetables, and apples?

Andi 10/28/12, 3:43 PM  

The surprise bars sound yummy! So easy, too. I have all the ingredients on hand ready to go the next time we're craving sweets.

BettyRants41 10/28/12, 6:29 PM  

Those sound both easy and delicious, two of my favorite things! Thank you!

Sue Jackson 10/28/12, 6:51 PM  

Same here - last week for our CSA - so sad!! But we also have a few root veggies and squash left. We are lucky to also have a little local produce store nearby, so I still have an alternative to the grocery store veggies!

The sweet recipe sounds yummy - with those ingredients, it must be good! Might try that while we are stuck inside with this storm this week :)

Speaking of that, my sons say they want some brownies...

Sue

Book By Book

Julie P. 10/28/12, 8:11 PM  

I made a gorgeous apple pie today with the (almost) end of my apple stash -- see facebook! And then I made a tomato based risotto for dinner. I'm on a cooking roll too!

softdrink 10/29/12, 9:16 PM  

These posts always make me hungry! I'm looking forward to your thoughts on the vanilla book...that is one of my favorite flavors.

Michelle Shannon 10/29/12, 11:48 PM  

I love the idea of trying different wines based on what is on sale. I've found a few good ones that way too. Your surprise bars sound fantastic too. I'm hungry now!!

Alice Teh 10/30/12, 1:09 PM  

I fell in love with the Italian language and now its cuisine. I bought me some cookbooks! LOL

I'm loving yours too!

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