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  • Today was a good day. This view, from the top of our road, certainly helped make it so.
  • I think the 48-hour flu I've been fighting has finally succumbed to my assault of grapefruit seed extract, osha root, propolis, elderberry syrup, Oscillococinum, apple cider vinegar, rose hips, hibiscus, ginger/lemon/honey/cayenne tea, and neti pot with goldenseal tincture. I don't take getting sick sitting down. And now, a winter storm, possibly. Bring it, I say. Happy weekending, friends!!!
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  • I've been waiting, for a book like this, to come into my life. Whoa. Picked this up a few weeks ago at @screendoorasheville as a New Year's gift to @glennbenglish. Just started reading it myself and it couldn't possibly be more of what I need to see, right now. Completely on point, wholly attuned to what I'm presently sensing and curious about and inspired by, and infinitely humbling.
  • Warm enough today to play soccer down in our lower field, do a bit of weeding in the garden, and push a nearly-too-big 4 year-old in his
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  • @shelterprotectsyou has been posting images of the wedding she and @sheltercollective had here in September all week. They built this altar for the ceremony, and it's still here, just past the house, on the way to the chicken coop. We pass it every day. Some days, I casually note its beauty and the way it feels like an outdoor church here in our forested cove. Other days I barely register it as I scurry about, doing this and that around the property. Today, though, in the stark, grey, drizzly setting, it was quietly regal. Happy to have had her visuals prompt me to stop, look, and listen to this physical testament to love.
  • The chickens told me they much prefer the rain this week to last week's frigid weather, thank you very much. I couldn't agree more.
  • These potatoes @tableasheville changed my culinary life. They called them hash browns, but they were unlike any I'd had before. Par-baked perhaps, smashed into halves I'm guessing, and then roasted and maybe finished with a quick fry in the skillet and scattered with large sea salt granules? Whatever the method, the result was a creamy, yellow center and a crispy, salty exterior. Quite possibly the best hash browns I've ever had.
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Bar None

I’m obsessed with the New York Times rapidly changing headlines today. Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch are in trouble, facing sell offs and liquidation. Honestly, I’m not really sure what that means, but I find it ominous. This is giving me pause way more than the Hadron Collider rev up did. I find myself reading the Times articles, silently clucking my tongue in concern, having no idea what they are actually saying. 


I read yesterday, in a loosely related article, about a couple working for Bear Stearns before the crash that had just purchased a $35,000 pair of drapes. If you’re spending that much on drapes, you’ve probably got a nest egg hidden somewhere, but you might also have a bit of a skewed perception about money. In an attempt to stave off concerns about a global market meltdown,
 and to stop fluttering back to the NY Times obsessively, I want to share a highly successful recipe with you. Needing to make use of some local fig and blueberries last week before they went bad, and having eaten as many of them fresh as I could stuff myself with, I decided it was time for an oat bar. 
My inspiration came from one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen, who created an oat bar with raspberries that, had I a pint on hand, would have been my filling of choice. Sorry figs and blueberries, but it’s true. 

A ground up oat and butter base was topped with a fig, blueberry, and orange center, and then sprinkled with a nutty oat and spice topping. The result was heavenly. Glenn said they were “really good, sweetie.” That sealed the deal. When something turns out just so-so, he declares either “that was good, sweetie” or, worse, “that was fine, sweetie.” Though always finished with “sweetie”, I’m quick to note the subtext. “Really good, sweetie” means I hit it out of the park. And so can you. This was truly easy to make and bakes up a good sized batch, for sharing or hording, your choice. 

Blueberry, Orange, Fig & Oat Bars

 
For crust and crumb:
-1 1/4 c. 
-3/4 c. light brown sugar
-1 1/2 c. rolled oats
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. baking soda
-1 tsp. cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. nutmeg (freshly grated, if possible)
-1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp. butter, refrigerated, cut into little cubes
-3/4 c. toasted pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)


For the filling:
-1 c. fresh figs, diced
-1 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen
-1 Tbsp. orange zest
-3 Tbsp. light brown sugar
-1 tsp. cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. nutmeg (freshly grated, if possible)
-2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
-1/3 orange juice (made with juice from orange used for zesting; may need 2 oranges)
-1 Tbsp. melted butter


-Preheat your oven to 350. Butter or oil a 9′x13′ metal or glass pan. I actually oiled my pan with coconut butter, but you can use whatever you’d like. Tear off a piece of parchment paper long enough to hand slightly over the top of your pan. Butter or oil the parchment paper on top and sides.
-In a food processor, place all crust ingredients except for the butter. Pulse in bursts until combined. Add the butter and pulse until crumbly. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of this mixture. If you’d like, add toasted pecans or walnuts to the reserved topping. 
-Put the rest into the pan, and press down with your hands until level. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes.
-While crust is cooling, in a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, orange zest, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add figs, blueberries, orange juice and butter; toss to coat. 
-Spread filling on top of cooled crust and sprinkle with reserved topping. 
-Bake for 45 minutes, until top is golden brown.
-Cool. Remove bars from pan by lifting parchment. Set bars with parchment on top of a cutting board. Cut into 20 small or 12 large bars.

2 Responses to Bar None

  • Sarah says:

    i was checking the Times headlines on my phone. At lunch. In a restaurant.
    i wonder if i could make these delicious bars with plums, cause thats what i got rotting on my self.

  • Byron Belzak says:

    Thanks for your on-the-money thoughts. Many of us are wondering is this the end of Wall Street as we know it, and what will replace it? Credit card companies selling investments? I posted your comments on DowntownAsheville.com for others to consider. The immensity of this crisis is only beginning to sink in.