Lessons in Shortbread

Yes, we’re back at it. Let me rephrase that. G is back at it. We need shortbread in our lives and he’s going to be in charge of perfecting it.

I wrote about Ina’s shortbread last year, but it didn’t work for me. I’ve gotten so many shortbread recipes from so many people, but I just can’t seem to make them work. We have a high standard we are hoping to match: the hazelnut shortbread we had in England. It was almost 20 years ago and we still can’t quit thinking about it.

3/4 pound of butter (Ina’s recipe calls for unsalted, but whatever)

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. Slowly add the flour and salt. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured surface, shape into a flat disk, about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes, until firm, but still pliable.

Roll the dough 1/2 inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar if you rock that way. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown.

****From the Recipe Box:

I’m stepping back and putting G in charge of shortbread cookies. I can’t get them right and he has the touch.

Chilling the dough is key!

This is Ina Garten’s recipe and we haven’t changed a thing except where noted.

and remember: Stop trying to be liked by everybody.  You don’t even like everybody.

Big kiss, Lynn

Roadtrip Redux

(since I’m missing my roadtrips)

(before and after)

I was watching Andrew Zimern’s Bizarre Foods the other day and he was touring the Mississippi Delta.  The Hunka-hunka and I took Route 61 through the Delta a few years ago as well.  I love the Blues and wanted to feel the origins.  We did not stop for Kool-Aid brined dill pickles like Andrew did, but we did see them and it made me go “HUM?”.  I’m married to a non-pickle eater.  I know, where did I go wrong?  He doesn’t like mustard either.  What can I say?

Since I love both flavors, I decided I should do some experimenting even if it was just for me.   Colorful dill pickles/summer time, a match made in heaven.   Kool-Aid dills are called koolickles in the South.  Clever.  I looked at half a dozen recipes before I discovered they are all basically the same.

Ingredients1 jar (32 ounces) whole dill pickles, undrained

2/3 cup sugar

1 envelope unsweetened Kool-Aid mix, flavor of your choice (Cherry turned out to be my favorite)


  • Drain pickles, reserving juice. In a small bowl, combine the reserved juice, sugar and Kool-Aid, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
  • Slice pickles; return to jar. Pour juice mixture over pickles. Discard any remaining juice.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 week before serving. Store in the refrigerator up to 2 months.

Most online recipes suggest starting with a gallon jar of pickles.  I used a half gallon, because I didn’t need that many koolickles in the house. Simply drain the brine into a clean jar, add in a packet of cherry Kool-Aid and 2/3 cup of sugar.  Shake the jar until the sugar dissolves.  I used sliced dills for maximum surface exposure and I thought they would look good on a hamburger patty; I wanted as much surface as possible to receive the cherry Kool-Aid.  Return the sliced pickles to the pickle jar or a wide mouth Mason jar, and place it in the fridge for at least one week and up to a couple of months.

and remember what Muddy Waters sang about the Hoochie Coochie Man:

The gypsy woman told my mother
Before I was born
I got a boy child comin’
He’s gonna be a son of a gun

Muddy Waters was my first blues album and I love him still.

Big kiss, Lynn

Jam Tart

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Cow-a-bunga, we had company this weekend. I can’t even tell you the last time someone stopped by. Fortunately our darling sous chef is coming every other week for cooking lessons, but usually we don’t have a lot of adult type people.

We’ve had snow and ice for days, so that’s been keeping everyone at home, us included. If you don’t live in the Northwest, you probably think we’re a bunch of sissies when it comes to snow, but there are no flat spots here. We have great ski areas, but when you can’t even make it up to the passes you know you’re in trouble.

So, G and I decided we needed to have a few treats in the freezer in case someone else shows up. Our fingers are crossed.

This recipe is basically the jam bars grown up.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1 stick melted butter

1 ½ cups flour

1 ½ cups old fashioned oatmeal

½ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon baking powder

A pinch of salt

1 egg

1 jar Belle Maman jam

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except jam.  Beat at a low speed until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Set aside 2 cups of the mixture (about half). Press the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of a greased and parchment lined 8×8″ or 9 x 9” pan.

Spread jam on top of crumb mixture, leaving ½” of edge on all four sides.

Once you’ve spread a layer of jam, crumble the reserved crumb mixture on top. Bake 40-50 minutes or until lightly browned.

*****from the Recipe Box:

You don’t even need to get your mixer out if your hands are able to wield a wooden spoon.

I wrap the whole pan uncut and put it in the freezer.

I used Wild Blueberry Jam and found it a little bland.

G says too much oatmeal.

and remember: I dusted once last week and it came back. I’m not falling for that again. Big Kiss, Lynn

Steak Salad

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It was G’s birthday this weekend. I know, what a crummy time for a birthday. We had steak, broccoli and boiled potatoes to celebrate. Our local grocery store is often out of items when we want them, so I have to put things in the freezer so they will be ready when needed.

The pandemic has so changed the way we celebrate things. We used to have big parties and have a great time. This is now a thing of the past. Neither G or I see this changing back in the near future. I’m verklempt. I do love a good party.

As much as G loves steak, I enjoy steak salad. My favorite dressing is olive oil and balsamic vinegar reduction. If I run out and don’t have time to make my own, I usually buy Nonni’s. Although to be totally honest, I put that on every salad. I put blue cheese, parmesan, fruit, tomatoes, etc. on our salads. I make a decent crouton too, but it’s like gilding the lily. Don’t limit yourself to “greens” when there’s so many options out there.

*****From the Recipe Box:

It’s Christmas here, so I’ll get back to you in a week or so. I have games to play and movies to watch with the gkids. This is my idea of a riotous time in the age of Covid.

and remember: Have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy your family time. Big kiss, Lynn

Jam Bars

Easy Jam Bars {using Rhubarb or Lemon or Blackberry}

You get my drift. I love Belle Maman jams so of course I went with those.

So why do Norwegians love jam so much? My mom used to have toast with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese and jam, my cousin’s favorite snack is Wheat Thins, cream cheese and raspberry jam. I like pancakes with sour cream and Lingonberry jam. I don’t know if it’s our sweet tooth problem or what.

So, I found this recipe online and decided I needed to check it out. It reminds me of a date bar, but it’s definitely sweeter.

Easy Raspberry Bars

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except preserves (flour, sugar, pecans, butter, and egg). Beat at a low speed until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Set aside 2 cups of the mixture (about half). Press the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of a greased 8×8″ pan.

Spread raspberry preserves on top of crumb mixture, leaving ½” of edge on all four sides.

Once you’ve spread a layer of preserves, crumble the reserved crumb mixture on top, like a pile of snow.

Bake 40-50 minutes or until lightly browned. If serving as a crisp, serve warm with a scoop of ice cream. If serving as bars, allow the pan to cool completely, about 1 hour, then slice into bars.

*****From the Recipe Box:

It definitely needs the cooling time to get an adequate slice.

and remember:

I feel like my greatest accomplishment today is not saying what I’m thinking out loud. Big kiss, Lynn