14 February 2011

Family recipe Monday: bar cookies

Badlands in a February thaw

Still life with snowmelt, Badlands

I have no idea what happened to the weather out here in the hinterlands, but we are in a strange and wonderful February thaw. On Friday, it was positively balmy, and a few of us desperately cabin-fevered museum staff jumped into the Suburban and headed out for a day trip to Badlands National Park. We were delivering a few non-critical things, such as collections records, and one desperately critical item: a whole case of Girl Scout cookies for the Badlands museum staff. Apparently the Girl Scouts didn't get out to Interior, South Dakota, yet, and our colleagues were pining away for Thin Mints. I felt like a rider for the Pony Express, urging the steed on to get there in time before our gallant colleagues collapsed. Mission accomplished.

It was a gloriously pretty day. We took a little time to walk around the Fossil Trail to take in the sunlight and scenery under a blazingly blue sky. It could have been spring. The rabbits and deer had clearly been out in the melting snow, as had someone else, possibly a coyote. We are six weeks away from the return of the cranes, and there could be lots of winter weather left to come, but Friday was a preview of spring and we were glad to be out for it.

Warmer weather is a good time for dragging out the lighter recipes. Bar cookies are good weekend baking projects. You don't have to have any particular skill for rolling and cutting or for dropping cookies--just bake them in a shallow pan and worry about the cutting after they cool. These are older recipes, so make substitutions in the ingredients as necessary. Bar cookies are good for potlucks and other gatherings.

Apricot bars

¾ cup oleo
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. salt (optional)
2 cups flour
1 can Angel Flake flaked coconut
1 cup nuts

Cream oleo, sugar, egg and vanilla. Combine flour, coconut, nuts and salt. Reserve 1 cup of flour mixture and add remaining part to egg mixture. Spread this mixture in 9x12” floured and greased pan. Flour on your fingers makes the spreading easier. Then spread 8 oz apricot preserves over mix--don’t get it on edges of pan. Then crumble the 1 cup of reserved flour mixture over top. Bake about 30 minutes. Cool before cutting.

Quilting bee special lemon bars

2 cups flour
1 cup butter
½ cup powdered sugar
6 T lemon juice
4 T flour
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder

Cream together the 2 cups of flour, butter and powdered sugar. Pat evenly into a 10”x15” pan and bake 15-20 minutes at 350*. Beat the eggs until thick and lemon-colored. Add lemon juice and sugar. Continue beating. Add 4 T flour and baking powder. Pour over baked crust. Bake 25 minutes or longer at 350*. When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Happy Monday, happy Valentine's Day. Spring is on the horizon. Honest.

Ice crystal impressions in mud, Badlands National Park

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