Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!
First recipe I tried this week was a variation of the Cherry Cheddar Bars recipe that appears on page 48 of the Cook’s Country Lost Recipe booklet I picked up earlier this spring. I modified it slightly, using currant jelly instead of cherry (I like currant jelly better and I didn’t have the other anyway) and adding some nuts.
It turned out really well, although a bit intense — it’s not something you can eat loads of in one sitting. It goes very well with tea. And amazingly enough you don’t taste the cheese, it just lends depth to the other flavors.
Jelly and Cheese Bars
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 8 Tablespoons (or 1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar chese
- 3/4 cup current jelly
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Mix flour, brown sugar, baking soda and cinnamon. Mix in the butter and cheese and using either your hands, a pastry blender, or a food processor, mix together until it is a very crumbly mixture and resembles coarse cornmeal.
Spread half the mixture in the bottom of a 9″ pie plate or 9″ square baking pan. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Set pan on a cooling rack, cool for about 10 minutes.
Spread the jelly evenly over the bottom layer. Sprinkle the walnuts evenly over the jelly, sprinkle the rest of the flour, butter and cheese mixture evenly over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool for about an hour before cutting.
This next recipe is based on a couple of variations I saw recently, one in Prevention magazine and the other in Cook’s Country. Both of those recipes added a lot of extra sugar, which I omitted. This recipe is based more on proportions than anything else.
Pickled Beet Eggs
- 1 quart jar of pickled beets
- 2 empty and clean quart jars
- 12 cooled and peeled hardboiled eggs
- 1 medium-to-large yellow onion, sliced into long thin strips
- about 1-2 cups of white vinegar
- about 1-2 cups of water
- 6-9 whole cloves
Take all the pickled beets out of the jar. Split them into three equal portions. Pour the pickled beet juice out of the jar, split that into three equal portions as well.
With the three empty quart jars, fill each with pickled beets, sliced onion, and hard-boiled eggs (four per jar). Somewhere in the middle of filling each jar, add in 2-3 cloves.
Pour the pickled beet juice into each jar. Top up each jar with 1/2 cup or more of vinegar and as much water as need to fill the rest of the jar.
Put the tops on all the jars, shake each jar well, and refrigerate for 1-2 days before eating.
I don’t like pickled vegetables much, or raw onions either. But I tried this mixture earlier today after it had sat for 2 days, and it was all really good.
And here is a roundup of some really interesting articles I saw the last few days:
(Article may require a subscription to see the online version) Shawarma, Ready-to-Eat: Arab Cuisine Invades Camp Pendleton, by Tamara Audi, in the March 12 2010 Wall Street Journal. The story is about a husband and wife who have started up an Arabic food stand in the Marines base at Camp Pendleton. The business is doing quite well, given that there are now a lot of Marines there who have served in either Afghanistan or Iraq and are happy to find a place that serves the food they grew used to over there.
The wife of the couple, Denise Hazime, also runs the popular website Dede’s Meditteranean Kitchen. Her video for making hummus is the top internet hummus video, and while I haven’t watched it yet, I intend to do so soon. (Hummus, vegetables and sliced pita was one of my favorite appetizers at the McMenamin’s restaurant chain in Portland, Oregon.)
(Article may require a subscription to see the online version) Hit the Floor and Give Me a Dozen…Pillar Bridges, by Kevin Helliker, in the March 16 2010 Wall Street Journal. Mr. Helliker is a very fit individual, following the standard recommendations of strength training and cardio for his workouts. For the article, he spent a month with personal trainer working on core muscle training, and found it to be quite a bit more exhausting than he expected. But even with less time on the treadmill, he’s running better and he’s dropped body fat.
Even better yet, his neck and shoulders don’t ache for the first time in a long time — a condition probably caused by him focusing most of his muscle-building activities on the muscles in the front of the torso and then sitting in chair hunched over and staring at a computer screen. And his posture is better too.
While I’ve never got to a core muscle or Pilates personal trainer, I’ve worked through some of the workouts in a couple of Pilates books. And with regular practice, I found the same benefits as Mr. Helliker — better posture, less neck and shoulder pain, overall better endurance. I am glad to see he got similar results.
In his story he says there are currently not many large-scale studies on the benefits of core muscles training versus other types of muscle training. But that most trainers do consider them to be essential. It will be interesting to see what the results are of any large-scale studies in that regard.
And speaking of pillar bridges — there’s the article (which does not require subscription) The Man Who Wants To Kill Crunches, by Patricia Treble in the January 19 2010 issue of MacLean’s. The article is about the work of Stuart McGill, the professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo. To sum up the article (which is well worth reading in full), McGill’s work has led him to believe the spine can only take a certain amount of abuse and massive repetitions of sit-ups and crunches are unnecessary abuse that wears the spine out early and leads to premature disk failures.
McGill does think that core muscle strength is important, but says there are lot of exercise, such as pillars, planks, bridges, and others, that will strengthen the core and abdominal muscles just as much without hurting the spine.
And finally there’s this article (also not requiring subscription) from The Praire Star — Irish Fare for an Authentic St. Patty’s Day Celebration by Marie Hoyer in the March 10, 2010 edition. No, I have not had a chance to try any of the recipes there, although I still want to try my hand at pasties sometime. But the article is worth marking just for this end quote:
“It is said the devil never crossed the Tamar into Cornwall on account of the well-known habit of Cornish women putting everything in a pasty, and that he was not sufficiently courageous to risk such a fate.” — from Cornish Recipes, Ancient and Modern.