Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How to Bake a Perfect Life

As I passed by the book area at Target I was drawn to the shelf labeled: Emerging and Notable Authors. It won't surprise you that I picked the book How To Bake A Perfect Life by Barbara O'Neal. The title certainly was intriguing. It is a novel about the bonds of mothers and daughters and grandmothers celebrating food and family. The author skillfully tells the story from multiple perspectives:Ramona, a professional baker who owns a bakery that is barely surviving an economic crisis, her daughter Sophia who is pregnant and finds out her husband is wounded in Afghanistan and Katie, their 13 year step daughter who comes to live with Ramona. They all face multiple challenges as it seems their lives are turned upside down by a chain of events. The author was clever interspersing the storyline with Ramona's love of bread making, and sharing bread recipes to capture the attention of foodies.
The following is a quote from the author in the introduction I liked...
Most of us are trying our best to bake a life worth devouring-with love as the flour, laughter the water, forgiveness the yeast, and tears, of course as salt.
Continuing al fresco dining the best part...D for dessert
The following recipe was adapted from Cuisine At Home
I really was quite pleased with the results and even liked it better than Key Lime Pie. If you followed my blog in February at that time I posted a Key Lime Pie recipe. I noted that it was a stretch to make this pie when not in my own kitchen but a rental in Florida. "Real"key limes are small (looks like Brussel sprouts) and I was quite challenged to get the juice extracted not having the right tool. So when I saw this recipe I vowed not to have the same problem again. I posted a picture of my new juicer tool and the bars. By the way don't stress yourself out looking for real key limes regular fresh limes work just fine. Just do not use bottled lime juice!
Key Lime Bars
Crust ingredients:
  • 1 jar macadamia nut, ground(3 oz.)
  • 2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies (I tested with Old Fashioned Gingersnaps Murray brand found in cookie aisle-used about 3/4 of the bag-best result using Cuisinart for crumbling) graham crackers could be substituted for cookies
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 TB. brown sugar
  • 5 TB. melted butter
Directions for crust
  • Mix all ingredients and pat into a 13 x 9 pan
  • Bake @ 350 for 10 minutes and set aside
Filling ingredients:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk, each can 14 oz.
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice about 8 limes
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Filling Directions:
  • In Cuisinart add eggs, condensed milk, juice and vanilla
  • Might have to let filling mixture set a few minutes so there are no air bubbles before pouring into crust
  • Pour filling into crust and bake 20-25 minutes @ 350-make sure filling is set
  • Cool to room temperature then chill
  • Bars will cut better if cold
Topping options:
  • white chocolate shavings
  • whipped cream served with berries on the side
  • lime wedges
  • chopped macadamia nuts
Tomorrow post will be Black Bottom Pie which originated in the American South. When looking at some history of the recipe I found out that some people feel the pie's components illustrate the rural south at the start of the 20th century. The dark cookie crumb crust signifies dirt roads while the custard filling represents the swampy lowlands of the Mighty Mississippi. Anyway you look at it this pie is a chocoholic's dream!

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