Saturday, July 9, 2011

Starting from Scratch and an Almond Bar Recipe

No one lives long enough to learn everything they need to learn starting from scratch. To be successful, we absolutely, positively have to find people who have already paid the price to learn the things that we need to learn to achieve our goals.

Brian Tracy

After reading the book Starting from Scratch by Susan Gilbert-Collins I was inspired to try an Almond Bar recipe that has been in my collection for quite some time. So long I am not even sure of the source.

The device of using recipes in novels has become rather popular the past few years. This book will interest those who like food stories with a serving of a good plot to accompany it. Olivia the main character has finished presenting her dissertation in graduate school when she receives news of her mother's unexpected death. As the story unfolds we learn more about the dynamics of Olivia's family, the legacy Olivia'a mother Vivian has left behind and how each family member comes to accept their loss. Unexpectedly along the way Olivia discovers her journey in life leads to a new path.

This is Ms. Gilbert-Collin's debut novel. The setting is Eastern South Dakota particularly Brookings so the book often resonates with cultural identity with its references. I thought the book was well written and enjoyed how the author was able to incorporate Vivian's mother's food legacy and Olivia's self journey and discovery.

Almond Bars


  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup softened butter (not margarine)
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Directions: If you love sugar cookies and almonds then this is the recipe for you!

Note that after making dough I chilled it in refrigerator for about an hour so it was easier to handle

  • Beat softened butter and sugar. Add egg, almond extract, baking powder,salt and flour
  • Beat until well mixed
  • On a lightly greased cookie sheet divide chilled dough into fourths(quarters)
  • Form each into a 10 x 3 rectangle-will need to use rolling pan to get that size or put flour on hands and pat that dough to that size
  • Brush very lightly with butter and bake 325 for 13-14 minutes or until edges start to brown
  • Cool 15 minutes on cookie sheet and frost with almond frosting and sprinkle with crushed almonds on top-cut into small pieces and place each piece on a wire cooking rack to cool

In a bowl mix: 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp. almond extract, 4-5 TB. milk

Blend well and frost, if really like almonds could increase extract to 1/2 tsp. rather than 1/4 tsp.

The recipes makes about 30 small pieces

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