Posts Tagged 'camp'

Pipe Dream #201: To Be a Teambuilder – Salted Caramel Crumb Bars and Raspberry Crumb Bars

crumble bars 3

If only everyone could eat fruit and streusel always. Wouldn’t that be happy? I mean, the world might not be fixed (there is Jesus for that), but emotionally, circumstantially, people might be affected. Maybe. I would be affected. No one ever said I wasn’t an emotional baker.

crumble bars 2

This recipe starts as all crumble bars should, a butter-flour crust flavored with a hint of vanilla. As it turns out, the streusel topping is just some of the reserved crust dough, so this actually comes together really quick.

But the filling of the bars is where you can feel free to live a little (raspberry jam and lemon). Or live a lot (sea salted caramel and pecans). I tried both versions in the same because I wanted efrything all at once (a perennial problem for me). The soft, shortbread-y crust is the perfect vehicle; it let’s the more delicate raspberry flavor shine, but also cuts through some of the richness of the caramel. The crust is like the ultimate white plate: simple, multi-functional and classic.

That being said, I did find the bars to be a little crumbly, so I’d look for something a little different next time. Plus, I forgot to add a bit of water to the reserved topping mixture, so the topping didn’t clump as I would have liked. We live and we learn, I guess.

crumble bars 1

Now, about this pan-splitting technique. I think it is pretty clever, though I don’t know to whom to credit its genius. Possibly I read about it  in this one cookbook I have with a recipe for a Battenburg cake that I’m too intimidated to make…but I can’t be quite sure, so I guess I’ll just have to claim the credit for being a genius? :]

Anyway, it’s fairly straightforward: just fold up two squares of parchment and let them meet in the middle, creating a seam. When you press the crust into the pan, they will stay in place so that you can fill each side with your desired fillings.

One note: I filled the caramel side a little fuller than the raspberry side, so it kept wanting to spread out past its boundaries. Just make sure you fill the two sides evenly so that they can lean on each other. It’s like those team-building exercises from summer camp where everyone has to hold hands and lean back to keep each other standing on a too-small platform? If one person doesn’t lean back enough, everyone falls. Do you know what I’m talking about? If not, gravity. Team-building, gravity crumb bars.

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Another note: make sure to let the bars cool fully after you take them out of the oven. The caramel and jam will be a little runny if you don’t, and heaven knows you want to keep as much of that in the bar and off the floor as possible.

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This recipe is for anyone who never feels quite satisfied and wants everything, all at once. It is also for someone looking for an afternoon slice with their tea. It is also for scientists at heart who appreciate the laws of physics. Ok, it is basically for everyone. It is on the Internet.

Until there are Jesus clouds,


Basic Crumb Bars + Flavor Ideas

Adapted from Tutti Dolci

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
heaping 1/4 teapsoon baking powder
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup s white sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 9″ square baking dish with parchment paper. If you are making two variation of the crumb bars, place two sheet of parchment that meet up in the middle, dividing the pan in two.

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl.

Beat butter and sugars in a large mixer bowl at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture until just combined. Reserve half of the dough for topping, and press the remaining dough evenly into bottom of the lined baking dish.

For toppings, you might add a 1/2 cup of raspberry jam, warmed in the microwave for ten seconds. I also tried a handful of chopped pecans, and then made half a batch of this caramel to go over it.

Top the bars with the remaining crumbs and bake for 20 minutes, or until the crumbs are just starting to brown. Let cool, then slice into bars. You can also drizzle with a little glaze if you like.

Vultures, A Disjointed Triptych

This was a really good morning.


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bird 1

bird 3

Spring Sprang Sprung, Throwbacks, Poems

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It’s almost time for endless flowers and insects. Today is such a good day! Just think about it!


Psalm 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.




flow 1

Favorite Shot: Spring Begets

Spring Begets Bugs, An Equation

Spring=End of May=Almost June

Almost June=Summer=Camp=Camp Bugs.

Therefore Spring=Camp Bugs



Pipe Dream #80: To Only Be As Integrious As Is Practical – S’mores Bars

I have been meaning to make these bars for a long time. “Bars”—the general term for anything baked in a 9×13 pan that is not a cake—are so classic Midwest, and s’mores are so dear to my heart. Having eaten these bars a number of times before at camp, I thought making them would be a highly palate-rewarding cinch. I was wrong, mostly.

I once told you that the key to baking is under-baking. While this is still a true statement, my dear Reader may note that I am sometimes prone to taking my own integrity a little too far. In the case of these bars, I took my own rule of thumb a bit past its purpose. I underbaked them.  By a lot. I was still getting used to the Celsius conversion convection oven, ok? Say ‘Celcius conversion convection’ five times fast.

But! Up from the ashes grew the roses of success (name that movie)! They still turned out to be super fabulous because my commanding officer told me I could put them over some spare clotted cream vanilla ice cream they had in the freezer. P.S. “Clotted cream” ice cream just means “really creamy ice cream.” It was awesome. Scooping 200 portions also gave me carpal tunnel, but that is another story for another day.

The dough was extremely sticky and hard to spread.  Megan, my lovely helper, was far better at spreading it than I. It is likely that I did not put enough dough in each pan, as the bars were a little thinner than I remember them. My calculations are all out of whack. I don’t know what I’m doing. Also, in my fluster I grabbed margarine, not butter. Someone please help me.

I would have preferred to have a few more chocolate chips and marshmallows to spread. Half of the marshmallows melted because they were weird English marshmallows, but they usually puff up and brown nicely.

The final result was similar to cookie dough ice cream with marshmallow sauce, which, as we all know, is the best possible thing you could be eating on a Wednesday night.

Hello, my love. It is so nice to know you.


S’mores Bars

Adapted from camp

Makes two 9 x 13 pan full of bars, or one large 2” jelly roll pan.

2 2/3 cup white sugar

1 3/4 cup butter

4 eggs

2 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour

2 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups chocolate chips (mini chips, preferably)

5 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray pan with non-stick spray (or you can butter the pan).

Blend sugar and butter until blended. Add eggs, beating until well mixed and creamy. Add the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt and mix until well blended.

Spread dough in pan and bake for approximately 10 minutes until set. And really, do bake it 10 minutes or suffer my fate. Bad news. Sprinkle chocolate chips, then mini marshmallows over the dough and return to the oven for another 10 minutes, or until marshmallows are puffed and slightly brown.

Cool and cut into bars. You may find it helpful to spray your knife with non-stick spray so the marshmallows don’t stick to it.

Pipe Dream #74: To Never Use A Box Mix Again – Minted Cocoa Brownies

There is something significant about a brownie that is one part brownie to two parts frosting. Perhaps it is a dire significance. It seems incredible looking at this picture that I and a few other people actually ingested these when our eyes could clearly see what was in front of us. The sheer audacity of 3/4 of an inch of frosting is absurd on paper. But in person…it was irresistible.

The brownies in this recipe are divine. They are dense and fudgy and rich and wonderful. Even without the frosting, they would be wonderful. I will never use box mix brownies again! Well, maybe in a pinch, but now I really have no excuse.

This is a picture of the batter from a previous making. I’ve had these brownies a few times before, you see. I just added it in because it is pretty. I hope you don’t mind.

Here was the batter from this time.

Ok, you got me, I put in two batter pictures to try and tempt you. Just make these! They are awesome!

I was so glad I could find peppermint extract. The lady who wrote the recipe assured me that if I used mint extract instead of peppermint, my frosting would taste like toothpaste. She was adamant. It would have been un-stomachable.

A finishing touch? Oreos. As if these weren’t already perfectly awful.

Have fun! Go running!

With your best interests at heart,


Minted Fudge Brownies

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
⅓ cups cocoa
4 whole eggs
1-½ cup flour
½ teaspoons salt

¾ cups butter
1 pound (4 cups) powdered sugar
3 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 drops green food coloring (if desired)

For the brownies, melt sugar, butter, and cocoa together in the microwave (or in a janky double boiler like I did) until fairly hot. Stir to combine and then cool slightly. It’ll look a bit gritty until you add the eggs. Add eggs, beating well after each egg, then add flour and salt and stir to combine. Bake in a 9×13″ pan in a 350ºF oven for 25 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, mix ingredients together with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy. Frost cool brownies. If you want, you can sprinkle the top with crushed Oreo pieces like I did, or you could drizzle it with chocolate.

Pipe Dream #70: To Be So Biased – French Bread

France and its bread are inseparable. Like peanut butter and jelly, I will forever associate the two with each other. This is likely because of my American upbringing. All we know about France is bread and the Eiffel Tower. And our ‘French bread’ is probably not really like the real thing. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy this bread. It is soft and mild, with a pretty dense feel to the crumb. It doesn’t have oodles of flavor, though. All in all, it is a good bread for a slather of egg salad or jelly.

Technically, I didn’t make this bread; I just helped cut it. But I cut it on the bias. So that makes it special. Trisha is double special, though–she gave me the skinny on the recipe and made the bread err week like a pro.

Ain’t she for cute? You could be this cute if you made french bread. Try it and just see. You could post a link to the picture in the comments section. Or just say hi. Whatever teeters your totter.



French Bread

Adapted from Trisha from camp

Makes 2 long-ish loaves

2 packages yeast

2 1/2 cups water

1 teaspoon sugar

6 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine water, sugar and yeast in a medium bowl. Let stand for five minutes. Combine flour and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast mixture (sponge) and mix with the dough hook until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It will be quite sticky.

Transfer dough to a well-floured surface and knead until dough just comes together. Form into loaves and place on a jelly roll pan, or place dough into loaf pans. Bake at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

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