Cherry Streusel Squares... cleaning out my freezer

Life Lesson this week:

I have been watching someone whom I'm around quite a bit flounder.  It's difficult to watch and frustrating when there is nothing that you can do to help.  Sure they're young and they're going to be fine but I've learned some valuable lessons watching things unfold despite my frustration.
The first lesson that I learned was that people tend to do one of two things when confronted with a problem, especially one which makes them feel insecure.  People seem to either reach out to those around them who can help them or they retreat - probably out of sheer terror.  This lesson was an important one for me because I have typically fallen into the 'retreat' category.  Watching someone else do what I might have done not so long ago was like an epiphany.  I realized that this person wasn't helping themselves or the situation by retreating.  They would have learned so much more and gained so much valuable insight and tools by looking to the people around them.  Most people are willing to help and many will go above and beyond if they see you are motivated.  Good lesson Wanda.  I have decided that I need to change and become the first kind of person.
The second lesson is one that I've only recently articulated to myself.  That lesson is (boy this sounds dumb) that we don't live in isolation.  We live with people and around people almost all the time.  Aside from those well needed retreats that we all crave, this being around people thing is pretty good for us.  It's great in fact.  Rubbing shoulders with people who have different opinions and ideas than I do, different struggles, different religions, different backgrounds... it's amazing.  It helps us be better people.  Connecting with the people around me (love them or hate them - let's face it) makes me AND them a better person.  Huge lesson for me.  Realizing that I need these situations.  This is life and this is a necessary part of life.  As necessary as food and water.  Without feeling connected to people and a community I would shrivel up and die.  The crappy situations are just as if not more important than the good ones.  I've done more learning about myself in the last year than I have in a long time... thanks crappy situation.

Now onto recipe:
I was perfectly ready to hate these squares.  I was really waffling about them.  I was looking at  cherry swirl muffins - sounded too boring though.  I thought about cherry pound cake - but the pound of everything can be kinda off putting.  I discovered that there are tons of cherry square recipes floating around in cyber space and spent a significant portion of time checking  some of them out.  I just couldn't decide.  
Then there is the whole 'sweets' thing that I've been going through.  Thinking that maybe my sweet tooth is ebbing.  The thought of something cheesecakey or super-sweet-topping-y didn't turn my crank.  I wanted something that I would be able to take to work and feel almost good about eating.  You know, not to feel that I've just make myself sick eating this overly sweet crap.  So, at the end of the day (quite literally - which will explain some of the whack pictures), I slapped together a couple of different recipes and then changed it again from there.  I was afraid it would turn out like total crap and that I would hate it and have to bake something else for the week.   I didn't though.  I loved it.  These were amazing.  Connecting - it's all about connecting.

Cherry Squares adapted from 'Two Old Crabs' and 'Bake or Break'
makes one 9x13 pan of squares

Bottom Layer

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups cherries (I used canned cherries and drained them)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp sour cream
grated zest of 1 lemon

Streusel Topping: you can also check it here.
3 parts flour (eg. 1 cup)
1 part sugar (eg. 1/3 cup)
2 parts cold unsalted butter, cubed (eg. 2/3 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease or butter a 9x13 inch pan and set aside.
In a large bowl (or mixer bowl) combine butter and sugar and beat until fluffy and creamy.  Add in the flour and continue to beat until it's all mixed together.  Add the salt and the vanilla and mix.  Spoon the batter into the greased baking pan and spread evenly.  Set aside.
Combine the cherries, sugar, flour, sour cream and lemon zest together.  Spread over the batter and press down slightly.
Combine all the ingredients for the streusel topping using two forks or a pastry cutter - until the mixture looks like crumbs - and sprinkle about 1/4 cup of it over the top of the cherries.
Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is golden and the it feels squidgy when you press on it.
Remove from oven and cool for about 10 minutes before cutting.

Corn Chowder turned Freezer Vegetable chowder

I always seem to have this holiday thing upside down, backwards... just plain wrong.  I post bread on Valentines day.  I post crackers and brussel sprouts over Christmas, not a roast turkey or ham in sight.  And now, for shrove Tuesday I post... chowder (?)
I had to post this.  There I was just last week spouting off about how much this soup changed my life (and, well, it did) and now, this week, it seems so long ago.  Away in the distance.  A far off memory.  Why, you ask?  Because then I tried this soup.  Oh my... this soup.

The soup itself was born out of my continued commitment to go through the veggies that I froze during last summer's bounty.  I'm not someone who looks to fill their larder or their freezer (such as it is) and then watch the things sit their gathering dust feeling smug with myself for doing such a great job.  I want to see that I use it up.  Empty it out.  I want nothing left by May or so... just in time to start really appreciating the fresh stuff that should start rolling in.  Besides, I want to see what we go through so we can gage what amounts were just right (Green tomato and tomatillo salsa), what amounts were too much (canned pears) and what amounts were not enough (tomato and also -gulp- beet pickle). So the jars in the cold room are slowly dwindling down and the piles in my freezer are beginning to diminish and I'm feeling smug with myself.

Not to be overlooked was the fact that I was making this bread and we all know that soup with fresh bread is pretty much one of the best combinations we can put in our mouths.
In a perfect world I would have loved this to be a seafood chowder but I'm boycotting seafood right now so it was out of the question for me.  However, this turned out so well and showcased the veggies so well that I think seafood might have been a bit much anyway.  I put 2 rashers of bacon into this puppy but if you are vegetarian and it's 2 measly slices of bacon holding you back from experiencing the earth shaking bliss that is this soup, then by all means leave it out.  You must.
Admittedly, I didn't make this soup on shrove Tuesday but I will be eating it on shrove Tuesday.  I made waffles on Friday, does that count for pancake day?  Whateve's.  I'm happy with my soup.  (Just for the record, I am officially breaking 2012 resolution #1 and am posting with kids around AND after having had so little sleep it's really quite ridiculous to even refer to it as sleep.  Let's see what this post looks like after I've had a good nights sleep - Oh Jeez)

Corn/Vegetable Chowder
adapted from Naparima Girls Diamond Jubilee Cookbook and Family Bites
makes about 5 - 6 cups of soup

1 med/lg leek, thinly sliced
2 med/sm carrot, diced
2 med/sm ribs celery, diced
1 cup potato, cubed
2 slices bacon, diced

1 cup Corn (I used frozen)
1 cup Green Beans, cut into small pieces (I used frozen - you could also swap for peas)

2 cups broth
1 cup milk (could make it 1 1/4 easily)
3/4 cup cream
1 tbsp dill
1 tbsp thyme
1 1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 tsp pepper sauce or cayenne (optional but it really adds something)

Heat a heavy bottomed dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat.
Add the diced bacon and a little extra oil if necessary (I did).  Once the bacon is just starting to cook and brown then add in the leeks, carrot, celery and potato.  Turn the heat down a bit and sweat the vegetables (my newly adopted phrase for cooking the veggies but not getting them all browned and over-cooked) for about 6 minutes or so.  Once the veggies are starting to look mostly cooked then add in the corn and the green beans.  Cook for another 4 - 5 minutes.
Add in the broth, milk and cream and stir.  Turn down the soup so that it is just barely simmering and add the dill, thyme, salt, pepper and cayenne or pepper sauce.  Check the tastes and adjust as necessary.
Once the veggies are completely cooked serve immediately.

Red Fife Oatmeal Bread... Twice in One week

I've been sitting here thinking about what I wanted to write today.  I'm rolling around things.  Typing a sentence and then deleting.  Then I asked myself, 'If these guys were sitting here in my kitchen with me what would I talk about'.  I guess that it would depend on the person but mostly I would be all over the place, filling you in on my life, on how I'm feeling and what's going through my head.  It would probably sound pretty random.  Sometimes that's all I've got though.  Random stuff floating through my head.  So, pull up a chair, grab a cup of something warm and comforting and let's have a little convo...

1.  I saw in a post recently that the author was celebrating her sons half birthday... it took me a few minutes to process the information.  I thought it was her kids birthday and then when I read it again I really 'saw' the half part in front of the word birthday.  What's a half birthday.  How is that even a thing?

2.  Kid #2 went to a birthday party recently at this place.  It's hell.  I can't think of a better way to describe hell.  It's loud.  It's too warm.  There is lots of screaming and crying and the food sucks.  Yup.  Hell.  I actually went to a Mall just to escape it.  A MALL!

3.  I have a kindle.  When I first got the kindle I put quite a few cookbooks on it thinking that it would be perfect.  I hate it.  I hate reading recipes on a kindle.  I love reading on a kindle... but not recipes.  I've decided emphatically... no more recipe books on kindle.  Real pages only.  Something about the picture quality, the way the recipes are laid out - the page turns, recipe searches... all completely sub-par on a kindle as far as I'm concerned.

4.  I've been reading  - on my kindle - this book lately and this quote really hit my gut.  'While we are all entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts...'  The author is writing this in reference to the whole Christian v. Science debate.  Like I said, blew my mind.

5.  My BFF is going to be a foster parent very soon which is awesome.  It's been a long process and it's about time that something happen for them.  I'm thrilled... and scared and a little sad and jealous.  That's hard to admit (I haven't even admitted it to her yet so I think I'd better get on that) and I've only recently just realized it.  I want the very best for her and she is in this 120%.  I'm just scared and jealous that I won't have a BFF any longer... I'm such a bitch AND a baby - once again... all about ME.  KT xoxoxo

6.  Sometimes parenting sucks.  I think that when you have these babies and little kids you think it's pretty intense but it's all gonna be good and that you can balance everything and be a super-hero and all that crap.  Then they start to get older and want to do stuff and you want them to do it too and even though you always said that you hated those parents who just taxi their kids from thing to thing you find yourself wanting to do it and hating yourself all at the same time.  Screw it... I want to be a pioneer.

7.  It's family day weekend in Ontario which means Monday is a holiday.  The good news, I get an extra day to make lots of stuff and take lots of pictures.  The bad news, the food box delivery isn't happening until Wednesday this week (as opposed to the usual Monday delivery).  In my food box this week I'm getting some awesome bread... but not until Wednesday.  I need bread... NOW.  So, I'm at it again.  Not a bad thing because I was thinking about the bread I just made a few days ago and I was wanting to tweak it a little bit.  Well, just change it up a bit.  So, essentially it's the same recipe just using Red Fife flour instead of whole wheat and soaking the oats before adding them to the dough.  The result... it was cool.  Not much different from the last one.  I found that the bread didn't last well - by day 3 it was feeling stale, still usable but definitely not as fresh.  Use this one up quickly.

Red Fife Oatmeal bread adapted from King Arthur Flour
makes 1 loaf

1 cup red Fife flour (or whole wheat)
2 cups all purpose or bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
3 generous tbsp honey
1 1/4 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup milk
1 cup rolled oats

Combine the Red Fife flour, all purpose flour and salt.  Set aside.
Combine the 1/4 cup milk and the rolled oats.  Set aside.
Combine the lukewarm milk, honey and yeast.  Stir to dissolve and then set aside in a draft free place for about 10 minutes to proof (so that the yeast can activate and get all frothy and yeasty smelling).

After 10 minutes combine all the ingredients together.  Stir to form a dough ball.  Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes.  Dough should be silky and smooth.
Place in a lightly greased bowl (stainless steel or glass/ceramic work best).  Cover with a clean cloth and place it in a draft free (slightly warm) place to rise for about 55 minutes.  It should almost double in size.
Knead it down long enough to form it into a loaf shape and place in a lightly greased loaf pan.  Cover with the cloth and let it rise again for about 75 minutes or so.  It should come up over the top of the loaf pan, forming a dome like you would expect bread to do.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the bread in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and it sounds hollow when you knock on it.
Wait for about 15 minutes before slicing.
This will keep for about 3 days so if you aren't using all right away you might want to cut it in half and freeze the other half.

Powered by Blogger.

Archivo del blog

About Me

My photo
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

My Favourite Cookbooks

  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
  • The Silver Palate Cookbook
  • More-with-Less Cookbook
  • Moosewood Cookbook

About Me

My Photo
Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
View my complete profile



Blog Archive



FBC Member