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oh, the great thrill of the oatmeal bar. i love you. that lovely combination of crunch, of soft, of oaty chew, and of jammy goo.

nothing like evening sunshine slathered between oats and sugar

this week has been craziness. delightful, social, warm. i feel like spring has sprung, for real this time, leaving me barely a moment to stop and admire the beauty of the outside transitions. i feel like the bees: scattered, busy as ever, eager, humming along.

somehow, i managed to make some oatmeal bars in the midst of current crazy. these bars, dear friends, took me to the stars. how calming and basic! jam bars have been on my “to-do” list for quite some time. with lots of jams in our fridge, i wanted a fun way to work them out into the world more creatively than on a piece of toast. so these bars came in three varieties: strawberry (made at nanny and poppy’s last summer, with the crimson jewels we picked together which also debuted in these muffins… i wanted to finish the jam before strawberry picking 2010!), pink banana squash marmalade, and apricot jam. my favorite? the pink banana squash, for sure. that giant squash appeared in so many culinary creations, how i’ll miss it! good thing we’re growing some on the farm this year…

tomorrow, we check the bees at earthworks. and, we’re making splits on the hives! i believe those oats and jam will give me some grace, sustenance, and calm as ms. malasky and i do our thing.

oatmeal bars for the stars

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup almond meal
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 grates of fresh nutmeg
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups oats
zest of one lemon
1 1/2 cups your favorite jam

1. heat oven to 350. butter a 9×13″ pan (i don’t have one! so i did an 8×8″ and a bread making pan…)
2. pulse first seven ingredients (through butter) in a food processor, or combine with a pastry mixer, and dough is crumbly.
3. add the oats and lemon, pulse twice (or mix a few times) to combine

into the cuisinart!

in with lemons and oats!

in with lemons and oats!

4. press 2/3 of the dough in the bottom of greased pan. spread jam over top, evenly. sprinkle remaining dough on top, and press down lightly.

spread that jam!

5. bake until golden, about 20 minutes. then let cool fully before cutting, about 2 hours. enjoy!

hooRAY for sunshine and pink banana oatmeal bars

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there is nothing like muffins on mondays. in fact, i’d go so far to institute muffin mondays. small, snack-sized portions. so moist, so satisfying. and so very flexible. they are the yoga masters of baking flexibility, happily welcoming the most bizarre and seemingly disjointed of ingredients and transforming them into the perfect anytime treat. they clean out the fridge and freezer and pantry like few other things can.


i am beginning to realize that i have a great love for fast baking bread goods. i’m talking muffins and quick breads. i guess i’ve always known this. but today, after my week + hiatus from writing, i see that not only have i most recently posted about quick breads, but that i also have at least three different muffin varieties on the docket that have not yet made their debut. 

i just really like muffins, i guess.

these muffins are different, though. inpsired by the gourmet today bible of all things food, these babies are a lovely marriage of various flours, dairy, and fruits. not only that, they showcase the most amazing homemade buttermilk (thanks to my friendly neighborhood fermenter), fresh goats milk (thanks to those cute goats at catherine ferguson academy) and fresh eggs (thanks to my nanny’s dear friend). these muffins cause quite the oral riot. 

buttermilk a la blair

and, they are a fantastic way to start the week. after  last week’s wildness (from planting to composting to eating to harvesting asparagus to earth day to a “quick weekend trip to philly” (note that philly is a ten hour drive from detroit) to the garden a la grande to monday night soccer league), these muffins were just what a tired yet content gwen marie meyer needed. 

neighbors brittany, willis, and monica posing in front of their handy-work, the new garden a la grande. how cute are those cold-loving babes planted behind them?!

with no further ado, i do give you….

happy mouth muffins: cranberry, wheat, and a whole lot of love
inspired by raisin bran muffins from gourmet today edited by ruth reichl

3/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup graham flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup dried cranberries
2 eggs
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup traditional buttermilk
1/2 cup goats milk
3/4 cup mashed bananas
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. put rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400. butter muffin cups.
2. spread wheat germ and graham flour on a large jelly roll pan and bake until golden brown (not burnt!).
cool completely on rack.


3. stir together toasted flour, other flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, slat, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cranberries in a large bowl.


 4. whisk together eggs in another large bowl until well combined. add butter, a little at a time, whisking until mixture is creamy. stir in buttermilk, bananas, honey, and vanilla, then fold in flour mixture until well combined.


5. spoon about 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup. bake for 10 minutes, then rotate to ensure even baking. bake for another 8-10 minutes, until puffed and golden and a wooden toothpick comes out clean. cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes, then remove muffins from pan and cool slightly on rack. 





enjoy!




dairy fermentation class. is there a better way to enjoy a blustery friday evening in mid-april? i think not. my excitement for this class had been growing for some time, and now i imagine myself in a sun-shiney kitchen, apron on, milk culturing on the table top to become butter or quark while more milk heats up on the stove, waiting to embrace a yogurt culture. and the food, oh, those dishes! the taste! the creamy. the sour. the smooth. the flexibility of this medium: savory, sweet, salty. oh, the possibility!


as i sat in the class, taught by my friend blair, of great fermentation fame, i couldn’t help but think of my nanny. the discussion clearly focused upon milk. raw milk. un-homogenized, unpasteurized milk. and, as blair shared her wisdom on how to most effectively pour off the cream, i could hear nanny telling me about how she, as a kid, helped her dad process milk on their farm. she was in charge of the filter that caught any dirt or hairs as the milk traveled into it’s jug. my great grandma, queen of the matson kitchen, took charge of that milk. she instructed my nanny to “dip the milk” for meals, where my nanny literally used a large dipper to collect the milk from the jug. my great grandma separated her cream from the milk, too, saving it to enrich soups, dishes, desserts, even to make butter. and i can only happily imagine the dishes she made with that fresh milk. MMM! my nanny still asks us to “dip the milk” for meals to this day. fantastic.


for this fancy and dair-i-licious occasion, i made bread. with great dairy comes great bread. how else can you really enjoy fresh quark (essentially cream cheese) whipped with lemon zest and honey? don’t leave that dairy lonely–savor it with a hunk o’ pink banana with flax and pumpkin seeds bread! or a slice summer squash, rhubarb, walnut, poppy and lemon zest bread! 


i was delighted and excited and pretty much joyous to have the opportunity to contribute to this, the premier class of the urban ecology detroit 2010 series. hooRAY.

 \

both loaves are delightful in their own ways. the squash bread was moist, smooth, and sweet. the other (which i lovingly refer to as the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink bread), thick, lush, complexly simple, and pretty much a new favorite. and, the eggs featured in these babies come straight from diane, my nanny’s best friend and happy egg-monger. 

recommended smothered with some sort of fermented dairy delight!

pink banana squash bread with pumpkin seeds and golden flax
1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon 
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups pink banana squash puree
1/2 cup pumpkin seed and golden flax, mixed

1. preheat oven to 350. butter 2 bread pans and set aside.
2. in a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients (through baking powder).


3. cream sugar and butter, add eggs. then add vanilla and pink banana puree. combine well.
4. slowly add in dry ingredients, in three batches, but don’t over mix the batter. once combined, gently fold in seeds.


5. divide batter between two pans, sprinkle tops with extra seeds. bake for about an hour, until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.


everything but the kitchen sink quick bread
adapted from 101 cookbooks special zucchini bread

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1/3 cup poppy seeds
zest of two lemons
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cup summer squash 
1 1/2 cup rhubarb, chopped
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon curry powder

1. preheat oven to 350. butter two bread pans, set aside.
2. in a small bowl, combine walnuts through lemon zest, set aside.


3. beat butter, yogurt, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract together. fold in summer squash and rhubarb.


4. in a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients (flour through curry powder). to this in two batches, making sure not to over mix the batter.
5. gently fold in nut/poppy seed/zest mixture into batter. save a bit to sprinkle on top of the loaf.
6. divide batter between the two buttered pans, sprinkle with remaining nut/poppy seed/zest mixture.


7. bake for 40-45 minutes. allow to cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

ENJOY!

  

on the left, pink banana squash bread with plain, whipped quark. on the right, everything but the kitchen sink bread with whipped lemon-honey quark. lip-smacking GOODness. 

peanut butter and chocolate. really, what can possibly get better? this combination’s worked magic in my life as long as i can remember. i think i have taste buds specifically designed for delighting in, salivating over, savoring my grandma meyer’s peanut butter bars: so densely peanuty, blanketed in a crisp, substantial layer of bittersweet chocolate. her cookies are infamous in my dad’s family. i know the lore of old, of when he and my uncle kevin ate an entire pan of these cookies in one sitting on a visit to blair, nebraska many years ago. i don’t think i can have peanut butter bars without a blossoming feeling of lovely nostalgia. the smell, the memories, and the taste!




today, i have been in snack-mode gwen-mode. this is a dangerous state, no question about it. there’s been ice cream (a small dip, i knew what was coming…), frozen yogurt (tangy, have you tried this? the un-sweetened stuff?! SO EXCITING, this is what i knew was coming…), fruit, nuts, granola bars, carrots, salsa, eggs, popcorn, fig cookies, strawberries, cereal… this is just a taste of my ridiculous list, dear friends.


but, what was i really craving? you guessed it. grandma meyer’s peanut butter bars. but, i didn’t know that was what i was craving. i didn’t have the recipe. fortunately, after a two-day hiatus from greenhouse and farm work that involved a lovely trip to my nanny and poppy’s, i checked up on my oh-so-favorite blogs. and the kitchen sink recipes gave me access to the inspiration i really needed. not only did ms. kitchen sink inspire me, her recipe is adopted from another of my favorite blogs, 101 cookbooks. clearly, the peanut butter and chocolate gods were conspiring for peanut butter and chocolate somethings to come out of the oven at la grande.


i give you my own rendition. thanks to the inspired baking of my grandma meyer and two of my favorite blogs. pb&c. oh, how exquisite. the result: lighter than grandma meyer’s, rich, satisfying, and basically fantastic.


*delightful to make while listening to sara watson or a bluegrass mix. makes the baking knee-slapping and danceable!


pb&c: peanut butter & chocolate bars
adapted from the kitchen sink recipes’ chocolate-covered peanut butter bars


1 cup spelt flour
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup graham flour
3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 cup natural, smooth peanut butter
1 cup maple syrup (i was  a little short, so compensated approximately 2 tablespoons pure cane syrup that’s been in my fridge since a friend brought it from florida last year)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
less than 8 ounces combination semi and bitter sweet chocolate bars, chopped


1. preheat oven to 350. grease an 8 inch square pan, line with parchment paper with overhanging flaps, and grease paper. (i actually did this because of the memory of crumbly peanut butter bars per grandma meyer. crumbles still = deliciousness, but thought i’d try with the parchment paper).
2. in a mixing bowl, combine flours, baking soda, and sea salt.



3. in a larger mixing bowl, whisk together peanut butter, syrup, oil, and vanilla extract.



4. pour flour on top of peanut butter mix, stir until barely combined, even a bit dusty looking. then let sit for five minutes, give another stir through.


5. press batter into greased and parchment-ed pan, place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until bars begin to brown and edges are set.


6. as soon as pan’s removed from oven, set on a cooling rack and sprinkle chocolate shavings over bars. as they melt, spread with a butter knife or small spatula. i didn’t use all eight ounces i chopped.


7. allow to cool completely. then, using parchment flaps, pull bars out and slice with a sharp knife.


enjoy your pb&c!


spring has sprung. the buds in this fine motor city have popped. the ground around the magnolia trees is littered with the fuzzy, green dresses their boisterous, gorgeous blooms stripped off. the greenhouse at earthworks is BURSTING. quite literally. i have never seen such creative packing of transplants in a small place. it reminds me of my dad repacking the christmas ornaments– very methodical, very precise. each box fitting so snugly against it’s sibling boxes. well, we could use some of that duane lee meyer methodology and creative space management there now.


since march, i have been tirelessly worked to clean out our fridge. anxiously awaiting the fresh greens, rhubarb, asparagus, and the like that come with the spring sun (and rain), it has been fun, but stressful, getting all the frozen goods processed and OUT!

earthworks asparagus bursting through the soil



and, in the honor of the springtime fairies, april rains, and bawdy magnolia blooms, last night i made a blueberry rhubarb crisp. local? yes! fresh from the freezer: michigan blueberries (the ones that actually inspired this blog!) and detroit rhubarb. a lovely almond meal and spelt flour crust. bubbly, sweet, gooey magic.


enjoy, good friends, and happy springtime tidings to you!


blueberry rhubarb crisp
adapted from gourmet


1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons spelt flour
2 cups rhubarb, chopped
2 cups blueberries


-topping-
1/3 cup almond meal 
3/4 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
sprinkling of cinnamon and a grating of fresh nutmeg


1. preheat oven to 375 and butter a shallow baking dish.
2. mix sugar and flour, then add rhubarb and blueberries. mix till coated. put in baking dish.




3. make the topping! whisk together meal, flour, sugars, spices. cut in butter in 1/2 in cubes, using a pastry blender.


work until flour mixture resembles a course meal.
4. spread crisp evenly over top of blueberries and rhubarb. 
5. bake a 375 for about 50 minutes, until bubbling (delight!) and golden on top. ENJOY!




if you want to know the way to my heart, look no farther than wisconsin. am i a product of the state, a die hard badgers fan, lover of the packers and all things wisconsin? not especially. do i love cows, rolling hills with cute farms, frozen custard, amazing cheer, a crisp beer? YES, my friends, i LOVE these things! and because my parents live there. wisconsin is a great state.


this past weekend, i retreated in mount calvary, wi with fellow volunteers and capuchin brothers. the weather, lush and sunshiney, albeit windy like WOAH, reflected the happy spirits gathered there. 


after lunch on friday, our first day on site, i (surprise, surprise) had the grand idea that we find a local custard joint. i maybe made it a priority. in fact, i think i made it a requirement. thanks to the tip from the kitchen’s head cook, esther, i rounded up three others for the adventure in the bustling town of fond du lac for some gilles (pronounced with a hard g, like gill – eee). and we were NOT lead astray.


the charm of this place, indescribable. americana in its purest sense and idea. they even had car-side service! we were quite pleased, and our stomachs and taste buds began to grumble with excited anticipation.


four beautiful scoops of smooth, creamy, rich, and glorious custard came donned with glistening raspberries, caramel, hot fudge, blueberries and more. of course, the meyer that i am, i had to sample each person’s sundae (quality control is not a thing to fool around about. i know what i’m doing!). 


i chose a raspberry sundae with hot fudge. and was that sundae DEEEE-LICIOUS! oh man. please look to the first photograph to see with your own eyes the juiciness, loveliness, creaminess of that gorgeous treat. so good, we rounded a crew of 6 for a saturday excursion. (yes, i had gilles twice in two days. but when will i ever get it again? i could not resist!).

finally, i found this logo on nothing other than a manure spreader. and it just seemed appropriate on so many levels. farming and composting (reusing that pooo) + my last name + dairy = the bumper sticker of choice for a ms. gwen marie meyer. HA!