Friday, January 20, 2012

Sweet treats - a recipe creation journey

I'm in the process of creating the recipes for my Sweet Treats cooking class at the Ozark Folk Center on February 4. I love teaching these cooking classes, and eating my way through creating the recipes is part of the fun.

My mom's a good cook. No matter where we were in the world, she kept us fed, good food, day in and day out. But the creative side of my cooking comes from my dad. As a kid, Sunday breakfasts and some dinners were exotic, one-of-a-kind flavor treats. With a bit of this - and a dash of that - he cooks up fantastic pancakes, delicious broiled salmon or colorfully wonderful vegi dishes. To this day, he cooks like this, without recipes. If you ask him right after a wonderful meal, you might get the gist of what is in it. I write some down to try to recreate them, but it will usually take several tries to get close to the same dish. There's a level of artistry in this form of cooking that doesn't translate into recipes.

I cook like that, though maybe not as successfully. Luckily, Shawn is not a picky eater. And I like to write down what I'm throwing in as I do it, so maybe I can make the good dishes again.

When I create a cooking class, I set the parameters for the recipes. This one in February is sweet treats with whole grains and fresh fruit. No sugar...

About a year-and-a-half ago, I made the personal choice to not eat processed sugar or concentrated sugar. I also don't eat "sugar-free food". There is lots of natural sugar in my beloved goat's milk. I eat lots of fruit. I love carrots, corn and peas. Dates are a divine sugar-high. But I am a whole lot healthier staying away from the multiple forms of processed sugar. Probably in part because it makes me and my family cook most of our food from scratch. Did you know it's almost impossible to find a canned chili, store-bought bread or frozen dinner that doesn't contain sugar. Watch your salt and spices, too!

Ok, enough ranting. I love apples and oats and walnuts. So, last night I made these. They are good, but could be a bit better. There's a bitter edge on the back of the taste. Maybe the nutmeg, maybe too much cinnamon, maybe the baking powder, perhaps pecans would be better. These bars are good, but not quite ready for class yet. I'll keep tweaking the recipe.

If you are a creative cook and would like to recipe test for me - I'd love to have you try your version of this recipe and send me a comment about what you changed, or how it worked for you. If you'd like to submit a recipe for me to use in the Sweet Treats cooking class, leave a comment and I'll get in touch with you. Of course, I'll give you credit in the class hand outs.

Apple Oat Bars

Apple Oat Bars

Preheat oven to 325

Combine in bowl
2 cups War Eagle White Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt

Stir in
2 eggs
1/4 c softened butter
1 cup apple sauce
2 finely diced apples
1 cup milk
1 cup chopped walnuts

Butter a 9X13 glass baking pan and pour in the batter. Smooth it around the pan.
Bake at 325 for 45 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting.

Now, I'm going to go have another Apple Oat Bar for breakfast... they're maybe better than I was giving them credit for at first.

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