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Saturday, March 14, 2015

An Anniversary, A Blondie, and An Exciting New Project

This March The Essential Rhubarb Pie is 8 years old.  I am so happy I have managed to keep this blog going for so long.  I know it's not as active as it used to be, but I think I have matured a bit since I first started blogging.  In the beginning I just wrote about whatever I ate haphazardly.  Then I started trying to make the recipes look like real recipes.  Then I finally started adding photos.  I blogged everything I cooked.  My photos were bad.

As time went on, I started becoming more selective about recipes I put up here (coining the phrase TERP-worthy) and bought a light box and a better camera in hopes of taking somewhat better photos.  It's a constant process to make a blog better.  Still, I try to stay true to my heart and post what I want to post, and stop worrying about the "right" way to blog.

I am proud to still be here when many blogs have stopped.  Recently I went through my reading list and started to cull it a bit.  So many blogs I read faithfully haven't been updated in years.  Many of the bloggers I read have simply called it quits.  Then there are the bloggers who have used their blogs to launch bigger and better ventures in the food business.  The ones that I read that are still going strong and still regularly posting recipes have my neverending admiration.  

When I go back through 8 years worth of posts, I see many recipes that I could take or leave, many that all sound just a big too similar (I even coined another phrase "Standard TERP Sauce" to describe the typical ingredients for many of my recipes), and many that I loved and want to make over and over again.  As I refine my ideas and my skills, I realize that some recipes are worth sharing and many more aren't.  That's one reason why you don't see so many posts here over the past year or two.  I only want to share recipes that I would be proud to share with anyone and not just use as experiments on my poor husband. 

There is a second reason why this blog is a bit slow lately and will continue to be slow in the coming months.  I have an exciting new project on the horizon.

As I said, I have many recipes that I love and want to make over and over.  When I do make them, I find I have to go back through the blog and search for the posts. As I cook those recipes, I have to pause and constantly  keep my iPad from going dark while I refer to it for the recipe.  There had to be a better way.

Earlier this year I decided to go back and reinvigorate my told TasteBook account.  I had joined that site because I wanted to share recipes with some friends from a particular forum I post to.  While I was happy to have access to their recipes, they are all aware of my blog and read it.  They didn't really need my TasteBook.  But TasteBook isn't just online recipes.  You can use TasteBook to self-publish cookbooks from recipes you post there.  Wouldn't it be much easier to have a physical cookbook of my favorite recipes so I wouldn't have to always be searching online?  It would also be easier for friends and family who want my recipes.

So now The Essential Rhubarb Pie will become a cookbook by the end of this year.  That is why I won't be featuring as many new recipes as much in the coming months.  I am going to be going back and cooking all of my most favorite recipes.  I will be tweaking instructions and perfecting the recipes as well as taking better photographs of some of the ones that have bad photos attached.  This means I hope to have plenty of dinner parties in the coming months and my coworkers will be eating a lot of desserts.  Maybe I will start to re-institute Family Dessert Night on Sundays (that was a great concept that never really took off).  As I am still somewhat sidelined by injuries, I really have the time to create this new work.  It's a silver lining as well.

I want to have the book done my Christmas so I can give copies as gifts to friends and family.  I am very excited about this project and being able to share my best ideas in a different way.

Now that I have said that, I do actually have a new recipe to share with you today.

One dessert I have never made on this blog is blondies.  Yes, this blog has featured my experiments baking other bloggers' blondies, but I never tried making a blondie of my own.

This past weekend Oxbow Stables threw its annual awards dinner.   I still can't ride, but I can at least spend a few hours with my horse friends enjoying a massive potluck dinner.  Guests are told what to bring to the party, but I don't always honor my assignment.  They usually ask me to bring a salad.  Sometimes I just don't want to make a salad.  Also, let's face it, in a potluck full of delicious foods, most people don't want to eat a salad.  I wanted to do what people love best - dessert.

With my desire to test out a blondie recipe and a desire to make dessert for this party, I knew it was perfect timing.

I was radical (for me anyway) and used no chocolate in these.  Instead I used another favorite ingredient that has been showing up in my desserts - dulce de leche.  I also studded them with lots of coconut.

They were really good and definitely helped me get through that endless part of the evening when they begin handing out the hundreds (or so it seems) 4-H and Pony Club awards.  This is one situation where you can't avoid boredom eating.  I love those kids at the barn and I'm proud of their accomplishments but...zzzzzzz

I know they're ugly.  No photo could make them beautiful.  They were ugly enough that partygoers ignored them on the buffet for a while.  Then they found out what they were.  Soon they were all snatched up.    Be warned - they are gooey.  Make sure they are completely cool when you cut them.  

Coconut and Dulce De Leche Blondies

Ingredients
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar*
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup dulce de leche
Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8" square pan.

Stir together flour and baking powder.  Set aside.

In a large bowl beat together butter, egg, vanilla, cinnamon and salt until well combined.  Stir in the flour mixture to combine.  Fold in the coconut flakes.

Pour the batter into the pan.  Pour the dulce de leche over the top and swirl it into the batter.  Bake 25-30 minutes.  A knife inserted in the middle should be mostly clean.

Cool completely before cutting.  You might even want to put them in the refrigerator for a while before cutting. 

*Some people prefer dark brown sugar for their blondies.  I confess I use light brown.  I find I don't like that aggressive molasses flavor in my desserts unless it's a dessert that's meant to taste like molasses (like gingersnaps).  If you like the flavor, by all means use dark brown.