Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Making Sunshine

As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness -- just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, American author (1867-1957), in Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder - Volume One: On Wisdom and Virtues

Over the past few days fog has blanketed our mornings with gray. Sometimes it's so thick that it envelops houses just across the street beneath a cloak of invisibility. Its heaviness slows down traffic as well as our energy levels.

This morning, though, I broke through the gray with some summer sunshine preserved in a bottle. We had been asked to provide squares for an open house for a local community agency. I came across a very easy recipe for Oatmeal Jam Bars on My Baking Addiction blog, which I tweaked a little to suit the special bottle of apricot, peach and pear jam that was on the shelf. The squares turned out very tasty and they are so quick to put together that I thought I should share.

Oatmeal Jam Bars

1 (18.25 oz) package of yellow cake mix (I used spice cake mix because I thought the cinnamon would add a touch of 'zing' to the flavour -- and it did!)

2 1/2 cups quick cooking oats

3/4 cup butter, melted

1 cup raspberry jam (I used almost 2 cups. I made one batch with the apricot jam and another with blueberry)

1 tablespoon water (The apricot jam was very thick so I used 2 tbsp of boiling water. I used less water with the blueberry jam)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (190 C). Line a 9" X 13" pan with foil and grease.

2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, cake mix and melted butter so that it makes nice clumps and there is no dry mix left. Press half of the oats mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.

3. In a separate bowl, mix jam with water. Spread over the crust. Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture evenly over the top.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 18-23 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Cool before cutting into bars.


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