Last weekend my family and I and some friends from Vancouver stayed at a cabin in the woods. I have never stayed in a cabin before, we being the camping or backpacking types. I like getting rather dirty around the edges. I like the rustic challenge and taste of eating food cooked on open flame. But this cabin weekend was so delightful, so not difficult with the wee one, the only thing I missed was sleeping on the ground and that stiff, glorious feeling in the morning of not having slept too well. I think cabin-ing has wiggled its way into my vacationing heat.
We went to a lake that reminded me of Vancouver, the water coming right up to the tree line. There was all manner of pines and cedars, hawks and warblers. And then there were the Canada Geese that fished most of the time, heads down, tails strait up and feet dangling in front of us. I tried for about an hour to get a photograph of the multiple moons, but the darned birdbrains were not very cooperative.
I spent most of my lake time swimming with my Vancouver friend's two little girls. I ended the day nauseous, exhausted, and completely elated from all the exercise. Sublime. Sublime I tell you.
What did we eat on this trip? We ate typical camping fare: hotdogs, pancakes, hamburgers, cookies and chips. Typical, American junk-food. Oh, but I loved it! And oh, but it was so good. We made our own patties from organic ground beef, I baked some crumble-topped jam bars, and I found Niman Ranch all-natural hotdogs. I know the hotdog is fairly unpopular right now, especially amongst the natural, whole foods crowd I claim, but I eat meat and there is a very soft spot in my ex-vegetarian heart for all things salty, sausage-like, and pork-derived. Especially when I know the animals are treated like all animals should be treated, with respect. Pork is, after all, the gateway meat. It is the first meat I craved before I made the long journey back to the omnivore life. These hotdogs are definitely all a hotdog should be.
The "bars," which are actually wedges, are Kim Boyce's Crumble Bars. I thought they would be the perfect sweet treat for a mountain setting, all grainy and jammy and rustic. And I was right! I wouldn't have thought a rye-based dessert would be so nice, but Ms. Boyce has gained my trust, and paired with the homemade strawberry-peach jam, it really was perfect.
The morning we were packing to go I ate a wedge for breakfast. I recommend this! They are sweet and surprisingly filling, so some coffee, tea, or milk alongside a bar is really the way to go, as is eating them outside. Maybe everything just tastes better eaten out of doors. I'll try to remember that.
Crumble Bars from Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain
These bars call for jam, but apple butter, fig butter, or other thicker compotes would be as lovely, depending on the season and whim of the baker.
1/2 cup rye flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces (1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole rolled oats
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons rye flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups jam
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. To make the shortbread crust, sift the flours, sugar and salt into a large bowl, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter. Add the melted butter and vanilla and stir until thoroughly combined. Using your hands, press the dough evenly into the bottom of a buttered, 9-inch springform pan. Put the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes while you make the crumble topping.
Add all of the crumble ingredients except the melted butter to the bowl of a food processor and process until the oats are partially ground. Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the melted butter, stirring with your hands. Squeeze the dough as you mix to create small crumbly bits. Set aside.
Bake the frozen shortbread until golden brown and firm when touched, 50-55 minutes. Remove the shortbread from the oven and increase the temperature to 350 degrees.
To assemble the crumble bars, spread 1 1/2 cups jam over the shortbread crust and top with the crumble, even sprinkling it over the surface and squeezing bits of it together to create irregular crumbles. Bake the bars for 50-55 minutes, until golden brown, rotating the pan halfway for even baking.
When the pan is cool enough to handle but still warm, run a sharp knife around the edge to loosen any fruit that may have stuck to the pan while baking and remove the ring. Keep the crumble bars in the pan until they are completely cool, then cut them into wedges. These bars are best eaten the day they're made, but will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Enjoy!