Friday, January 1, 2010

Magic cookie bars and New Year's day Pork roast

We returned yesterday to Portland after a week in Minneapolis visiting with family and friends.  We thought we had left the snow behind, but we were surprised to see a small layer of white coating the lawns in our neighborhood.  Apparently, the rest of Portland had been surprised as well.

During our stay in Minneapolis, about a foot of snow fell in 24 hours and everyone shrugged their shoulders and thought, "Meh... where's the big snowstorm they were forecasting?" while driving to their holiday destinations.  This made reading about Portland's unexpected 4-inch snowfall Tuesday night seem pretty silly.  Then again, Minneapolis expects snow and is prepared.  But... it makes me think... in each of the past 5 years I've lived here, it has snowed at least a little during the winter (or iced) and each time, everyone freaks out and the city shuts down.  Shouldn't Portland also expect snow and be prepared?

In any case, the lawns were covered in feet of snow in Minneapolis as we baked some holiday treats on Christmas day morning. And family braved the snow-coated roads to meet at my parents' house for an evening of watching the twins (my nephews are twin boys about 2 1/2 years old and they are adorable!) play with their new toys, tackling a new 1000-piece puzzle, and good food.

My mom and I put together some gluten-free magic cookie bars and a made-from-scratch gluten-free version of her famous cheesy potatoes (you know, the ones with hash browns, tons of cheese, and usually a can of condensed cream-of-mushroom soup?). I made the "condensed soup" from 1 and 1/4 cups milk, 1/4 cup chicken broth,  2 tbs of potato starch, some sauted onion and a bit of pepper, garlic and salt.  All you do is mix the milk and the potato starch in a bowl or measuring cup and add to sauted onion and heat, while stirring, with other ingredients until thick.  It was a huge success.

The cookies, too, were just as I had remembered them.  We used a package of Pamela's shortbread cookies and about a half cup each of coconut and millet flours in place of the graham cracker crumbs.  My mom whirred them in the food processor until they were a coarse crumble and we mixed in the flours and the butter, pressing the mixture into the baking dish.  We then followed the traditional recipe, sans nuts.  They indeed disappeared quickly... like magic. (they are still a bit warm in these photos - you can see the chocolate chips are a bit melty!)

Today we are spending the day watching the weather oscillate between sunbursts and rain showers while the delicious smell from the pork roast in the crock pot tortures us.  We will be ringing in the new year with pork, which is supposed to symbolize progress in the new year, and is one of our favorite things lately to do in the crock pot.

This morning, Ben chopped and onion, three large carrots, and three medium potatoes and placed them in the bottom of the pot.  Then he chopped a couple cloves of garlic (rubbing the meat with one of the cloves), placed the meat on the veggies, and sprinkled everything with the garlic bits, some fresh ground pepper, mustard powder, and rosemary. If you have a crock pot, you need to try this - cook for about 10-12 hours on low.  If you do not have a crock pot, you need to get one and try this!

I can't hardly wait until dinner...

Best wishes to all for a happy new year and may your year be filled with many wonderful new flavors, food, and recipes :)


Kim said...

Those cookie bars look amazing! I live in Minneapolis and that snow was crazy - we were also snowed in and I made lots of gluten-free goodies for my visiting family members! I will be moving to Portland for grad school either this year or next, funny coincidence! Thanks for sharing such lovely pics, I'll be dreaming of those cookie bars! -Kim

Laura said...

How funny! I was out of the midwest and visiting my boyfriend in Monmouth, south of Portland while you were in Minneapolis. We were both delighted when it snowed unexpectedly in Oregon. I also made your delicious scones for him while I was there.... like me, he's gluten-free and hadn't had a scone in years. It felt so appropriate to bake your delicious scones in your home region..... Thanks for the great recipes as always! Warm blessings for a beautiful new year, Laura

Lauren Denneson said...

Laura- I'm so glad you two enjoyed the scones! It's almost as pleasurable as baking for other people when other people use my recipes and like them :) It is always fun when it snows here in Oregon, I have to admit, since it is so rare. Best wishes for a happy new year to you too!

Lauren Denneson said...

Kim - You will really like it here (and the school you have been accepted to is a great one!). It's a great place to live and an even better place to be GF :) Good luck and I hope you are able to make it this year.

Laura said...

Hi Lauren,

I'm going to be flying to Portland in February again to visit my boyfriend. I'm planning on swinging by New Cascadia to check out their gluten-free breads on my way from the airport. He lives in Monmouth, though. Do you know of any particular gluten-free places in Corvallis or Salem or in that area?

Thanks so much for any recommendations you have! And, I'll definitely be making your scones for him again. :)

~ Laura

Lauren Denneson said...

Laura - sadly, I'm not too familiar with that area, so I'm not sure what to recommend. But, maybe someone else reading this knows of some good places?

Laura said...

No worries, Lauren! We're definitely making a stop at New Cascadia on our way from the airport out of Portland.... I haven't had a soft pretzel in years... I'm very excited!