Orange Bar Cookies

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An Orange Bar on a Flow Blue Plate, in a pattern called “Cambridge.”

I find some of my best cookie recipes by leafing through my cookie recipe file–like as not, a clipping drifts onto the floor, like a leaf from a tree. I pick it up, and realize I’ve found a treasure. Such is the case with these “Orange Bar Cookies.”  I wondered if they were similar to Lemon Squares, a popular bar cookie, and decided to give them a try.

IMG_3228Soon, oranges gathered, butter softening, flour sifted, I was in the kitchen baking. I didn’t initially notice that the oranges were special oranges (looking at the bag now, I wonder how I could have missed it!), called “Cara Cara Naval Oranges,” an “heirloom” variety. Wikipedia notes that “the flavor is more complex than most navel varieties and has been described as evoking notes of cherry, rose petal, orange, and blackberry.” I have to say, though, that I really didn’t detect these complexities, and think any type of naval orange would be fine.

Orange Bar Cookies

Orange bars in my battered pan--everything turns out well in it.
Orange bars in my battered pan–everything turns out well in it.

1 cup butter, softened
2-1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 cups flour, divided
3/4 teaspoon grated orange peel
4 eggs
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Confectioners sugar

Grease a 13 x 9″ pan and line with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Stir in 1-3/4 cups flour and the grated orange peel. Press dough into the pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine eggs, remaining 1-3/4 sugar, orange juice, and beat until well combined. Combine the flour and baking powder and sift into the egg mixture. Beat well again. Pour over partially baked cookie dough; return to oven and continue to bake for 22 minutes longer. Cool thoroughly in pan. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

Baking notes: Press the dough, which will be loose and crumbly, into the pan neatly and firmly, but don’t tamp it down with an iron fist, which could result in a hard crust. Also, before pouring the egg mixture over the crust, give it a quick stir to make sure it’s mixed evenly. I used a lime squeezer that I found in a Hispanic grocery store for squeezing the orange juice, using two oranges for the juice.

I have to say that these were absolutely delicious, like a particularly wonderful lemon bar, only with the gentle sweetness of the orange. The topping had an almost fudgy texture (not flavor!), and the crust was buttery and tender. The orange flavor was almost like a gentle echo, and I am already mulling over ways to amp it up. Using Seville oranges, which are bitter, will be my next effort when they are available in the fall. I am not above using orange extract, but this morning, when shopping, noted that orange extract was $4.99 for a tiny bottle. Will keep looking! I will definitely add a whole teaspoon of grated orange rind to the crust, the next time. It’s also occurred to me to add a half teaspoon of orange flower water to the egg mixture, for an exotic touch. Or, add some semi-sweet pieces! Orange and chocolate are wonderful together. Could be interesting. At any rate, these are absolutely luscious–the recipe is a keeper.

Crocheted and Knitted Washcloths

I had a foreboding when I posted instructions recently for knitting a washcloth/dishcloth. Why were these patterns so popular? There are books and books of patterns for dishcloths, as well as about a million patterns online. Well, it’s because their creation is more like occupational therapy than an actual craft, right up there with basket weaving and making the little pottery ashtrays we made in kindergarten (or, used to make, in those politically incorrect days). There’s something satisfying about working on a pretty little project that might only take a few hours to complete, and that allows you to try different knitting and crocheting patterns. So I have allowed myself to make three more, to pile them fluffily in a little basket in the bathroom, and then . . . no more! How many washcloths can one person possibly use? I may find out.

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Here is a pattern for a white garter stitch washcloth, to which I added a picot edging.

Garter Stitch Washcloth with Picot Edging

With Lily Sugar’n Cream white cotton yarn, on size 7 knitting needles, cast on 45 stitches. Knit in garter stitch for about 6-1/2 inches and then bind off using the following Picot Point Cast-Off:

*Cast on 2 stitches. Lift second stitch over first and off needle. Lift a third stitch over and off needle. Transfer remaining stitch to right needle. Knit 1. Two stitches are now on the right needle. Lift second over first and off the needle. Return remaining stitch to left needle. * Repeat * to *.

The above edging, which comes from Mary Thomas’s Book of Knitting Patterns, may sound a bit confusing, but if followed carefully, will yield a pretty edging. Keep in mind that when you have cast on the two stitches, that the second and third stitches are to the left on the left-hand needle. (Have I just made this more confusing? Hope not!)  You can always just bind off plain, and still have a pretty, snow white washcloth.

From Lily Sugar’n Cream’s The Best of Lily Dish Cloths, I have also made a Granny Square Dish Cloth (to be used as a washcloth), using Denim Twists yarn. The booklet is available at most craft stores, and costs $3.95.

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IMG_3244And I am working on a more elaborate “Lace Dish Cloth” with cream-colored Sugar’n Cream Yarn, from the same book.

IMG_3200As I work on this post, when I look up, I see this ‘tableau,” and am happy to see the daffodils!

3208xAnother happy sight, at least for gardeners, are these grassy-looking chive shoots.

Hope your week is a good one. Namaste. Fran

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