A Squirrel’s Tail

It’s been cold, and I always wonder how local birds and squirrels cope with the sub-zero temperatures. But I looked up yesterday from doing the dishes only to see this delightful squirrel peering in at me. What was I doing? Why would anyone want to do it? Got me. We looked at each other curiously. His fur looked thick and warm. Seems to be doing okay!

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Felt like baking up something cozy today, and after inspecting the pantry, found a nice jar of fig preserves. Fig Bars it would be! I love figs, but have to admit that I’ve never had a good fresh one, the Midwest not being the fresh fig capital of the world. But dried Turkish figs are moist and sweet, so I don’t feel deprived.

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The bars have a shortbread base, a layer of jammy fig preserves, and are topped with a crunchy oatmeal and walnut layer and a veil of confectioners sugar. I have made the bars in a springform pan, just to be fancy–makes the bars look like a fancy tart. But you can make them in a 9″ square pan, as well.

Fig Bars

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Dusted with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Crust:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour

Filling: 1 cup fig preserves, or jam of your choice

Topping:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Prepare either a 9″ springform pan or a 9″ square pan by greasing generously. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust, cream the sugar with the softened butter. Stir in vanilla. Add in the flour, rubbing it in with your fingertips. It will be very crumbly, and seem a bit dry. Pat into the bottom of the pan, and bake for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the preserves so they are soft and spreadable.

Set the pan with its baked crust aside while you make the topping. Mix the brown sugar and butter together, and rub in the flour until crumbly. Add in the oats and chopped walnuts and stir until a evenly crumbly mixture results.

Spread the preserves over the crust, and sprinkle with the crumble mixture. I also made some fig decorations using a couple of dried figs. I cut off the hard stem, flattened the fig, and cut into slivers, then topped the bars with these slivers. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the preserves are bubbling and the sides golden. Allow to cool, and sift on some powdered sugar.

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I chopped the walnuts using an antique nut chopper. Ingredients include a cup of coffee for the baker!

This bird photo may not seem amazing, but I am proud of it, because it’s a brown creeper. Brown creepers are little birds that start out at the base of a tree and work their way around the trunk in a spiral, looking for insects. Since they blend in with the bark, you hardly ever notice them except out of the corner of your eye, and since they move fast, it’s not easy to get a photo. What a beautiful little bird!

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Some daffodils, albeit from Aldi, but still a harbinger of Spring. Peace to you. Fran

 

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