Kay Wheeler Moore

Welcome to my blog

Hello. . .

The Newfangled Country Gardener is for anyone who has a garden, would like to have a garden, or who simply enjoys eating the garden-fresh way. I don't claim to be an expert; in this blog I'm simply sharing some of the experiences my husband and I have in preparing food that is home-grown.

About the author

Kay Wheeler Moore is the author of a new cookbook, Way Back in the Country Garden, that features six generations of recipes that call for ingredients that are fresh from the garden. With home gardening surging in popularity as frugal people become more resourceful, this recipe collection and the stories that accompany it ideally will inspire others to cook the garden-fresh way and to preserve their own family food stories as well. The stories in this book center around the Three Red-Haired Miller Girls (Kay's mother and aunts) who grew up in Delta County, TX, with their own backyard garden so lavish that they felt as though they were royalty after their Mama wielded her kitchen magic on all that was homegrown. Introduced in Kay's previous book, Way Back in the Country, the lively Miller Girls again draw readers into their growing-up world, in which a stringent economic era--not unlike today's tight times--saw people turn to the earth to put food on the table for their loved ones. The rollicking yarns (all with recipes attached) have love, family, and faith as common denominators and show how food evocatively bonds us to our life experiences.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Festive cookie bars bring merriness at Christmas—or the week after

The gift of good neighbors is a present that has no price-tag on it. This pleasant situation often is taken for granted until one apple begins to spoil the barrel; then a person realizes how important is having good fellowship on the street where you live.

On our particular street in downtown Garland's historic district we are blessed with neighbors extraordinaire. The folks on our street would do anything to help each other. Several share our passion for fixing up their vintage homes that grace our two blocks. This is particularly important to me since this is my growing-up street. From my childhood I remember these fine residences in their heyday and grieve when I see them falling into disrepair. We bless those neighbors who have the yen to fix up and repurpose these very special dwellings.

Because of all these exemplary people I was horror-struck to realize that in my cookie distribution just before Christmas, as Hubby took tins of homemade cookies to folks on the block, that I had overlooked one family that always extends courtesy to us. In my Christmas notes for next year I had adjured myself to please not exclude them again, but I still was awash in guilt in my oversight this year.

So last night I baked Merry Berry Cheese Bars, enlivened by the addition of whole berry cranberry sauce, and plan to package them up as a New Year's gift for this family on the block. Christmas 2010 is past, but the celebratory spirit extends through the New Year's holiday, so I'll load up these bars onto a plate and knock on these neighbors' door as a way to say thanks. These bars are absolutely divine-looking and -tasting. They serve well on a cookie tray at a party, wrapped up in cellophane and tied with a bow as a gift, or sliced in slightly larger squares and served warm with sugar-free topping (or ice cream, if you decide to indulge).

Although they look complicated with their several layers, these "Happy New Year" bars represent one of the easiest cookies to make I've ever encountered. Twenty-five minutes from ingredient assembly until they're popped into the oven! You can't beat that, especially at this time of year when no one has ANY TIME to spare. Hope these bars bring good cheer—to you as well as to our neighbors, for whom we always need to be thankful.

Merry Berry Cheese Bars

2 cups unsifted flour
1 1/2 cups oats
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar (or brown-sugar substitute, with
only half this amount needed)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened (I use the lower-fat Neufchatel)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (I use fat-free)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 (16-ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With mixer beat flour, oats, 3/4 cup sugar, and butter until crumbly. Set aside 1 1/2 cups mixture; press remaining mixture on bottom of greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned, With mixer beat cheese until flufly. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth; stir in lemon juice. Spread over baked crust. Combine cranberry sauce, cornstarch, and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Spoon over cheese layer. Top with reserved crumb mixture. Bake 45 minutes or until golden. Cool and cut into bars. Refrigerate leftovers. Serve warm; top with sugar-free whipped topping or ice cream.

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