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Simple Pleasures

August 17, 2007

We were so excited yesterday to find our first full-sized, yellow tomato, ripe in the garden. Since we purchased a bunch of starts at our local nursery, we weren’t quite sure what we were getting, but this gorgeous fruit was worth the suspense.

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We were given a bunch of blueberries from Ethan’s parents, so I went ahead and made some of my favorites bars in the world. They are from Farmgirl Fare, with a few twists in parentheses. What’s great about these bars is their ability to be frozen. I usually bake a batch, freeze them until firm, and individually wrap them in foil. During the school year, we just grab one out of the freezer for a great in-between-classes snack. Sorry I don’t have an inside shot of them, but I like to let them cool quite a while before cutting them.

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Farmgirl’s Blueberry Breakfast Bars
Makes 12 to 16 large bars

Bottom Layer
2 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat white)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
(I also add about 1 teaspoon cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons margarine, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Top Layer
1 cup all-purpose flour (whole wheat white)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine

Middle Layer
3-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 teaspoon pure almond extract (I substitute vanilla)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (1/4 tsp. if freshly ground)

For the Bottom Layer:
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a 9″ x 13″ pan. In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the melted margarine and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Press this mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan with your fingers.

For the Top Layer:
Place the flour, brown sugar, and margarine in a small bowl and use a fork, pastry blender, or your fingers to combine until the mixture resembles large crumbs (some pea-sized clumps are okay). Set aside.

For the Middle Layer:
Place the blueberries in the bowl you mixed the Bottom Layer in and toss them with the almond extract. Pour them evenly over the Bottom Layer in the pan. Combine the sugar and flour and sprinkle it evenly over the blueberries. (Even when wet or frozen, the sugar/flour mixture wouldn’t stick to my big fat blueberries when I tried tossing it with them. If yours will, just toss the sugar/flour mixture with the blueberries and then pour the whole mixture over the Bottom Layer in the pan.)

Sprinkle the Top Layer evenly over the blueberry mixture. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden, and the edges are starting to brown. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Store in a cool place or refrigerate. Bars may also be frozen.

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