Tag Archives | dorie greenspan

Mary’s Maine Bars & Bake a Difference with OXO For Cookies for Kids’ Cancer


I met Shianne on the first day of 6th grade. She had impressively high bangs (as was the fashion in 1991), had a delicately pretty face, and walked with a limp. Her family had moved to the area over the summer and though all of us were new to middle school, she was new to everything.


We became friends in those first weeks of school and I learned that she loved the New Kids on the Block (also all the rage in 1991) and had a younger sister the same age as mine. Once Shianne started to trust me, she shared the reason for her limp. When she was a baby, she had developed bone cancer. In order to save her life, they’d amputated her leg.


As an 11 year old, the hardest thing that I’d dealt with in life had been a little teasing from other kids. It was incredibly tough for me to fully grasp all that Shianne had lived through. Still, the thing she most wanted was to be normal and have a life like other kids. And so that’s what we did.


We put on make-up for the school dances together, and gossiped about the boys on whom we crushed. We were cabin-mates at outdoor school and worked on the school paper together. At slumber parties, when our group of friends were all snuggled in our sleeping bags on the floor, there would be Shianne’s prosthetic leg on the floor next to her. It was an entirely normal middle school existence, until sometime near the start of 7th grade, when Shianne’s cancer came back.


She started missing large stretches of school for treatment and recovery, but came whenever she felt strong enough. She lost her hair and came to school bald, but with make-up meticulously in place.


Unlike her earlier bout with cancer, this second round did not end in remission. Shianne was treated endlessly, but the cancer was stronger. She died in the fall of 1994, just as she should have been starting high school with the rest of us.

I often find myself thinking about her. I wish I’d gotten to know her for longer and I wonder what her life would have been like had she lived.


Recently, the folks at OXO put out the call, looking for bloggers to participate in an campaign for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer to help raise both awareness and fund for childhood cancer research. They were also offering to donate $100 for every blog post written. Having been witness to Shianne’s experience, I volunteered to participate.


They offered up a few different recipes from Dorie Greenspan’s upcoming book, Dorie’s Cookies, along with the gear necessary to make the cookies. I opted to make Mary’s Maine Bars, which are a tender, molasses-rich bar cookie.

To ease the baking process, folks at OXO sent over a pair of their relatively new Good Grips Glass Baking Dishes with Lid (2 quart and 3 quart), as well as a clever Brownie Spatula and their Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer.


The baking dishes are made from BPA-free borosilicate glass, which allows them to withstand significant temperature changes. The handles are easy to grab and the lids make it possible to prep, stash in the fridge or freezer, and then go into the oven (obviously, you remove the lids before baking).

The OXO On Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer is the best hand mixer I’ve ever used (though, to be fair, the one I was using previously was from 1999). It has a simple-to-use digital control that allows you to change speed smoothly and the illuminated headlight means you can always see what’s happening in the bowl.

The recipe for Mary’s Maine Bars is after the jump. They’re perfect for sharing with friends, and are a good way to temper bittersweet memories.

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Open Jars: Granola Cookies

cookies from above

I have made a lot of granola in the last month (a mighty understatement). I was testing recipes for the book and even after giving large containers of it away, I still had enough granola on my kitchen shelves to supply a small restaurant through a busy weekend brunch service, three or four times over. Though Scott and I both embrace a breakfast of granola topped yogurt, there more that we could handle in a reasonable about of time. Steps had to be taken before all that home toasted granola went fusty and stale.

granola cookies

While flipping through Baking on Saturday afternoon in search of Dorie’s cream scones, another recipe caught my attention. Called Granola Grabbers, it is essentially a heartier-than-average oatmeal cookie, made with granola as the primary ingredient. I stuck a magazine subscription card in to serve as reminder to come back and take a closer look. After all, I had a bounty of granola in need of transformation.

granola cookie dough

Last night found me standing in the kitchen wanting to make something for all of you. I’ve been feeling a little bit lost in the face of late winter. I know citrus is the thing this time of year, but somehow I can’t summon the energy to chop lemons for marmalade right now. So instead of putting something in a jar, I took the remains of a batch of granola (it’s a dried cranberry and orange-scented thing that will be in the book) and made cookies inspired by those granola grabbers.

granola cookies

Though I restrained myself from healthy-ing up the cream scones I posted about on Monday, I wasn’t able to keep from making a few adjustments here. I replaced some of the dairy butter with apple butter (another open jar finished off!), cut the sugar by half (and they’re still quite sweet) and used whole wheat pastry flour in place of the all-purpose. I also added some cinnamon and nutmeg that weren’t in the original recipe, to help bolster the fading flavors of my aging granola.

granola cookies

Having made this recipe as a basic cookie, I think I’ll try it as a bar next time. They are so dense and crumbly (but in a good way) that I think I’d like to be able to grab a smaller bit than these hefty cookies allow. That said, I am not at all unhappy to have them in my cookie jar. In fact, I’m kicking myself that I didn’t bring one or two along to work today, to nibble after lunch (plus, I could use something homemade after my cafeteria salad).

Oh, there’s one more thing you should know before you tackle this one yourself. Dorie’s original recipe asks that you use granola without added fruit. Her very valid concern is that the fruit in store-bought granola can be very dry. However, my homemade granola included plump, moist dried cranberries and lots of slivered almonds. Because of that, I used four cups of granola and omitted the additional cranberries and almonds. I know that granola will vary, so I’ve included her original proportions here. Feel free to use your best judgment when you make these for yourself.

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Pear Cake

canned pears

Last summer (as you may remember), I went through a period where I canned a lot of fruit whole. That’s right, I just popped it into the jars, poured a syrup over top and processed. I wrote about the plums in honey, but as I look back through the archives, I realize I never managed to blog about the seckel pears I canned in that same honey syrup, spiked with a bit of powered ginger.

dry ingredients for pear cake

Throughout this year, I’ve gotten a number of questions from readers who fearlessly followed me into whole fruit canning and then didn’t know what to do with it once they were there. Well kids, here’s one recipe that works for either whole canned pears or plums (provided you used firm plums that at least kind of held their shape during the canning process).


This is a nice, adaptable cake that also works with fresh fruit (but there’s not much of that round these parts besides storage apples that are getting mealier with each passing day). For those of you observing Passover, you’re going to have to wait several more days before you can make this. However, it would make a VERY nice addition to an Easter brunch, if you happen to still be casting about for recipes.

finished pear cake

Next time I make this, I think I might sprinkle the top with a bit of crunchy sugar, to give it a bit of shimmer. However, taste wise, it doesn’t need a thing. The fruit makes it feel virtuous but underneath those pear halves, it’s still all cake (moist, slightly nutmeg-y cake). Another way to fancy it up (if you’re using home-canned fruit) would be to reduce the canning syrup down a bit and drizzle it over the top of the cake when serving. So good!

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Yogurt & Olive Oil Cake with Orange


Each time I find myself wanting to post a recipe here that is not jar-related, I tie myself up in knots for a moment, worrying that it is unseemly to break out from the blogging rubric I’ve set up for myself.  Then I remind myself that this is my blog and I can do with it what I want. Besides, there are times when all you want a simple little loaf cake to go along side those jams and marmalades. And for those moments, this is a near-perfect treat.

I baked this one up on Sunday morning, intentionally splitting the batter unevenly between two half-sized glass loaf pans. The larger was destined for a friend who had a baby just three weeks ago and the smaller one stayed home. Una (the new mama) is the type of person I’ve always admired. She is so good about taking time for herself, even if it’s only a few moments, and, for as long as I’ve known her, has often done so in the afternoons with a slice of something sweet and a cup of coffee with milk. Goodness knows that this new baby will ruffle her previous patterns, but I felt like it was the least I could do to take her a treat that would allow her that recall those afternoon moments of calm.

The smaller loaf, the one that stayed home, was eaten up in short order as well. I left Scott alone at home with it while I was visiting Una, and when I returned, a big hunk was missing. We whittled it down to the final slice you see above before I realized I wanted to grab a picture. We split that last piece just before turning out the lights and heading to bed.

It’s a good, simple little cake that I adapted from a Dorie Greenspan recipe. I’ve dialed down the sugar a bit, wanting to ensure that it wouldn’t be cloying with the addition of jam and swapped out her lime zest for orange (I had two oranges and no limes on a Sunday morning, so I made do). I also used a bit less oil than she called for, because my yogurt was unusually runny and I didn’t want the batter to be too loose.

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