Thursday, June 11, 2009

Torn Between Two Blogs and a Treat from Celebrating with Julienne

Graham Cracker Chewy Bars - A Julienne Favorite

I once lived in an apartment in Hollywood, next door to an amorous Chilean woman who had two lovers. One, apparently, knew about the other, and one thought he was the one and only. I know this because I frequently provided an escape route to "the other" through our adjoining balconies. (My neighbor thanked me by introducing me to Rincon Chileno, a Chilean restaurant on the seedy side of Melrose.)

I've never experienced this dilemma in life, but sometimes I feel that way with my two blogs. "Two blogs?" some may gasp. You may have thought Open Mouth, Insert Fork was the "one and only." Readers of my other blog, Cancer Banter, are well aware of my food blog. Heck, I even invite them to "sneak over the balcony" and visit Open Mouth, Insert Fork.

Up until now, there really wasn't any reason for me to tell you about Cancer Banter. But now I'm ready to share because I feel like I'm experiencing the ultimate convergence between the two blogs (a chance meeting in the hallway?).

Susan Campoy, owner of Julienne and author of Celebrating with Julienne, died of cancer in May, and I wrote a tribute to her at Cancer Banter. We shared more than a love of food; we also shared the same doctor at the same cancer center, City of Hope.

I have an appointment at the City of Hope this afternoon, and since I am feeling so good, I decided to make Julienne's Graham Cracker Chewy Bars to share with my doctor and staff.

Raising the bar

This recipe recently appeared in the LA Times Food Section's "Culinary SOS," where readers request their favorite recipes. The recipe, along with a brief story about its origin, also appears in the Celebrating with Julienne cookbook. (There's not a photo of the bars in the book, so it's nice to see the pic with the LA Times article.)

Graham Cracker Chewy Bars

Total time: 45 minutes, plus cooling time

Servings: 24 bars


3 cups graham cracker crumbs

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar and flour until moist and well-blended. Press the mixture firmly and evenly over the bottom of a 13-inch by 9-inch baking pan. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

Topping and assembly

2 1/2 cups brown sugar

4 extra-large eggs

2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup pecans, chopped

1 prepared crust

Powdered sugar, if desired

1. While the crust is baking, in a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs to blend. Whisk in the graham cracker crumbs, vanilla, salt and baking powder until well-blended. Stir in the pecans.

2. Spread the mixture over the baked crust and return to the 350-degree oven until the filling is dark-golden on top and jiggles slightly when tapped, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and cool completely.

3. Sprinkle a light coating of sifted powdered sugar over the pan if desired, and cut into 24 bars. The bars can be made 1 day in advance. Wrap in plastic and keep at room temperature.

Each bar: 247 calories; 2 grams protein; 36 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber;11 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 50 mg. cholesterol; 184 mg. sodium.

The cookbook neglects to instruct bakers to dust the finished bars with powdered sugar, so I was glad that the LA Times article included this. The dusting of sugar definitely prettifies these bars.

Also, I like to use 1 1/2 cups of nuts instead of the specified 1 cup. I like to fine chop 3/4 cup in my mini food processer and course chop 3/4 cup by hand.

You may scoff at the 3 cups of graham crackers in the crust. And that's not counting the 2/3 cup in the filling. Sounds pretty pedestrian, doesn't it? But, oh my, it is not pedestrian. It's not even public
transportation. It's a convertible zipping around a hairpin curve. The sweet, chewy, nutty goodness of these easy-to-make bars gives you that kind of high.

So, it's a nice little circle we've formed. Susan Campoy nurtured thousands in her lifetime. My doctor and his staff have nurtured thousands of patients in their careers. And now I get to do my little bitty part to nurture the nurturers with these rich and chewy treats, from a recipe by a nurturing woman.

The circle of sweets is complete.

Don't even think about it, Tiger.

(PLEASE forgive me for not responding to all of the wonderful comments and questions on the most recent post and other posts. Life has been busy, and I'm still feeling a bit overwhelmed - in a good way - by the increase of activity from blog of note.)

(PS I'm still in remission and just going for my monthly visit.)


Calamity Anne said...

I've always said that you can't judge a book by it's never make assumptions about a person. Cancer has been an unwelcome visitor in our family, and with that, I wish you the best in your courageous battle.

Anonymous said...

aha nice story

Marcy said...

I've been torn between both your blogs for sometime now, ( not having been able to decide which one is more uplifting, and refreshing ) always looking forward to a post from either, because I heart them both! You're such an inspiring beautiful person Susan. How sweet you are to take treats to the Dr.'s and staff! ( Grrr made my tummy growl ;) ) Hope the visit went great, have a wonderful evening! xo~

Tony said...

As an eater and a 'glorified' taxi service for my sister (battling glioblastoma multiforme) I'm glad to hear you're keeping things at bay! Good on you for spreading the love via fantastic food.

MNicole said...

Cancer hasn't touched my family but I have very close friends who have experienced and just let me say, I can never say, "I know what you're going through!" because I don't. But what I do know is that God has a purpose and plan for each of our lives. You may not believe in God but I am praying for you that everything goes according to his plans for your life. I wish you the best!!!!

Lori Webster said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lori Webster said...

Susan, you make those bars sound so yummy tasting, I want one right now! You are such a doll for making them for your doctor & staff!

I've read your tribute and other things written about Julienne, and I'm sorry I never got to meet her or eat at her restaurant

Sue G said...

Thanks for the recipe. It sounds wonderful, and I have been promising my nurses some treats for May's Oncology Nurses Month (when my strength came back--expecting it any day now--really, soon, honest).

I have been concerned about you because of your lack of comments. Thank you also for letting us know that your blogging has been interrupted by life in the fast lane. Thank you, God, for life well-lived.

Susan C said...

Calamity Anne, I'm sorry that cancer has also touched your life closely. Thanks for your good wishes. Hoping to stay in remission for a very long time.

Marcy, I love having you go back and forth on that balcony!

Tony, Ahh, my brother lives on the other side of the country, but he sure was a great support for me when I was going through treatment. And good for you for promoting local food.

MNicole, Thank you. I am always touched when people pray for me.

Lori, The bars were a big hit this afternoon. Oh, and I peaked in at Webster's Fine Stationery (already closed) and saw the stool you mentioned in a previous comment. I gotta have it!

Sue, Hoping your full strength comes back soon. And thanks for being concerned about me instead of thinking I was just a rude gal. :)

Gena said...

Love your blog!! I relate to the 'coming out of the closet" re. the other blog" I too run more than one ... and at times am not sure how to balance this, but heck it's all in the name of good fun!! Take care

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Pinnywearer said...

Ma'am, I like your style, particularly your lovely, beautifully blowsy garden and your way with spare doors.

Recipes are interesting, too!

marinik said...

oh, those look yummy, we'll be there this afternoon too, wish I knew where you were in the building, i'd sneak a peak and maybe steal one of those :) hehe

AP Wagner Blog said...

You have an excellent, and inspirational blog. Oh and those chewy bars look delicious!

Susan C said...

Gena, Glad you're still having fun with blogging. I tend to go in spurts and only do it when it's fun. Otherwise, what's the point?

Baguio, Welcome to blogging. Remember to have fun. I'll take a peek at your blog.

Pinny, I LOVE that word blowsy. I had to look it up because I've never heard it used to describe a garden. The synonyms are slutty and slovenly. I think I need to clean up the hay on my garden paths. : )
And I'm thinking of starting a website.

And I like your phrase "way with spare doors." You sound like a writer.

Mari, I hope there weren't any bars left in the hematology department today. That would be a bad sign.

AP, Thanks! I think I'll make some more now and not give them away this time.

Ronni Gordon said...

I don't think there's any conflict in having a food blog. They go nicely together. And since cooking (and of course eating good food) is nourishing for the soul and body, they go well together.

Trish said...

I've always thot this a nice respite from Cancer Banter. And, when I'm feeling up for it, I enjoy perusing the recipes to see if there is anything I can eat and that I want to eat. Not an issue to have more than one blog!

Maybe you want to start "" and incorporate the slutty in the definition? ;-) Then again, I can just see you posting pics of you galavanting around the slutty garden...I can also see you going to the nursery worker and saying "I need to have slutty plants for my slutty garden, please direct me!".


Beth said...

Yum! That looks delicious! :D

Anonymous said...

This looks absolutely delicious. It's making me so hungry. I will definately try these sweet treats. Thanks!

Susan C said...

Ronni, Not a conflict for a cancer banterer to have a food blog, but I didn't necessarily want open mouth readers to know I had cancer/am a cancer patient. But you're so right about nurturing the body and the soul.

Trish, LOL I love that word slutty. I am going to look for ways to incorporate blowsy and slutty into future posts and comments.

Beth, I think it's the chewy texture that really makes these.

Family Chef, Thanks for coming by. I tried to click on your link, but got a message that it's private.

Family Chef,

zenmasterlauren said...

these sound amazing!!! I am going to have to try! Congrats and best wishes on the continued remission!

Taronger said...

that looks really good.

EAT! said...

What a great tribute you made to your friend by passing on this recipe. food holds a very special place in my life and I most definately think you should cook and bake it forward.

TinkerMal87 said...

Thanks for the yummy idea! I will definitely use this for my fundraising through Team In Training!!!!

Jeanne said...

Yum! What a great way to get two grams of protein! That means if I eat the whole batch, I get my day's requirement of protein, right?

Actually, this looks like the kind of treat where you could stop after just one. And, if not, I always give away at least half the batch when I make cookies or brownies, and not because I'm generous.

Carver said...

The treat looks delicious. I liked your idea of climbing over the balcony. My blogs have ended up overlapping a lot although I originally thought of one as my cancer blog and one as my photo journal. Take care, Carver

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