I recently had to empty my top kitchen drawers, giving me the chance to think about what it is I actually use. Some things were culled immediately and others weren’t put back when the time came. I got rid of things that I either didn’t use or didn’t work well.
I want the tools in my kitchen to be functional but pleasing to handle and look at, if that’s possible. That led me to a new wood salad bowl from Outdoor Elements at Oakway Center. Mine is 15 inches across, made of cherry by the Holland Bowl Mill in Michigan.
This bowl can be used for so much more than salad. Fill it with oranges, pomegranates or pine cones. It’s so beautiful, it can sit proudly in the middle of the dining room table unadorned.
They come in a range of sizes and woods. A salad bowl, with matching individual bowls if you’re feeling very generous, would be a welcome Christmas gift or wedding present.
I’ve been conditioning mine weekly with a bee’s wax and oil cream, wiped on with a piece of cotton that I keep in a resealable plastic bag. I’ve been running the cream-saturated cloth over other cutting boards, wood utensil handles and wooden spoons to restore them. An added bonus to using the wood conditioner is that it makes your hands very soft.
Wood cutting boards can be pulled into use as a trivet for the table or as a serving plate for cheese and salami. They can be found in any number of shapes made from almost any wood you can imagine.
One of my favorites is in the shape of Oregon. We’re lucky to have a relatively rectangular shaped state. Michigan or Hawaii or Florida boards would be less useful.
I’ve found them around town at stores that sell things for the kitchen, including Market of Choice, Pepperberries and the Made in Oregon store. They can be made of wood, bamboo or a composite material.
Another thing of beauty is a wood rolling pin. Rolling pins are a tricky. Some people (but not me) like the kind with handles that are attached to each end by a rod running through the center.
Solid rolling pins come in either straight from end to end (like a large dowel) or tapered on the ends. It’s an individual choice as to which you prefer.
In addition to kitchen stores, seasonal markets such as the Holiday Market are good places to find locally made wood bowls, cutting boards and rolling pins. If you want to give one of these items as a gift, adding a favorite recipe that uses that item is a nice touch.
While these coffee-glazed fruit bar cookies don’t make use of a salad bowl, cutting board or rolling pin, they are have become a favorite, especially after the weather turns cold. Molasses, dried fruit and spices speak to me of December.
I use both yellow raisins and dried cranberries, but you can use any dried fruits, or combination of them. If you want to use chopped dates, don’t use the prechopped ones. They tend to be grainy and dry. Chop whole soft dates instead.
Coffee flavors the icing. If you don’t like coffee, replace the coffee with 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract or a tablespoon of maple syrup. Thin with milk or cream.
The bars keep well thanks to the molasses and dried fruit. Place them in an airtight container and separate the layers with parchment or waxed paper.
Glazed Fruit Bars
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon (a generous pinch) of mace
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup butter, at room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 generous cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries and/or finely chopped apricots)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- 1/4 cup hot coffee
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a large rimmed baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Give it a good whisk to distribute the spices. Set aside.
Beat the sugar and butter until soft and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl and beaters in between them. Mix in the molasses.
Slowly mix in the flour mixture with the mixer on low. When all of the flour is incorporated, mix in the fruit.
Plop the mixture into the prepared pan. Using hands dusted with flour, pat the dough out about 12 by 10 inches. It may not go completely to the edges of the pan, depending on the size of your baking sheet.
Bake about 20 minutes or until the top is set, a tester inserted into the center comes out with only a crumb or two clinging to it and the edges have browned a little. It should feel soft.
While the bars bake, make the icing. Work the butter into the powdered sugar with a fork until completely incorporated. It will look sandy. Add 2 teaspoons of coffee and mix well. Add more coffee, a few drops at a time, until it makes a medium glaze.
When done cooking, put the pan onto a wire rack. While the bars are still warm, drizzle then spread the glaze evenly over cookies. Let cool completely then cut lengthwise into strip then crosswise into rectangles or squares.
- Add up to 1/2 cup chopped nuts with the fruit.
- If you don’t like coffee, replace the coffee with 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract or a tablespoon of maple syrup. Thin with milk or cream.