As we eagerly await the beginning of spring, thoughts do turn to the wonderful blossoms, fruits and vegetables to come. Early heirloom narcissus and Arum Palaestinum (black lilies) greeted us at the Cambria Historical Museum and daffodils delighted me on my hillside. March 1 was the Welsh feast of patron saint and hero St. David, so I also celebrated my heritage with a hearty leek and potato soup, leeks being the traditional plant of Wales.
Since my resident doe and two fawns feasted on my cyclamen lining the driveway, I was relieved that they ignored the artichokes I have successfully grown in tubs. Some of those I will eat right out of the pan, warm with melted butter, and the others chilled with my once-a-year mayo.
Neighbor Joyce Backhaus started off my series of Irish festivities with a perfectly cooked pot of Corned Beef Brisket with all the wonderful root vegetables and cabbage, and enhanced the recipe with caraway seeds and an orange studded with cloves.
She prepared the repast for guest Andrea Wolcott, who drove clear across the country from New York City with her mother Melinda, paralleling and sometimes traversing historic Route 66. Making a permanent move to our golden state, she gets Brownie points from me for bringing along important things such as her food processor, immersion blender and mandoline, leaving the rest for the moving van.
This trip makes one really appreciate earlier-day travelers who have come to make their fortune and a home in California, like the Forrester family who emigrated from New York in the mid-1800s. You can see a display about that in the Cambria Historical Museum when Historical Society members invite new potential members to join us for refreshments, as we display our newest exhibits between 5 and 7:30 p.m. on March 21.
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We were given a very nice compliment by Nancy Bennett, as she exclaimed, “You can bet there’ll be good food if Penny Church and Consuelo are in charge!” And, yes, we are proud to belong to a long line of CHS volunteers who specialize in providing homemade treats to share.
When Penny brought the cookies described below, I jumped for the butterscotch-studded cookies, which were then actually surpassed by ones with mini chocolate chips, the resulting flavor reminiscent of the Watergate Cake:
(Adapted from Marjorie Ott’s recipe)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package (3.4 oz.) instant pistachio pudding mix
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 large eggs
Green food coloring (if desired)
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. butterscotch chips or 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pistachios or walnuts
In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugars, pudding mix and extracts until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add a few drops of green food coloring, if desired.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in chips and nuts (batter will be stiff). Cover and refrigerate for an hour or more. Shape into one-half-inch balls; place two inches apart on ungreased baking sheets and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for eight to 10 minutes.
Remove to wire racks to cool; store in a tight-fitting tin. Cookies last well in the fridge or freezer. Penny’s delicious cookies were a combination of mini chocolate chips with pistachios and the rest butterscotch with walnuts. My test batch was pecans with the butterscotch — and all vanilla extract, no almond. They are for St. Patrick’s Day and the first day of spring, along with Key Lime Cheesecake Bars. You’ll have to await those until the next column for Easter.