Cambrian: Opinion

Comets, drums & cheesecake bars

I was delighted to observe the comet Pan-STARRS (named after the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System in Hawaii used to discover it) from the ridge on Highway 46 West during the New Moon phase when no moon is visible to obscure the night sky with its light.

Thrilling though it was, it was not so spectacular for me as Hale-Bopp in the late ’90s, or as predictable as Halley’s in the mid ’80s. I love stargazing and follow the change of seasons faithfully, this year observing the Equinox on March 20 out on Moonstone Beach.

As a Catholic, I will celebrate Easter on Sunday, March 31, a variable feast established on the eastern hemisphere’s lunar cycle by the Church to be on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Equinox, which means its date can vary by a full month on our western world’s solar-based calendar. Our Jewish brethren have already begun to observe Passover, also based on the lunar calendar.

I had the pleasure of hosting Micko Segobia at the Cambria Historical Museum last Sunday as we opened our newest exhibits there, including a wonderful one about the Salinan tribe who ranged locally in the early days of our history. Segobia is a Salinan drummer from Jolon who brought his large cottonwood drum covered with elk hide; and as he dusted it with sage, cedar berries and tobacco from his medicine bag, gave tribute to the spirits of the four directions.

As Star People, the Central Coast tribes had wonderful chants and rhythmical beats to honor the Great Spirit, Mother Earth, women, buffalo, the coyote and the eagle. He included these in his two-hour repertoire, and we also enjoyed the “crow hop,” a lullaby and a unique song of his which he sang to Kylee, his daughter who sat with us under the oak tree in the museum’s front yard. We look forward to his return for future events in Cambria as well as at missions San Antonio and San Miguel.

As promised, we bring you Penny Church’s winning and rich recipe which we served cut in small, appetizer-sized pieces, but which would be a prize-winning dessert at your Easter table if cut larger:

No-Bake Key Lime Cheesecake Bars

Crust:

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 9-oz. ounce pkg. chocolate wafer cookies

2 tblsp. granulated sugar

Filling:

1/2 cup fresh Key lime juice (from about 10 Key limes) or bottled Key lime juice

2 tsp. unflavored gelatin powder (from one 1/4-oz packet)

1/4 cup sugar

2 – 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, at room temp

1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

Butter a 9- by 13-inch baking dish or line it with foil, allowing an overhang. Place the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring until melted and smooth. Crush the cookies and mix the sugar in. Add the warm melted butter and chocolate, and mix until well-combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and refrigerate while you make the filling.

Warm the lime juice in a small saucepan over low heat; whisk in the gelatin and sugar until completely dissolved, then remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with a mixer on high speed until smooth. Add in the gelatin/lime mixture and vanilla. Spread in the prepared crust and refrigerate at least four hours until firm.

Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring, until smooth. Drizzle over the cheesecake and refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice into bars (makes about 24). Penny adapted this recipe from a magazine article.

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