Monday, November 04, 2019

Return To Baking

When last we 'spoke', the power had been shut off and I was planning on camping at home. Wrong...before I knew it I was evacuating from my home at 4 in the morning with Sweetie and Pi dog and our dear friend from Healdsburg who had evacuated to us the previous night. Off we drove to San Francisco to stay with Sweetie's sister and brother-in-law. Power was still off, but a public safety neighbor who had to stay in the area kept the generator for the fridge going at intervals while we were gone, so no food lost, just sleep.

Waking up to smoke apparently sets me off. I wasn't a good camper and felt very stressed even though the likelihood of the fire making it to our home was slim. Our time in San Francisco was as lovely as possible with good food and company. Pi was a very good dog and even seemed to like the trip. We returned home as soon as the evacuation was lifted even though we were still without power except for what the generator provided. Back to camping.

Before the power was back on I took off to Portland for a planned vacation where I would meet up with three other women, including my daughter, and we would celebrate Halloween together, get dressed up, and hand out a ton of candy to little kids. It was just the kind of fun I needed to bring back my sense of humor. Fortunately the power had been restored before I returned home, so all I had to do once home was put away all the Kincade wildfire supplies and get on with life.

Of course that 'getting on with' included baking. Yesterday I made some chocolate chip pumpkin bread for a meeting that was scheduled for this morning (and had been canceled last week due to the fire) and then I made cookies. When in doubt, make cookies!

This recipe was given to me years ago by my friend Jeanne. She died last year and her birthday was during the evacuation, so it seems fitting to bake these in her memory. She was the best baker I ever met...anything she baked was always perfect and baking seemed to be almost effortless on her part. These cookies are pretty easy, full of spices and raisins and nuts, with the deep undertone of good coffee. The glaze on the top no only makes them pretty, but it adds to the coffee flavor.

These are fairly thin cookie bars, but moist. The batter is usually curdled once you add the coffee to the butter mixture, but it turns out just fine once the other ingredients are added. Once these are baked, cooled and glazed, I cut the bake into quarters and remove the quarters from the pan to cut the bars on a cutting board. You can also cut them in the pan and then use an offset spatula to remove them from the pan. Here they are baked but not yet glazed.


Leaving Saturday to fly to Portland again, this time to help a friend who has had eye surgery (different friend than Halloween). I feel lucky to have so many Portland and Oregon friends since it is a lovely city and state. Sweetie will again be home with our dog and keeping the household going. He has lots of projects to get things ship shape for the rain, which we hope will be coming soon.

Frosted Coffee Bars
From Jeanne Nahmens
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
½ cup strong coffee, cooled
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup raisins
¼ cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
2 tablespoons half and half
2 tablespoons brewed coffee, cooled
enough confectioners to make a glaze, about 1 cup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Blend together the butter, brown sugar and egg. Add the coffee and mix to incorporate.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add to butter mixture and blend.

Add the raisins and nuts and stir to combine.

Turn batter into a greased and floured 9” x 13” pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until bars start pulling away from the side and are golden brown.

Let cool and then frost with a glaze made by combining the half and half, coffee, and powdered sugar.

Cut into bars to serve.

Makes 18 long bars or 36 smaller squares


  1. It's been a kind of ridiculous time - we're just getting back to normal here, too. More smoke this far South than expected, but San Jose/Saratoga fire and Martinez/East Bay fires really "helped" with that. Ready to stop smelling smoke and getting anxious, too. Really hoping for the rain...

  2. The Kinkaid fire is finally fully contained, which should help with the smoke. Sorry that you had east and south bay smoke, too. Yes, ready for the rain, but looks like its not ready for us yet. :(