Thursday, January 9, 2014

raspberry jam crumble bars

"An artist is nothing without his or her obsessions, and I have mine."
-Andres Serrano


In English, the word "obsession" has a  negative connotation.  

From Mariah Carey taunting us all with "why you so obsessed with me?," to the fact that being "obsessive" seems synonymous to having a "disorder."

Who said being "obsessive" is a bad thing?  Does being "obsessed" with something make you a crazy person?

I don't think so.  In fact, I think that I can be an "obsessive" person, and it's one of my favorite things about myself. 

The root of my obsessions lie in things that I'm passionate about.  Today, I'm going to talk about two of my obsessions: baking and writing. 

Are you an obsess-er too?  How do you know what an obsession feels like?  For me, it feels like a mosquito bite that I've been trying to ignore too long -- I have to itch it. 

It's like when I get home from school, throw my backpack onto the floor, and power walk to the kitchen.  In no time, I've got the oven preheated to 350 degrees, the KitchenAid whipping at full-speed, and a stick of butter softening in the microwave.  I haven't even taken my coat off.  

It's like right now, when it's 12a.m. on a Friday night, I'm sitting in bed with my notebook and laptop typing away about obsessions.  Most kids are probably watching T.V., doing homework, or partying -- I'm sitting here trying to think of a way to describe the feeling when I can't sit still and have the sudden urge to whip up a vanilla buttercream. 

It feels naughty sometimes, like watching six episodes of Wipeout! in a row or eating an entire pint of Java Chip Frappuccino Ice Cream in one sitting.  I feel like I shouldn't do it but I really really want to.  That's how I feel about baking and writing. That's when I knew I was obsessed. 

Everyone from Martha Stewart to Gwyneth Paltrow to Michelle Obama all seem to be touting living a "balanced" "whole" life.  These buzz-words are on the cover of every woman's magazine and snuggled in the pages of all advice books.  Although I believe that some balance is needed for survival and happiness (balanced meals, hydration, family time, alone time, homework time), I think that if you're super passionate about something, obsessed with it, why try to fight that?

Obsessions are things that don't feel like work -- you can do them for days and weeks and the hours just slip away.  I can stand over a layer cake for hours, I can sweat over a short story for days.  Since it's so effortless to spend a lot of time on the things that you're "obsessed" with -- you will naturally get better at them with time.  Practice makes better.  Thanks to my obsession, my cakes no longer look like science experiments, and I no longer write short stories about elves and horses.  Now, thanks to my "obsessions" I make cakes with buttercream roses, and I write short stories about real things, like trying to go vegan, the perils of driver's ed, and the smell of Astroturf in May.

If spending an hour at the gym as part of a "balanced" day makes you want to lock yourself in a closet, but you're itching to go dancing this Friday night.  Why in the world would you strap yourself to the treadmill? Life is SHORT (and dancing is great exercise).  I'm not saying that we should all just neglect unpleasant responsibilities, but if they're not vitally important to us, we can let them go and succumb to our obsessions. 

I whipped up these raspberry jam crumble bars approximately thirty seven minutes after I handed in my English exam last week.  Obsessive behavior? Perhaps.  Am I concerned? Not at all.
With love,
Erica

Ingredients
2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 oz. raspberry jam (or any other flavor you like)
1 cup granola without dried fruit

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper. With your electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter until combined.  Add vanilla.  Sift flour and salt together, add to the butter mixture until it all sticks together in a ball.  Place dough on a board.  Gently press 2/3 of the dough evenly in the bottom of your pan and about 1/4 inch up the sides.  Spread evenly with jam.  Mix the granola into the remaining dough, break it into small bits and crumble them on top of the jam, covering the surface.  Bake for 45 min, cool completely, cut into squares, and enjoy!

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4 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you! They are super buttery and crumbly!

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  2. That looks easy and yummy which is a great combo. As always I love to read your stories. Being obsessed with something is usually the only way to get really good at it. If you have seen my latest blog post you will know that I have some spare jam.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! I read your most recent post, those jams look lovely! You could try making these raspberry bars if you have any extra! You could even make them gluten free by using almond meal of GF flour as a sub for the flour!

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