Fall Flavors

While I’ve been writing my various Amish series, where some of the characters spend a lot of time cooking up yummy stuff, I’ve been on a continuous hunt for new recipes. Sometimes, however, the best new recipes are old ones! I was tickled to find these Date and Raisin Saucepan Bars in the centennial cookbook of my husband’s hometown, Walnut, Iowa—and even more excited because it was his mom’s recipe. Now that she’s been gone a year, we treasure our memories of her cooking and crafting. (I confess that I increased the amount of spices and used brown sugar rather than white.)

When I baked a batch of these bars and Neal bit into one, he said, “Oh, I remember Mom making these!” It made my day—and his! These bars pack a flavorful punch of cinnamon and ground cloves—some of my favorite fall flavors—and frosting them while they’re still hot makes them especially moist. Best of all, you don’t need a mixer and you stir them together in a pan, so prep and cleanup are quick and easy.

 

 

Date and Raisin Saucepan Bars

½ cup shortening (such as Crisco)

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup water

1cup raisins

1 8-oz. box chopped dates

1 T. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cloves

Dash of salt

2 cups flour

¾ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1 tsp. baking soda

1/ 2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350º. In a 2-quart pan, combine the shortening, brown sugar, water, raisins, dates, and spices. Heat to a gentle simmer and cook three minutes. Remove from heat. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and then stir them all into a dense batter. Spread batter in a sprayed 10×15-inch sheet pan and bake about 15 minutes, until just firm in the center. While the bars bake, mix the frosting, and spread it on right after you’ve taken the bars from the oven.

Frosting

2 T. softened butter

¼ cup milk

2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. rum or almond flavoring

Dash of salt

2 ½ – 3 cups powdered sugar.

Combine the soft butter, milk and flavorings with 1 cup of the powdered sugar until butter is completely blended in. Add remaining powdered sugar and beat until thick and spreadable.

 

“Hubbard writes Amish stories with style and grace.” —RT Book Reviews

The rustic beauty of a country Christmas fills the Simple Gifts crafts shop, while the Amish residents of Willow Ridge pull together in uncertain times—and in the face of an unexpected homecoming.

Nora Hooley’s shop is abuzz with preparations for the holiday open house, and Rosalyn Riehl is handcrafting wreaths from evergreen boughs, pinecones, and other natural materials. The work is a welcome diversion for the only unmarried daughter of Cornelius Riehl: her gruff dat has been receiving envelopes marked Past Due, leaving dutiful Rosalyn to manage the household’s inexplicably shrinking budget. Then another distraction swaggers into Simple Gifts—blue-jeaned and leather-jacketed, with a reputation that precedes him.

Marcus Hooley hightailed it to Willow Ridge on a wing and a prayer—not that he’s the praying type. He rejected his Amish roots long ago. But behind the bad-boy attitude is a gifted horse trainer who’s counting on some bent-but-not-broken family ties to throw him a lifeline. He can’t erase his past, but a sparking attraction with strong, spirited Rosalyn holds the promise of a second chance . . . and of shedding light on shadowy secrets to build a bright tomorrow.

Praise for A Simple Vow

“Charlotte Hubbard has a way of writing that draws you into the story from beginning to end.” —Romance Junkies