I'm leery of recipes that come from -- well -- places you wouldn't expect to find recipes.
Take the PG&E newsletter that's included with your bill. Once, years ago, it had a recipe for Basque stew. What does PG&E know about stew? And just why does it want us to make it? Does the stew take a really long time time to cook and use up lots of energy?
I've also found recipes in other strange places: My newsletter for adoptive parents; television station Web sites; even on a Web site whose sole purpose appears to be to list all the towns in Texas that have odd names (I'm still not sure how I ended up there).
This week's recipe for pumpkin pecan pie bars comes from a strange source, but at least it's one that has a tenuous connection to food. It was included in a past issue of the Arizona Farm Bureau magazine. (No, I am not a farmer from Arizona. The recipe was sent in by a reader).
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I chose it because it seemed like a good replacement for pumpkin pie. I hate pumpkin pie, and I imagine I'm not the only one. I don't mind making it -- it smells really yum -- but I can't stand eating it. Too mushy. Too pumpkin-y. Too much.
So, these bars seemed like a good alternative, maybe even one I could serve on Thanksgiving in lieu of pie. Don't tell my husband, though. If he hears there's no pie, he might boycott. And then who would do all those dishes?
Shopping was easy. I had most of the ingredients, and I bought chopped pecans to save time. I forgot to pick up pumpkin pie spice, though, so I had to search cookbooks for substitutions. (I found one in my ancient edition of "The Moosewood Cookbook": ¼ teaspoon powdered cloves; 3 teaspoons cinnamon and 1½ teaspoons ginger.)
When I got ready to make the bars, I realized I had forgotten another important component: the pan. I burned my last jellyroll pan to a crisp earlier this year, cooking a peach pie that bubbled over -- and over and over. So the kids and I ran to the store and picked up a pan while the oven was preheating.
Ah, the kids. This is, theoretically, a good recipe to make with children. My 3-year-old punched down the crust, after jamming fistfuls of the butter-sugar-flour mixture in her mouth. That was after she dumped the carton of oatmeal on the floor.
For my part, I ate quite a number of pecans while the pumpkin mixture was cooking. So, we were left with a thin crust and an only slightly crunchy topping.
Still, the bars turned out good, very good, after being stored in the refrigerator overnight. I would serve these for Thanksgiving no problem.
Who would have thought something so good came from such an unusual place? Maybe I'll try to find that recipe for Basque stew.
Bee staff writer Kerry McCray can be reached at 578-2358 or at email@example.com.