Sandra Kehoe

Basketmaker & Willow Artist

Granny's Lemon Bars

So these lemon bars are probably one of my all time favorite desserts.  My great-grandmother used to make them all the time for all our family get-to-gethers. 

Of course I altered her recipe just a bit so I could use my favorite Meyer lemons from Lemon Ladies Orchard.  Place an order for Karen's lemons and you'll understand why.  Support small growers and farmers; it's a practice I wish I could do more often.

And these lemon bars do not disappoint.  I altered it so I'm basically only left with a half batch, because I will honestly destroy the entire amount made.

Oh! And you could also sneak in some powered lemon peel into the crust if you want.  Just gives it that extra tartness.  

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Granny's Lemon Bars

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one glass cake pan 8 X 11 inches or 9 X 13 inches

1/2 cup (one stick) melted butter
1 cup flour
1/2 (scant) cup of powdered sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
5 Tablespoons Meyer Lemon juice (about two large Meyer lemons)
Zest from one Meyer lemon (optional)

Additional powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a glass baking pan (8 X 11 or 9 X 13) with parchment paper and set aside.  In a large bowl mix the melted butter with the flour and powdered sugar until combined into a dough.  Press the dough evenly into the parchment lined baking pan with your fingers or the back of a spoon.  Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.  While the crust bakes whisk the remaining ingredients in a large bowl until combined.  When the crust is done pre-baking, pour the lemon mixture over the top and return back to the oven to bake for an additional 20-25 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and let the bars cool completely before sprinkling on some powdered sugar.  Cut and serve.   

Pignoli Cookies

So I'm adding yet another random recipe to my blog.  I lost interest in the whole "food blog" thing a few years ago, but having my favorite recipes online is always handy.  I don't need to go searching through piles of books and when someone asks for a recipe...bam...here's the link!

So every Christmas since I was a teenager I have been making Christmas cookies for my family. Every year we spend a few days making thousands and thousands of cookies, dividing them all up and giving them out as gifts.

This was the very first year in about 16+ years that we didn't have our Christmas cookie extravaganza.  I thought I would be more upset to let this tradition go, but to be honest I'm really glad that I did.  I'm thoroughly looking forward to getting through this holiday season and starting a new year with a new purpose. 

So out of the 20 some odd cookies I used to make, these Pignoli cookies were a new addition last year.  I got an amazing recipe from a friend and expert so to say!  All I'm going to say is that if you are looking for a recipe for an Italian cookie, you better go to the source. 

I really wanted to make these so I decided that I would make at least one batch. 

These are definitely one of my favorites, and definitely one I will be making every year to come, even if it is just so I can have them for myself.  

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Pignoli Cookies

1 lb of almond paste

½ lb of granulated sugar

3 egg whites

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Pine nuts

Preheat oven to 350.  In a stand mixer, beat almond paste and sugar together until combined and grainy.  Add egg whites one at a time and beat until a smooth paste has formed.  Add vanilla and continue to beat for a few minutes.   Spoon batter onto parchment lined baking sheets and sprinkle with pine nuts.  OR spoon batter directly into a bowl full of pine nuts and cover the ball of batter completely.  (Depends on how many pine nuts you can get a hold of.)  Bake for 15-18 minutes until slightly browned.  Let cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack.

Natural Fibers & Twining at Roots School in Vermont

This last weekend I was lucky enough to travel back up to the Roots School in Vermont.  The first time I visited the school I was there for a willow basket class.  This time was two separate classes: one in processing natural fibers and the second for twining basketry.

Sarah, one of the founders and teachers of the school is extremely knowledgeable in this area. We talked about pretty much every type of fiber; plant, animal and mineral.  The main fiber we worked with on the first day was dogbane. We learned how to take the raw material (a stick basically) and turn it into the most luxurious and soft fiber for making cordage or spinning. 

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In the first picture below you see the dogbane that was split into four pieces and the process of removing the inner woody core.  In the second picture below I have a handful of the fibers that then get rubbed together to remove the outer waxy cuticle. Then, above you can see the cordage that I made out of the dogbane. The third picture below is Yucca fibers that we learned process by stripping the plant matter off with a knife or spoon. 

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We also got a chance to try a little drop spinning with wool fibers.  I've always admired spinners but after learning a bit of how it's done, I don't think I'll be seeking out spinning classes at this point. 

We also corded some siberian iris and bast wood fibers. 

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On the second day the next class was twining.  Basically we took the materials we learned to process and made baskets out of them. Twining is a very basic technique in basketry. Almost every basket has some form of twining in it. The two baskets below are the ones I finished that second day.

Overall it was yet again an awesome experience and I'm so glad I got the opportunity to take both these classes this year.  

The first is made from cattail, iris and yucca fibers. The second is jute, wool and bast fibers.

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Willow Snowflakes

I have always been obsessed with making snowflakes.  As a child I would cut them out of paper, until I discovered you could use very thin yarn and crochet them! 

So many different willow artists create fun ornaments or small items around the holiday season; little willow stars or trees, and sometimes hearts.  I've made trees before but I was never really enthused about them.  For a long time I tried to figure out how I could make willow snowflakes.

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The other day I stumbled across a wheat weaving website that sold kits on how to weave wheat snowflake ornaments.  With my german and swedish ancestry I've always been drawn to these beautiful ornaments and wondered how they were made.  So I picked up a kit and started to teach myself.  

Once I learned the basics I was so excited to start working with willow because I was sure I could make it work.  Thanks to a cleave that I picked up from Bonnie Gale I was on my way to skeining some leftover tips from a previous project.

I was so happy with the end results and the ease at which I could make these. The bulk of the time is in skeining the willow but even that is a great exercise for the hands.  

My hope is to make more of these in the future and possibly sell them next year at a craft fair or two. I am going to try all the colors of willow I have to create more interest and variation. What is wonderful is that each snowflake can be altered slightly to create a different pattern, which keeps my busy wondering mind at attention. 

I can't wait until it snows so I can take some great pictures of these outside. 

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