Last Wednesday, I started out to take my little bundle of joy, the gift that keeps on giving — Bentley. He was looking like a sheep that was long overdue for a shearing. I wonder if poodles are descendants of sheep.

Anyway, I got on the highway and it was raining so hard I turned around went back home. I couldn’t see. My wipers were on high and didn’t help. Bentley, as brave as he is, was whining, so I took that as a sign and went back home.

No sooner than I get home and call to tell them I can’t come, the rain lets up. So I call back (and all this calling is the Snooty Poodle) and tell them I can drive him back. So I do. Susan was so sweet she told me that if the rain was that hard when it was time to come get him she would bring him home.

No, I’m not special, they do that for people who need it. Now that’s what customer service is all about.

Now do you see what an exciting life I live?

The only other thing is I have a bet with my bro (Dr. Khanh Bui) on the basketball playoffs. I’m taking the Golden State Warriors. And I don’t wish them any bad luck, but I hope they lose because I have a way to pay him the $5 we always bet that is so nasty he won’t get to spend it unless he is willing to work for it. Believe me he has done a lot worse. We keep our bets at $5 because it costs us more to pay off. We are both warped, but in a good way.

n n n

Does Becky know me or what? I love anything lemon, and I eat blueberries every morning with my cereal. But, she also knows me well enough to know I’ll wait until one of my friends make this and then give me some.

Blueberry-Lemon Crunch Bars

INGREDIENTS

Filling: 4 cups fresh blueberries

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 tablespoon lemon zest

3 tablespoons fresh juice, from 2 lemons

Crust: 2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

5 tablespoons vegetable shortening

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 tablespoons heavy cream

Topping: 1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the filling: Combine berries, sugar, cornstarch, zest, and juice in a saucepan over medium-high; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, mashing berries as they cook, until thick and bubbly, about 10 minutes. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Prepare the Crust: Stir together flour, pecans, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

Combine sugar, butter and shortening in a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, beating until combined. Gradually add cream, beating on low speed until incorporated.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat at low speed until well combined. Divide dough in half; place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape each half into a 6- by 4-inch rectangle, about 1-inch thick. Wrap and freeze 2 hours.

Prepare the Topping: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut butter into mixture until it resembles small pebbles. Chill until ready to use.

Using a grater or a food processor fitted with a grating blade, grate half of the dough (leaving the other half in the freezer). Press grated dough into bottom of a 9-inch square pan coated with cooking spray. Bake in preheated oven until beginning to brown around edges, 12 to 14 minutes.

Remove pan from oven. Carefully spread filling over crust, from edge to edge. Grate remaining half of dough, and sprinkle over filling; gently press. Sprinkle topping over dough. Bake in preheated oven until well browned, 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool completely on wire rack, about 2 hours. Cut into 12 bars.

Becky,

I know this a no-brainer for you, but for me being allergic to the big stove I have and the amount of patience I have in the kitchen, I will certainly have to wait for someone I know to make this and give me some. It sounds delicious. I really do wish we lived next door to each other.

Yes, I’m willing to relocate to become your next-door neighbor in the good state of Washington.

If you have recipes or tips to share, or a request, send to Conversations with Gin, P.O. Box 334, Clute TX. 77531, or ginscolumn@hotmail.com.

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