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Saturday, September 23, 2006 

Ojai...one hot place to be now

quite literally and figuratively. The "Day Fire" has been burning since Labor Day! The air here up in Santa Barbara has a particularly chewy, ashy, smokey flavor to it, but nothing like they are experiencing down in Ojai.

A couple of blogs keeping track of the fire, and all things "Ojai"....The Ojai Post and Ojaiblog. Our thoughts are with everyone down there. We are hoping that the Santa Ana winds don't pick up, although, the wind chimes outside are beginning to tinkle a little more as the hours pass this morning.

Yesterday I went to the annual Planned Parenthood Booksale at Earl Warren Showgrounds. I thought I would pick up a book or two...but, alas.....I got quite the haul of cookbooks, one being "Ojai's Bounty", a Morris Press cookbook put together by "Members and Friends of the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy" It includes some rather interesting recipes with some rather "unusual" ingredients. Cherimoyas. Lavendar. Violets. All so very, well, Edibly Ojai!

Peggy Russel submitted her recipe for Pecan Shortbread Raspberry Cookies that won first place in a Land O'Lakes sponsored contest.

Award Winning Pecan Shortbread Raspberry Cookies

1 cup softened unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup ground pecans
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbs raspberry preserves (seedless)
Powdered sugar for tops of cookies

This recipe captured first place in a nationwide cookie competition back in 1999.

In a large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium to high for 30 seconds. Add sugar, vanilla and extract; beat until fluffy, scraping bowl often. Beat in flour and pecans until combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap. Chill 1 - 2 hours or until dough is easy to handle. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough, half at a time, to 1/8 inch thickness. Using a 2 inch round scalloped cookie cutter, cut rounds from dough. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Using a 1 inch round cutter, cut centers from half of the unbaked cookies. Remove centers and reroll dough to make more cookies. Bake in a 305 degree oven for 7 - 9 minutes. To assemble: Sift powdered sugar ovver tops of cookies with holes. Set aside. Spread about 1/2 teaspoon preserves onto bottom of each cookie without a hole. Top with cookie with hole, sugar side up. Makes about 40.

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