“Your work has been named as a Finalist in the 2016 Arizona Literary Contest.”  These were the first words that greeted me when I saw the email. Wow! I was very happy, but amazed since Tremors in the Cloister was my first published work.  To me, it was practice.  I had read a lot of books on writing: the “how-to’s” and the “avoid this”.  I never thought that this work would be a finalist in the contest.  Entering the contest was another practice.  There were times when I wondered if I should be doing this (writing), feeling that I must be at best mediocre, but now I am encouraged that I am not so bad after all.

Fruit Oat Squares


Apricot Bars
Fruit Oat Squares

This is a popular recipe and I have seen variants of it in several cookbooks.  It is versatile in that many dried fruits can be used as the filling, and very wholesome.

Crust                                                                        Filling                                    

1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour                        1-1/3 cups dried prunes, apricots,

3/4 cup rolled oats                                                   cherries, or figs

3/4 teaspoon baking soda                               1-1/4 cup boiling water

1/4 teaspoon salt                                               1-2 tablespoons honey, depending on

1-1/4 teaspoons cinnamon                                       sweetness of fruit

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

10 dates, finely chopped

1/2 cup oil

1 tablespoon water



2 tablespoons turbinado sugar


  1. Soak dried fruit with boiling water in a covered bowl for 2 hours or overnight. Puree fruit with soaking water in a food processor, transfer back to a bowl, and add honey.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350o Lightly oil a 9” x 9” baking pan.
  3. To prepare crust, mix together the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, sugar, and finely chopped dates in a large bowl. Mix in the oil a little bit at a time and toss mixture with a fork to form pea-sized crumbs.  Add water and toss this into mixture with a fork.
  4. Place one-half of the crust mixture in a baking pan and press it flat into the bottom of the pan and 1/2” up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust for 15 minutes until light brown and remove from oven to cool.
  5. Spoon the fruit filling into the baked crust and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the other half of reserved crust mixture on top of the filling and press it down lightly with your fingers.  Sprinkle topping of turbinado sugar onto the top crust.
  6. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until lightly brown on top and firm. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool.   Makes 16 squares.




Hawaiian Bars

Hawaiian Bars
Hawaiian Bars


As Hans and Randy eventually peeled off from the bakery, I needed a paid employee to mind the counter while I was out making deliveries.  I hired a teenage African-American girl who lived near the bakery.  She was a sweet girl, and she gave me a mug as a Christmas present which I still have today.  One day when I was at the bakery she came to me and confessed that she had taken money out of the cash register.  I knew she came from a disadvantaged family and probably needed the money more than I did.  I was touched that she trusted me enough to let me know what she had done.  So I said to her, “Stealing is not the right thing to do.  Next time you need money, come to me and we will talk about it.”   She agreed and there were no further incidents.


Crust                                                                 Filling                                   

1 cup whole wheat flour                               20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained (1-1/2 cups)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda                             2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 teaspoon salt                                             2 tablespoons honey

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon                 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 cup turbinado sugar                               2 tablespoons whole wheat or barley flour

6 finely chopped dates                                 2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup oil

1 tablespoon water



2 tablespoons shredded coconut

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350o Lightly oil a 9” x 9” baking pan.
  2. Mix flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, turbinado sugar, and dates for the crust. Add oil gradually and mix with a fork to form pea-sized balls.  Add water and mix with fork.  Press dough into the baking pan with your fingers going 1/2” up the sides of the pan.  Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven when light brown and firm and place on a rack to cool.

3.  While the crust is in the oven, mix the crushed pineapple, coconut, honey, ginger, flour and eggs in a medium size bowl. Place the filling on top of the baked crust, smooth with a rubber spatula, and sprinkle top of filling with shredded coconut and turbinado sugar.  Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes until the filling is set.

4.  Remove pan from oven and place on a rack to cool. Makes 16 squares.