I’m going to admit it…I sometimes like torturing myself by looking at pictures of seriously yummy looking food. I tend to do this most often when I’m feeling particularly hungry, it enhances the actual physical pain. Lucky for me, I discovered yet another designer in our community who has plenty of fodder for me to drool over. The luminous Julie Romanenko, the designer behind Just Jules, doesn’t just enjoy creating fabulous gem-intensive designs and (my personal favorite!) “incarnations” of vintage locket necklaces, she’s also a passionate cook/baker! Julie was kind enough to share her thoughts about her passion with me, and after ogling images of some of her tastiest treats, I also got her to share with all of us her recipe for pecan pie bars. So loosen those belts, people, tack on some more time at the gym, and get eating!
I think there is a direct correlation between creating jewelry and cooking/baking. Both come from the creative self. I find that cooking calms me and I love puttering around in my kitchen, and in my garden, almost as much as I love sitting at my bench with a tray full of jewels. I am so fortunate to have fans in both arenas, customer who love my jewelry and a husband who looks forward to pretty much whatever I make for him to eat (unless it involves coconut!!)!
Just as my passion for jewelry came from my maternal Grandmother, my love for cooking was passed down from that same grandmother, to my mother and then to me. I remember as a very small child learning how to make jam with my maternal great grandmother, a recipe I use to this day.
When I first starting doing trade shows, I would bring home-baked cookies and cakes with me. Customers really looked forward to these treats, oftentimes asking what there was to eat before even looking in the showcases! I love this and still do it, 25 years later. I think the cookies are a little fancier now, thanks to a diamond shaped cookie cutter!
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup butter (cold)
- 4 tablespoons milk
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups chopped pecans
- ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 4 tablespoons butter (melted)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13×9 inch baking pan. Set aside.
- In small mixing bowl stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Using either a pastry blender, fork, or butter knife cut in the ¾ cup butter (slice the butter into tablespoon size slices, add it to the flour mixture, and mash it up until the mixture resembles crumbs)
- Pour in the milk and mix with fork, then with hands to ensure the moisture is evenly distributed in the flour mixture.
- Press the dough into the greased baking pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, the top of the crust will be a light brown color.
- While the crust is baking, prepare the pecan pie topping. In a medium size bowl lightly beat the eggs. Add in the light brown sugar, light corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla extract, and chopped pecans. Stir to combine. Spread this over the hot crust after it’s baked for the 20 minutes.
- Bake again for another 20 minutes, or until the pecan pie filling has set (when you wiggle the pan the filling will no longer jiggle). Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut into bars.
- *I found it easier to slice into bars when the bars were cold. Just place in refrigerator for about 20 minutes or until cold and slice.
- *I also loved eating them when they were cold! These can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature or in the fridge for 3-4 days.