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2012′s 12 Months of Giveaways {Giveaway 4: OXO Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer} CLOSED

IMG 3091 Edited 2012′s 12 Months of Giveaways {Giveaway 4: OXO Hand Held Mandoline Slicer} CLOSED

I’m bad with a knife. I don’t hold a knife properly (I don’t even know what properly is, I just know it’s not the full-fist, rigid death-grip I keep on my knife), and I can’t cut something into even slices to save my life. Given these shortcomings, I was beyond pleased when OXO offered me the opportunity to try their Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer. Since it’s the 12th day of the month, you may have guessed that not only did OXO provide a Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer for me to review, but they also provided a second Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer to share with one lucky reader!

I have wanted a mandoline for quite some time, and I always pictured the mandoline as a tool that sat on the counter and required nothing from me other than an object to slice. That said, I was a bit apprehensive about the “hand-held” aspect of OXO’s mandoline. I know my shortcomings, and sadly, coordination is not one of my strengths. I simply did not trust myself to hold the mandoline steady with one hand and slice with the other. My fears were quickly allayed as the non-slip handle was comfortable and easy to hold, and the non-slip foot stayed in place no matter the force I applied.

IMG 3068 Edited e1333926918386 2012′s 12 Months of Giveaways {Giveaway 4: OXO Hand Held Mandoline Slicer} CLOSED

Provided my issues with coordination, working with a sharp mandoline blade also presented safety issues. OXO’s Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer comes with a holder to secure the food in place across the top of the mandoline while simultaneously keeping the hands and fingers safe. The holder also sits on the madoline to protect the blade when not in use. In addition, the Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer is light-weight, easy to clean (dishwasher safe), and fits nicely over a cutting board, plate, or even a bowl. The hand-held aspect of the mandoline makes it slightly more compact than similar mandolines and easy to store, which is a much appreciated feature for anyone who has a tiny kitchen like me.

The Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer offers thin, medium, and thick slices, and there is no need to change blades between thicknesses. Though this means the tool cuts only flat slices, the ease of use far outweighs the options (like crinkle-cuts) that come with switching blades. The slicing adjustment moves very smoothly along the slide of the board, requiring no more than slight pressure from the thumb to switch between one of the three thicknesses. To learn even more about the OXO Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer and view a video of it in action, click to visit OXO’s site.

IMG 3072 Edited 2012′s 12 Months of Giveaways {Giveaway 4: OXO Hand Held Mandoline Slicer} CLOSED

From left to right, cucumber slices at level 1, level 2, and level 3.

As a cook, an OXO Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer is a great tool to use when slicing vegetables. I am looking forward to using my hand-held mandoline slicer on some potatoes, and I see homemade chips and au gratins in the near future! As a baker, the hand-held mandoline slicer will be perfect for slicing fruits for the tarts and gallettes I am determined to try this year.

To enter to win - this giveaway is now closed - your own OXO Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer, leave a comment on this blog post telling me about your favorite OXO product or the dish you will make if you win the mandoline. To earn additional entries, you can Like, Share, and Tweet about Love & Flour, OXO, and the giveaway.

IMG 3080 Edited e1333926855394 2012′s 12 Months of Giveaways {Giveaway 4: OXO Hand Held Mandoline Slicer} CLOSED

Now for the fine print. OXO provided the Hand-Held Mandoline Slicers at no charge to me, but the review is exclusively my own. This giveaway will end at 1201 a.m. EST on April 19, so be sure to comment, like, or tweet prior to that time for a chance to win. Apologies to international readers, as this giveaway is only open to readers with a shipping address in the United States. The winner will be chosen via my use of Rafflecopter and notified via email and/or announced in a blog post within 72 hours of the giveaway’s end.

Good Luck!!!

***This giveaway is now closed.  Thank you for entering!***


Triple Play: Triple Chip Banana Bars

IMG 2958 Edited Triple Play: Triple Chip Banana Bars

Have you ever set out in search of one thing and ended up searching for something else altogether? That was my experience last week when I set out to find a recipe other than my usual standbys, banana-nut muffins and banana bread, that would make use of  two bananas that were very quickly transitioning from overly ripe to black. I found a recipe for Banana Chocolate-Chip Squares in my King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook Triple Play: Triple Chip Banana Bars that would make use of the bananas. Except the recipe called for spelt flour, and the last thing I needed to purchase was yet another variety of flour. Unless….

So I set out to find a recipe that called for spelt flour. If you had an opportunity to read my last post, you already know my search led to Soft Currant Drops, which was great in its own right because it made use of the currants I baked in the Traditional Easter Cookies. And then I wrote the three posts in reverse order of my recipe search just to keep you on your toes.

IMG 2974 Edited e1333930732657 Triple Play: Triple Chip Banana Bars

What is spelt flour? According to the label on the Bob’s Red Mill spelt flour package, “Spelt is a non-hybrid primitive relative of our present day wheat that dates back more than 9,000 years.”  The packaging also stated spelt flour can be used in most recipes calling for wheat flour, especially yeast and quick breads. I am definitely looking forward to trying this substitution  because, though I like the idea of  baking with whole grain flour, I do not like what I consider to be the earthy, gritty taste of wheat flour.

IMG 2963 Edited Triple Play: Triple Chip Banana Bars

Fortunately, I had no trouble finding spelt flour. I purchased Bob’s Red Mill brand spelt flour at my local Earth Fare, though other grocery stores in my area also carry Bob’s Red Mill products.  In addition to Bob’s Red Mill, Earth Fare carries many other brands of packaged spelt flour as well as selling spelt flour in the bulk section. Please note,  it is not my intention for this  post to sound like a commercial for either Earth Fare or Bob’s Red Mill, but I did want to share my experience since I definitely think using spelt flour in this recipe is worth it.

IMG 2959 Edited e1333930638445 Triple Play: Triple Chip Banana Bars

The original Banana Chocolate-Chip Squares recipe called for topping the bars with one cup of chocolate chips and one cup of walnuts. Heaven forbid I follow a recipe as written, so I made the bars my own by topping them with one cup of chocolate chips, 1/2 cup of butterscotch chips and 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips. Alas, King Arthur’s Banana Chocolate-Chip Squares were transformed into LeAndra’s  Triple Chip Banana Bars. I also experimented by topping half of the banana squares with chocolate. After the squares cooled, I melted three ounces of chocolate with two tablespoons of butter and poured the mixture over the top of the cooled banana bars.

I shared my Triple Chip Banana Bars with co-workers, and the recipe was deemed a keeper. One friend suggested the banana bars could be improved if baked on top of a crisp crust, and I agree a bite of crunch would provide a nice balance to the very tender banana bars. What we could not figure out was exactly how to implement this. Pie crust does not sound appetizing, but maybe a chocolate cookie crumb would work? As for the verdict on the plain or chocolate-topped bars, the preference was a (banana) split at 50-50. Enjoy!

IMG 2981 Edited Triple Play: Triple Chip Banana Bars

Chippy Banana Squares
Recipe type: Dessert
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter
  • ¼ cups light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup mashed banana (from 2 or 3 overly ripe bananas)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1¾ cups spelt flour
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • optional ingredients
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • ½ cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup walnuts
  1. Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Beat in the banana, lemon juice, and vanilla.
  3. Add the egg and continue to mix while sprinkling in the cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.
  4. Add the spelt flour and mix until incorporated.
  5. Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan.
  6. Sprinkle the desired mix of chips and nuts on top.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes until the center is firm.
  8. If at all possible, allow to rest overnight before cutting and enjoying.

Soft Currant Drops

IMG 2984 Edited Edited Soft Currant Drops

If you have read Love & Flour for a while, you have probably picked up on the theme that I like to substitute little-used ingredients called for in a recipe for ingredients I have on hand. There are few things I resist more than the need to purchase one ingredient for one recipe when I can make something else work in its place. Time and time again, I come across blog posts where the cook/baker/writer laments purchasing an ingredient that ended up in the trash instead of an intended dish – the ingredient the victim of  procrastination or a forgetful mind.

I just threw away a package of decaying herbs that I bought with every intent of baking into something delicious. But my recipe got buried at the bottom of my to-do list and the herbs went MIA in the refrigerator until it was too late. If someone told me to take $2.99 out of my wallet and put it in the trash can, I would tell them to get their head checked. Yet when I transfer that $2.99 to a package of herbs that ends up in the trash can, I simply sigh and move on. Sounds like I’m the one who might need to get my head checked.

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While making a point, a friend recently argued one dollar one hundred years ago meant something a lot different than what one dollar means today. On the other hand, a bowl of oatmeal one thousand years ago nourished a human body the same way it does today. Makes you think about value in a different light, doesn’t it?

The point to this long story is I did not want to purchase a box of currants for Traditional Easter Cookies and let the remaining  baby raisins sit orphaned in my pantry until I found them months later rock hard, coated in mold, or otherwise unusable.  So I set out to find another recipe making use of currants, and that is where the Soft Currant Drops come in.

IMG 3005 Edited e1333656767726 Soft Currant Drops

I was pleased when I found a Soft Currant Drops recipe in my King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook Soft Currant Drops. I was less pleased when I found it called for spelt flour. Was it worth buying a new ingredient (spelt flour) to make us of the existing ingredient (currants)? I decided it would be worth it provided I could bake other desserts with the spelt flour. Be sure to check back early next week for another delicious recipe that makes use of spelt flour.

The recipe included a note to rest the dough overnight to avoid baking overly flat cookies. Spelt has a higher water solubility than other  grains, so without  proper rest, the dough flattens too quickly when baked. A few hours after I had mixed the soft currant cookie dough, it dawned on me to compare cookies baked with the unrested and the rested dough. Since this did not occur to me right away, the dough without rest actually rested about four hours before baking. Can you tell the cookie on the left is slightly more flat?

IMG 3010 Edited Soft Currant Drops

The dough for the cookie on the left rested about four hours. The dough for the cookie on the right rested overnight.

I shared these soft currant drops with a few of my co-workers, and I am pleased to report they were met with good reviews. Though the “mmms” coming from them as they chewed clued me in I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the cookies, any lingering doubts of  deliciousness were eradicated near the end of the day they asked for seconds. Success!

The original recipe also called for two cups of currants, where I used only one. Since I used only one cup of currants in the cookies, I still have some currants left in my box. I have no doubt the few left over will find good use sprinkled on a bowl of oatmeal to nourish me.

IMG 2995 Edited Soft Currant Drops

Soft Currant Drops
Recipe type: Dessert
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
  • 1½ cups spelt flour
  • 1-2 cups dried currants
  1. Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Sprinkle in the baking powder, then beat in the egg and the vinegar.
  3. Mix in the spelt flour.
  4. Fold in the currants.
  5. Cover and refrigerate the dough overnight.
  6. The following day, drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto parchment lined baking sheets.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes until the centers appear firm.