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Almond harvest sets a record

The last commercial harvest of almonds set a record at 450 million pounds. It's one reason producers are now marketing almonds more aggressively with advertisements you've probably seen. For consumers this means lower prices, especially on bulk orders of 10 or 20 pounds, at a time when all else seems to be rising.

It couldn't happen to a nicer food. Almonds make friends with nearly every section of a cookbook -- from soups to breads, vegetables, meats, fish, and desserts. Granola 2 cups regular oats 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ 1/3 cup blanched chopped almonds 1/4 cup instant dehydrated milk 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds 2 tablespoons corn oil 1/4 cup honey 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup raisins Combine oats, wheat germ, almonds, dry milk, and sesame seeds. Mix in oil. Stir in honey. Blend in sugar.

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Spread on large baking sheet. Bake at 250 degrees F. for 30 to 40 minutes, or until well browned. Cool on baking sheet to harden. Break apart and place in large bowl. Mix in raisins. Makes 6 to 10 servings. Green Beans Amandine 1 pound fresh string beans, snapped, cut lengthwise French style 1/3 cup almonds, blanched and slivered 3 tablespoons sweet butter 2 teaspoons olive oil Pinch of thyme Steam beans until tender. Saute almonds in mixture of melted butter, oil, and thyme until lightly toasted. Add beans to almonds, mix together, and heat. Serves 4. Almond-Orange Loaf 1/4 cup almonds, blanched, split, toasted, and ground (reserve 8 halves) 1 navel orange, peeled and sectioned 1/3 cup milk 1/3 cup orange juice 2 tablespoons honey 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons sweet butter 1 large egg, slightly beaten 1 tablespoon dry yeast 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 6 orange sections Glaze: 1/4 cup orange juice 3 tablespoons sugar 1/2 tablespoon grated fresh orange rind Heat milk, orange juice, honey, salt, and butter together, stirring to melt butter. Remove from heat and add egg and ground almonds. Dissolve yeast in 2 tablespoons of warm water and add. Mix in flour. Spoon 1/3 of dough into well-buttered bread pan. Place orange sections in 2 rows of 3 sections each, parallel to length of pan. Spread rest of dough over the oranges and smooth. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until dough reaches top of pan (about 1 hour).

Pat water on surface of loaf and lightly press on reserved almond halves. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 to 30 minutes, or until richly browned. Remove to a wire rack. Mix glaze ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes. Brush on warm loaf. Makes 1 loaf.

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