Thursday, October 24, 2013

Build your own granola bars...

  I need to make a batch of granola bars.  And coincidentally, my pal texted me today, asking if I had a recipe. I do, and they're awesome. This is a copy and paste from my other don't be confused by it.  lol  The italicized parts are copied...just so you know.  

  I started making granola back in the early 70's. I have always made it over the years, and the recipe is rarely the same twice.  That's because I tend to make it with whatever I happen to have in the pantry.  My pantry is pretty well stocked most of the time...with things that I grow and can or dehydrate and with some things that I am forced to buy.  When my husband started wanting granola bars for his lunch, and I started reading the ingredients and seeing what the cost was, I thought, "Hey!--I could do this better!"  I tried several different recipes and settled on the one that I liked the best.

  So, here's the ingredient list. Sort of. The honey mixture is the important recipe to follow, as it has to hold the whole shebang together. 

           2 cups oats
           3/4 cup sunflower seeds
           1 cup crushed peanuts
           1/2 cup brown sugar (or barley malt syrup)
           1/2 cup honey
           4 tbsp. butter or coconut oil
           2 tsp. vanilla
           1/2 tsp. salt
           1 cup + dried fruit --your choice
           1/2 almonds or walnuts,chopped or whole

  Heat your oven to 400 degrees. These granola bars are not cooked, but you do want to toast the oats, to get rid of that raw taste.  Put 2 cups of old fashioned rolled oats on a baking sheet and toast for 10-15 minutes, stirring often.

  In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, honey, butter,vanilla and salt. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. While it's coming to a simmer, take a 9x13 baking pan and line it with parchment paper (or waxed paper that you've sprayed with nonstick spray). Tear your paper long enough that it will lap over the middle of the pan from the ends after you've poured your mix in it (about a foot and a half long). 

  You want to simmer that honey mixture a while, so that when it cools, it will make a crispy granola bar., maybe 15-20 minutes. 

  Take your toasted oats, and mix in all the nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. Mix it up good.  Then pour the hot honey mixture all over it. Use a big  spatula to mix it up real good. You want everything well covered. Then dump it into your paper lined 9x13 pan and use the spatula to spread it out evenly in the pan. Push it into the corners too. Then fold those side pieces of paper over the top of the mixture and press down firmly. You want to compact this mixture as much as you can. Keep pressing until you're sure it's pretty solid.

  Then set it aside and let it cool. Once it's good and cool, you want to lift it out by the paper and set it on a cutting board.

 Then  (or, first, actually) I made 2 batches of granola bars, one for my son and one for here.  They are really good too, and chock full of 3 kinds of fruit that I dried (apples, blueberries and cranberries) plus raisins, walnuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, raw sunflower seeds, coconut,  flax seeds,and oatmeal and honey, barley malt syrup and butter.  Thinking I might try using coconut oil next time. They look like this:

 And then get cut into this:

  And wrapped.  Each batch makes 16-18 bars.  I roughly figured it out that it costs about 3 dollars to make a batch. And that's a very rough estimate, since I'm always buying things on sale and stashing them in my pantry and never know from one time to the next what I might have

  I cut the thing in half lengthwise first, then I cut it into 9 rectangles.  This picture looks a little dark, but that's the lighting, not the bars. They are a beautiful golden color.  I wrap them in (GUILTY!) small squares of saran wrap, put them in a container with a lid and store them in the fridge.  I know exactly what's in them, no hidden ingredients and no excesses of processed sugar. I bought barley malt syrup once when I was making homemade bagels, and I really like to use that in these bars instead of brown sugar. My husband loves them, and so do I !  They're a great healthy snack.

   Give them a try and let me know.  I often add cinnamon to the oats and nuts mixture too...sometimes I put my roasted pumpkin seeds in there.  Sometimes raw sunflower seeds, sometimes roasted. Sometimes chia seeds or flax seeds.  Experiment--have a ball !!!

Bon Apetit !

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The weather is changing, thank God for soup !

  The past few days have been chilly to cold here, depending on the time of day.  Today there was the added bonus of rain and wind. times, it was like a monsoon out there.  It may have actually hit 50, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.  lol  Tonight we have a frost warning until 8 AM, so the covers are back on the cold frame, where my little plot of lettuces, kale, chard and spinach are looking good.  The furnace is turned on, and even though it's set at 68 it's comfortable enough I guess.  Time to get the big flannel blankets out for the couch.

  This soup I made today is an approximation (aren't they all?) of a recipe that I saw somewhere, or maybe a friend sent it to me on Facebook, or--who knows?  I remember being taken with the original recipe, because all the ingredients are things that I have grown., and that I love.  And you get to roast veggies for it. And it is vegan, which is just a good thing to do now and then.  And it's very tasty while also being really nutritious. Are you interested yet?

 It is very beautiful, isn't it ?  It 's a Roasted Cauliflower and  Sweet Potato soup. In fact, it's a roasted almost everything soup. It started out like this:

 I washed and drained a head of cauliflower and then broke  it into florets.  I diced several sweet potatoes from the box that  had cuts from the spade or broken ends that all need using first.I thick sliced a large onion and peeled 7 cloves of garlic. After arranging these all on 2 small baking sheets, I drizzled them with EVOO and then sprinkled Garam Masala on the. Popped them into a 400 degree oven to roast for about 30 minutes.  The house smelled divine...

 Then (for good measure)  I peeled 3 more sweet potatoes and boiled them in about 2-3 cups spring water. When they were soft, and the roasted vegetables were done, the fun started.  I pureed the boiled sweet potatoes and the water in my blender. I poured most of that into the saucepan the 'taters came out of. I left some in the blender and  put all of the roasted garlic, and about half of the onions and cauliflower and sweet potatoes in  with it. Then I pureed all that together.  Just for fun (and extra B vitamins!) I added about 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Whirred it a little more, to mix it in. Poured that and all the rest of the roasted chunky vegetables into the saucepan, stirred well and brought it back to a simmer.  Added salt and pepper, tasted. Added more salt, tasted. Hmmm...still needed something, but what ? 

I scoured the spice cabinet and finally found the gomasio I made last month. I went to the back porch and snipped some fresh parsley.  Put them both on top and VOILA !

Isn't that color glorious ?  And it tasted pretty darn good too.

(And that reminds me--we have a frost warning tonight--I better go cover those herb pots on the back deck !!)

Bon Apetit !!