And somehow, magically, and tragically, our month in Montana came to a close.
And then one month in Europe flew by.
And all of a sudden, I’m here in Portland- rather still and yet buzzing – for our much anticipated travels have effectively come to a close. These weeks have held a short lifetime of glorious sunrises, inspiring early mornings, lazy breakfasts, romantic cups of espresso, satisfying hikes, grand adventures, epic bike rides, late afternoon naps, off-camber trail runs, shocking lightning storms, exotic sights, inspirational people, jokes lost and found in translation, and far too many great bottles of wine and fabulous meals to count. While being on the road can be exhausting, it also felt as if each day we were opening another door to the secrets that the future holds for us.
For all the things done, there is an equally long to-do list awaiting us; there are an overwhelming amount of stories to tell and hoards of pictures to sort ( if for no other reason to relive, it all.) Honestly, I have scarcely cooked because I’ve been too busy eating the amazing creations of others and tucking their inspiration into my notebooks to port back to my own kitchen…wherever my own kitchen will be.
Some little bits of life — expectations, perspectives, anticipations — are different, just as we imagined this little adventure would shape them to be. Other bits are still the same; the grand task at hand at the end of all this bopping around is to choose our next “place.” The next place we’ll call home. Also, this trusty granola bar recipe.
This treat has been a go-to in our travels and I’ll keep it with me as a solid staple wherever we land for good; I originally put this one together in Montana (based loosely off of a King Arthur Flour formula) so that we would have a wholesome, chewy and hearty snack on our big bike rides and hikes in the backyard. Joan loves peanut butter, chocolate and coconut, so all of that goodness went inside that batch. On the flight to Europe, I carried a cherry, chocolate + coconut iteration alongside a little kale salad and some other fresh treats. And then, just this past weekend, I pulled it out of hiding so that I could port a batch on the Clif Bar & Company Epiphany Ride — a 132 mile bike adventure that reminds us all to think outside the box on a bicycle. It was so much fun to share a my favorite goji + goldenberry + mulberry + coconut + almond version with my fellow Luna Pro Team ladies, as an accompaniment to all those ClifBars. After a month of hiding out in my journal, I was reminded of just HOW good this chewy granola is to the point that I’m playing with a Breakfast Apple Crumble recipe today that uses the granola (modified) as a topping. (Stay tuned for more on that – promise.)
This recipe has to be one of the most versatile ever — you can mix in literally whatever floats your boat here or follow one of my combos from above. The next time I make them, I’m going to play with some rosemary and almonds, or even tahini to see if we can get a savory vibe going on. I also know that a vegan version is absolutely possible…stay tuned for that too. Let me know if you come up with something rockstar creative!
A couple of other things: You can really play with the sweetness factor by manipulating the amount and type of sugar. I like to use a lesser amount of sugar, and employ maple syrup but, depending on the fruits and nuts you choose, honey could work well. Also, you can make the recipe gluten-free by using gluten-free oats. (BAM!) The role of parchment and the cooling process are also crucial to the success of good, coherent granola bars. These bars will become crumbly if you cut them too soon, or don’t cool them completely. Make sure you don’t “accidentally” leave out the parchment and just grease the pan….you’ll never get these puppies out of their baking pan. Use the parchment as a little sling so that you can literally pull the paper (and the bars) up out of the pan when you’re done cooling. To make sure the bars set up and cut cleanly, I cool the bars a bit on the countertop then pop them in the freeze for a little while for them to firm up. Et voila!
*Golden berries are a beta-carotene, protein rich superfood found typically in the Andes Mountains. Navitas Naturals sells a convenient trail mix made of goji, mulberry, and golden berries that would perfectly to use in this recipe.
- 1 2/3 cup quick oats
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup raw cane sugar (depending on how sweet you want your bars)
- 1/3 cup oat flour (you could also toss 1/3 cup oats in a food processor until they reach a flour-like texture)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 2-3 cups of nuts + dried fruits of your liking (see above note for ideas)
- 1/3 cup nut butter (I like creamy almond butter)
- 1 tsp organic vanilla extract
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp maple syrup (or honey, or the sweetner of your choosing)
- 1 Tbsp water
- Pre-heat your oven to 350F degrees and prepare an 8x8x2 inch square baking pan by greasing and then lining with parchment paper. (Don't forget the parchment - you'll never get your bars out of the pan!)
- Next, in a small/medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, vanilla, nut butter, and maple syrup with the water. Pour these whisked ingredients over the dry oat mix until the oats are completely coated.
- Next, press the entire mixture into the prepared pan, making sure that the mixture is level and even all the way around. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool completely; allow to cool on 20 minutes on the stovetop, then use the parchment as a "sling" to remove the bars from the pan, then place on a wire rack to cool completely. Alternatively, cool on the stovetop for 20 minutes and then place in the freezer IN the pan to speed things up a bit.
- When completely cool, use a serrated knife to cut 16 square bars. Wrap individually in plastic, or stack in a parchment lined container. They also freeze well!