Monday, January 27, 2014

Season of Plenty- Granola Bars

This Winter season has been one of the hardest I have remembered in a long time. Between events and dead lines and orders and kids and so much more my life seemed like it was close to the brink of bursting so many times. I anticipated the holiday week away at my parents where I had established some basic rules that everyone had to follow; 1. Don't ask me to cook, 2. I will only cook when I want to, 3. Stay out of the kitchen and just let me be. I loved rolling out the almond sugar cookies drowning in sprinkles and decorating  the collapsing gingerbread house with all of the kids. Squishing the delicate buttery scones with my hands and savoring their brown butter glaze was just what I needed because I was cooking for me and no one else. Recently, as in yesterday, I finished the most amazing book about trying to find that balance of our life and surroundings we have created and trying to find and make more room for our Maker. It hit me between the eyes because I feel that I have overcrowded my life, my calendar and my family with things that aren't the necessities. As I read through the book images of Haiti and the sights and sounds I experienced couldn't help but run through my mind over and over. In reading about our wastefulness I thought of the streets that were lined with trash and images of children the same age as mine rummaging through it all in the hope to find some morsel of substance to sustain them until they were given something to eat. While reading about things we eat I couldn't help but remember how overjoyed we all were at the sight of things like Coke and rice and how frightened we were at the sight of local goat and chicken. We ate around what we wanted and left behind what we were to afraid too eat, all the while knowing that people outside our walls would never see that much food in their life. We had no second thoughts about being picky and choosy because we have never experienced that pit in our stomachs from not having a meal or knowing where the next meal would come from.
Those thoughts and so many others are the things I want tumble over and over in my mind as I approach this season trying to sort through the overstock and leftovers of life. After reading this book I hope to establish some better practices in my life. Simple things like using Tupperware instead of plastic bags, making use of the recycling bin for recycling instead of extra garbage, growing a few herbs and veggies, throwing away less and buying only what is needed. I know I will not get this right but if I can just be mindful of things and teach my children a few best practices I will feel better knowing that I am not shoving them through life with blinders on.
This recipe has nothing to do with the book other than I felt like making something earthy and satisfying. Normally I buy granola bars on sale individually wrapped and ready to drop in a lunch box or purse but something felt really good about making a big pan of these, slicing them and savoring each bite. Plus, it was fun to have a sidekick stirring, asking questions and steeling chocolate chips when I wasn't looking...
I highly recommend Seven by Jen Hatmaker. I loved every second of it! Between our love of Texas, good food and our amazing creator I think we could be best friends

Seven Granola Bars

3/4 C. Creamy Peanut Butter (don't go all natural on this, you need the fat to hold them together)
1/2 C. Brown Sugar
1/3 C. Honey- warmed slightly (easier to work with)
1 Egg
3 Cups Oats
1/2 C. Flax Seed
2 Tsp Vanilla
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 C. Mini semi or dark chocolate chips (I used the normal size Ghiradelli and they were amazing!)
*You can add up to 1/2 cup of mix ins like Craisins, raisins, coconut, nuts, etc but I am a purist.

Combine all of the above ingredients together. Lightly spray a 9x13 baking pan and line it with parchment paper. Lightly spray the parchment paper then dump your granola bars mix and evenly spread them out. Bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes until slightly browned. Allow them to cool for about 5 minutes then lift them out using the parchment paper. Lightly score the bars with a knife then allow them to cool completely. I sliced the pan down the middle lengthwise then 8 times on the shorter side to get 16 bars. They are a mix between granola bars and oatmeal cookies.

Welcome back Ya'll and Happy New Years!

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