Sunday, May 16, 2010

Finally, Granola Bars I Can Sink My Teeth Into!

Today I decided to make some granola bars. I've looked at recipes for some time now, but never managed to actually bake any of them.

I tried to make them once before and the result was inedible little bricks of gooey, sticky bleck!

Then I saw an episode of the Barefoot Contessa last week and she was making granola bars.

"I guess it's time to give it another go," I said to myself and to Ina, who didn't appear to be listening.

I rooted through the pantry and gathered all the ingredients -- all things I had on hand. And there they sat for a few more days.

I'm not sure what that's about.

Commercially prepared granola bars do nothing for me. But I do like oatmeal, and nuts, and dried fruit, and now that I've finally developed a taste for honey, I keep thinking there must be a great tasting homemade granola bar that would work for a quick breakfast or snack on the go.

Something softer than a brick, and less tacky than flypaper. Something I could actually chew!

Simple ingredients, with no unnecessary preservatives and fillers.

As I set out with the BC recipe, I thought about how my friend Debbie/Deb/Debra shudders in disbelief every time she reads that I am making a BC recipe. I believe she characterizes them as facile -- lacking depth of flavor or nuance.

And something about Ina's laugh seems to irritate her.

Really? I like Ina!

Her recipes call for ingredients that are straight-forward and readily available -- even here in my little hamlet. The preparation requires a very manageable investment in time. It is cooking for cooks, not chefs, but the results are reliable and pleasing.

I like that too!

OK, there might be just a little more to my personal affection for Ina.

I suspect if I colored my chin-length-bob-with-bangs-swept-to-the-side, and put on one of my "signature" outfits -- black pants, knit top and tailored cotton big-shirt -- you probably couldn't tell us apart.

At least, not until we laughed. Where Ina's laugh is polite and restrained -- very TV-like, mine is jolly and tending toward boisterous. Not one ounce of restraint when I laugh!

I may not live in the Hamptons, or have a band of tall, good-looking, merry men at my beck and call, but . . .

I, too, have a pretty nice place to call home, a large group of talented and lovable family and friends who are willing to gather 'round my table at a moment's notice. They bring flowers, and honey from their own hives, and homemade breads, and pies, and homegrown asparagus and tomatoes, and thoughtful little treasures for my kitchen, garden and home.

And I love to cook for them too.

So Ina's shtick works for me, and so do her recipes.

No apologies.

You can find Ina's recipe for Homemade Granola Bars on the Food Network website, if you don't have access to a copy of her Back To Basics cookbook. I won't print it here because of that copyright stuff, but I will show you the tempting photo essay below.

 All the ingredients, except the butter, which was still in the fridge.
This is where you insert the picture I forgot to take 
of oatmeal, almonds and coconut ready to toast
to a golden brown.

Aha, there's that butter, ready bubble up with the 
honey and brown sugar.

Oh! And here's the toasted oatmeal, coconut and almonds afterall, 
topped by some wheat germ!

See how the golden glow of artificial kitchen lights 
washes over the apricots, dates and craisins.

Mixing the oatmeal stuff with the honey stuff 
and the dried fruit stuff.

Dumping the sticky, gooey stuff into a buttered 
and parchment-lined baking dish.

Press the sticky, gooey stuff into the parchment-lined baking dish -- 
wet your hands first, so they don't get stuck!

Baked to a golden brown (at 300 degrees), turned out and 
cooled for a few hours, so the sticky, gooey stuff sets up.

All cut up -- using the half, half, half, half, half, half, half . . .  
and one more half method -- and presto, sixteen nice even pieces.

 And finally -- the artsy shot of a homemade granola bar!
Mmmmmm . . . 

And now, the results . . .

. . . taste is good . . .  

. . . method is good . . .

. . . texture is chewy good . . .

. . . could be just what I'm looking for . . .

. . . with a tiny bit of tweaking, or personalization, if you will . . . 

. . . a little more salt, a good bit more vanilla, a little more coconut, some nuts with bigger flavor -- perhaps roughly chopped pieces of whole toasted almonds, pecans, walnuts or cashews even -- and maybe just one or two fruits, instead of three -- just apricots and cherries maybe?

I'm not even ruling out a few chocolate chips!

Just a thought.

I will definitely make them again. Fast, easy, tasty, chewy -- a very nice homemade granola bar
Great for breakfast, a snack, or munching out of the trails.

Yikes! What am I saying?

Me hiking?

Now that's funny! Worthy of a big, loud, jolly laugh!

You're laughing with me -- right?

BTW - I calculated the calories for the entire recipe -- it's just something I do when I'm keeping track of my healthy eating -- and following the recipe to the letter, cutting them into sixteen bars, the total calorie count per bar is 255.


nckitkat said...

your laugh is also infectious!!
I have never liked granola bars, but those look pretty good...
how much cooking will we have in August?

Cora said...

Infectious - I can live with that.

If you are not a granola bar fan, even these will not change your mind. It's a lot of chewing, and not quite as satisfying as, say, a Snickers :-D

Is August too hot for brick oven pizzas by the pool? I guess we'll see...

Kalyn Denny said...

They sound good!

CottageGirl said...

Those look great! Lovely job with the cooking and the photography!
I love Ina. I have all her cookbooks but one ... even got an autographed one a Christmas or two ago.
I should make these and see how the grands like them! Thanks for the idea!