I’ve started at least 5 posts this weekend without completing a single one. At first, I thought I’d apologize for not having much to say, but I came across this passage while reading My Life in France:
I don’t believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanations over the food you make. When one’s hostess starts in with self-deprecations such as, “Oh, I don’t know how to cook…” or “Poor little me…” or “This may taste awful…” it is so dreadful to have to reassure her that everything is delicious and fine, whether it is or not. Besides such admissions only draw attention to one’s shortcomings (or self-perceived shortcomings), and make the other person think, “Yes, you’re right, this really is an awful meal!”…Usually one’s cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile…then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile – and learn from her mistakes.”
How true is this? How many times have we made excuses for our cooking or heard others make excuses? Isn’t it completely awkward for both parties? I’ve done this so many times – usually I say, “Oh, and the crust is whole wheat, in case you notice it tastes more ‘wheaty’ than you’re accustomed to.” Why do I do this? I’m actually a very confident cook, but when I serve my food to people who I know mainly eat processed foods, I feel like I need to give an explanation. I’ve also been on the receiving end where a friend apologizes for her food (honestly, if someone makes me mac and cheese from a box I’m happy because I didn’t have to make it myself….not that I advocate eating from a box).
I completely agree with Julia Child and think we could all use a little kick in the pants and a reminder that if we’re in the kitchen at all, cooking for just ourselves, a group of friends, or our family, that alone is cause for celebration and something to be proud of!
So in keeping with the spirit of “no excuses,” I’m excited to share a granola bar recipe I whipped up this weekend. My offering: toasted oats, crisp almonds, sweet shredded coconut, and dried fruit drizzled with whole cane sugar and maple syrup then baked until crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. It’s a snack you can take with you just about anywhere. I know you’ll love it!
- 2 cups rolled oats (make sure they are gluten free oats)
- 1 cup chopped almonds
- 1 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup organic whole cane sugar or sucanat (to read more click here )
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped (unsulphured preferred)
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Butter an 11 x 7 baking dish and line it with parchment paper.
- Put the oatmeal, almonds and coconut on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Pour oatmeal mixture into a large bowl and add the cranberries and apricots. Put the butter, honey, whole cane sugar, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Stir together until sugar has dissolved and then pour over the oatmeal mixture. Stir until syrup coats mixture. Pour into the baking dish and press the mixture with the back of a spoon evenly in the pan. Bake for 25 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for 2-3 hours before cutting into squares.
- The night before pour almonds in a large bowl and cover with water. Add 1 tablespoon sea salt and stir. Pour oats into another large bowl and cover with water. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and stir. Leave both bowls at room temperature overnight.
- The next day, preheat oven to 170 degrees. Strain almonds and oats (oats will be a very wet so press gently in the colander to release as much moisture as possible). Spread almonds on sheet pan and the oats on an separate sheet pan. Bake in oven for 12 hours, or until crispy.
- Pour oats into a large mixing bowl and crumble with your hands if they are clumped together. Add almonds, apricots, and cranberries. Pour coconut into a large skillet and toast until golden over low heat. Add to almond mixture.
- Place the butter, honey, whole cane sugar, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Stir together until sugar has dissolved and then pour over the oatmeal mixture. Stir until syrup coats mixture. Pour into the baking dish and press the mixture with the back of a spoon evenly in the pan. Bake in oven for 4-5 hours, until golden brown. Cool completely before cutting.