Better breakfast bars

This blog is basically defunct, so I’ll just admit that I’m only posting this to make the recipe easier for me to find. (I got it from a Talk thread on Serious Eats, and it is annoying to keep going back to it.)

These are breakfast bars. They are good. Actually, I had a horrible cold all last week and couldn’t taste them, but I think they’re good. (The first iteration, which I made two weeks ago, had Craisins and smaller chocolate chips and was definitely good, so I assume this one, which has apricots and large chocolate chips, is also good.)

I have some awesome tips for you.

First, mix your dry ingredients—whole wheat flour, ground flax seeds (I’m not sure this serves a purpose other than health; I’ll let you know when I run out of flax seeds and have to start experimenting), oats, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Then, put an open container of honey next to the dry ingredient bowl. Scatter some dried apricots on a cutting board.

This is what we in the business call a bad photo.

Chop the apricots into small pieces. (I think I chopped each apricot into six pieces or so.) Apricots are sticky and this is rather difficult.

Add your chocolate chips, dried fruit, and nuts (I love hazelnuts; use whatever you like) to the dry ingredients.

In a smaller bowl, add about 3/4 c applesauce. (I’m still experimenting with this; but since I use only w.w. flour instead of some w.w. and some white, the dough is much drier and more applesauce is needed. I tried adding some milk last week, but I’m not sure that was a good idea. Still, there is no clear evidence ether way.)

Add 3 tbsp canola oil.

WITH THE SAME TABLESPOON, add 2 tbsp honey. This way the honey will just slide out of the tablespoon; you won’t have any getting-honey-out-of-the-tablespoon crises. It’s awesome.

Mix together, then add to the dry ingredients. It’ll be kind of impossible to stir. I’m going to use my hands the next time I do this.

If baking bars, put in a 9×9 cake pan and bake for about 20 minutes.

If making cookies (probably the superior option), form cookies, put on a sheet pan, and bake for 12-ish minutes.

Breakfast bars
Adapted from Sourdough, a Serious Eats user 

3/4 c whole wheat flour (or 1/2 c whole wheat and 1/4 c white)
1 1/2 c rolled oats
3/4 c ground flax (this is expensive, so you should find a replacement)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 c combination of dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate chips (I just make things easier and do 1/2 c each)
1/2 – 3/4 c unsweetened applesauce
3 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp honey

Mix dry ingredients together, including the add-ins. Mix wet ingredients together in a separate bowl, then combine.

Bake at 350°, either in a cake pan for 20 minutes or as cookies for 12 minutes.

If you intend to keep them around for more than a few days, put them in the fridge.

Jollof rice (well, not really, but kind of)

I am continuing my West African kick with jollof rice, the national dish of a variety of West African countries. I don’t feel qualified to say much else about it; I have no idea if my version was authentic (and if it was originally, it wasn’t after I messed with it); etc. etc. But it is yummy and only gets better as time goes on. I wasn’t thrilled with it on Sunday, but by Tuesday it was really good, all melded together, flavor synthesis, blah blah. I am also so impressed by how the chicken came out that I’m willing to overlook all the other deficiencies, such as excessive tomato flavor such that all the other flavors are sort of lost and… well that pretty much sums it up. I browned, braised, and microwaved the chicken at various points over the last few days, and it’s still moist and yummy and tender and non-dry. And it tastes good. I think this is a function of using thighs and not cutting all the fat off? Or it’s because I used relatively happy chickens? (Let’s just say their lives probably had their ups and downs, but things could have been worse.)

Anyway. I messed up most of this recipe and barely took pictures because I was Skyping the whole time, and it was very stressful going back and forth from the chickeny cutting board to the computer to the recipe etc., and I spent a lot of time staring at the recipe while my sisters wondered what I was doing because it just looked like I was staring at them close-up and creepily. But I wasn’t. (Oh, and there was this one moment where I was getting an incoming Skype call and I got extremely stressed and clicked “accept,” but then I realized I hadn’t washed my hands after cutting some chicken, so I proceeded to spray my computer, mouse, and basically everything nearby with all-purpose kitchen cleaner. Ew. Ugh.)

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Ghanaian stew, kind of

I spent an extremely long time the other day looking for a black-eyed peas recipe that wasn’t lobia or hoppin’ john. I was first led to Red-Red by a Whole Foods post, and then finally I found what seemed like a more legit recipe. (I love that The Spice Island stresses how salty this should be. They know what’s up.) Red-Red is a Ghanaian stew—red for the red palm oil (which I substituted because I couldn’t find any, but then I remembered I could have just gone to one of the West African markets in Harlem and found some, probably) and red for the tomatoes. That’s all I can tell you about it, though; I could not possibly know less about Ghanaian food. Or Ghana, actually. Though I do know multiple people who have lived there.

This recipe has tons of onions, tons of tomatoes (real ones! not canned!), and tons of hot peppers. I used jalapeños rather than habaneros, both because habaneros scare me and because I couldn’t find any. (Well, I found something that looked exactly like habaneros, but it had a different name, and I didn’t want to accidentally feed myself something on the same heat spectrum as Scotch bonnets.) I am now glad about this because my hands are still burning from the jalapeños, and I chopped them more than twelve hours ago. I think I have skin problems. Or maybe I burned myself on, like, a pot or something.

OK, I forgot to mention the black-eyed peas business. I knew I had to soak them for three or four hours, if not overnight, so I put them in to soak and went about my day. Then I drained them, rinsed them, and added more water and put them on the stove. I looked at my previous blog post to see how long they should cook, but it was very unhelpful. I can now sympathize with all of you. (I ended up cooking them for about 50 minutes. When they were done, the liquid was all black. I was freaked out; I assume that if this had happened to me before, I would have recorded it. It almost seemed like they were white beans that someone had drawn a black eye on and the ink had all washed off. But … I mean … that probably didn’t happen?)

After they were done—the timing was a bit off because I was doing all this during/after dinner—I chopped my enormous quantities of onions, then tomatoes. Ugh, and jalapeños.

Beautiful lovely tomatoes, and evil jalapeños. (From my parents’ garden and a farmers’ market.)

Then I put a bunch of dried shrimp (I was aiming to end up with 2 tsp, but I didn’t really measure) into my food processor and ground them (it has a spice-grinding setting; it doesn’t work very well on actual spices). They became a sort of shrimp powder, though in slightly larger bits than I wanted.

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Dorothy Sayers sandwiches

I have been reading Dorothy Sayers novels all week. I’ve now run out of all the ones I had at my disposal and have to wait until Tuesday [I wrote this on Sunday; I have since gotten another book] to stock up. I feel bereft. All I can think about is when Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane will finally get married. (IF YOU KNOW, DON’T TELL ME!!!!!) It’s like Jane Austen, only with murder. It’s awesome. (Basically it’s posh British people solving murders and being charming and riding horses and driving cars with their gentlemen manservants in the 1920s and 1930s. They say “what ho” sometimes, and things of that nature. It is wonderful. I may devote my life to reading detective novels.)

Anyway, I’m really distracted because of my need to read more Dorothy Sayers. It kind of reminds me of those horrible two weeks after you finish the latest Harry Potter and you know you have to wait two or three years for the next one and you can’t think about anything except Sirius Black and stuff.

I’m making roast beef sandwiches for dinner. That’s not related to Dorothy Sayers, but you can’t really make a post out of roast beef sandwiches (well, that’s not true; I read a number of them, but I don’t have much to add). (You also can’t make a post on a food blog about Dorothy Sayers.)

I almost bought an actual horseradish at the grocery store because I couldn’t find the jarred stuff, but then I found the jarred stuff, in the sketchy aisle in the back with the chicharrones (at least that’s what I thought they were, but there are giant sheets of it so now I’m not sure), hot dogs, and bacon. I do not understand the function of that aisle. It opens into this back area of the supermarket, and things happen back there, but I don’t know what. Sometimes a man watches you while you investigate the hot dog situation. (They don’t have Hebrew National.) It’s uncomfortable. But they had horseradish.

The stuff upon which cities are built and crumble

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Cookie oatmeal granola bar things

I have created a delightful-smelling but confusing kitchen object. It is like an oatmeal cookie, but for breakfast, and in bar form. They’re sort of like baked oatmeal + cookie + better. (That’s a lie. Cookies are better. These are more breakfasty, though.)

I needed a portable breakfast thing for the foreseeable future, so I did extensive research on granola bars and such and settled on the one that looked the most like a cookie and included chocolate chips. (But she says that it is not very sweet and is suitable for breakfast, and I like her blog title—Big Girls, Small Kitchen—so all in all it seemed like the correct choice.)

The hardest thing about making this was preheating the oven. I REALLY did not want to preheat the oven. I waited until I had basically finished assembling them, and then decided I couldn’t put it off any longer. (And I even turned the air conditioner on to offset the oven, so now global warming is my fault and I feel bad. Sorry, world.) But anyway, what I actually meant was that these are extremely easy—you just put things in a bowl and stir them. I guess the other hard part was opening my jar of peanut butter, and then getting the peanut butter out; it had been all the way in the back of the fridge and had sort of frozen, or at least really intensively solidified.

This is all out of order now. First I assembled the dry ingredients: oats (regular, not instant; maybe this is an unnecessary caveat for everyone but me, who prefers breakfast in 2.5 minutes rather than 6 minutes); whole-wheat flour (store in the fridge or freezer to avoid rancidness); salt; baking powder.

Then I whisked together the wet ingredients—the peanut butter (which did not want to be whisked, but I made it be whisked), sugar (I had to make my brown sugar first, which was annoying), oil (I used peanut because it seemed like it would be less weird than olive). Then I added the egg and then the milk.

OMG it just took me eighty billion years to put this photo into this post and now I don’t feel like captioning it. Damn you WordPress.

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