Here come the granola bars, a must-have snack in the mountains year-round. These bars, which are a mix of oats, honey, sugar, dried fruit, and nuts molded into a bar are convenient, and taste crazy good, especially if they’re made at home!
These chewy and sometimes crunchy bars go back to the sixties, a time of adventurous on-the-road, financially challenged hippies, often vegetarians. But the ready-made energy bars are still available in grocery stores, health food stores, and online. And you can always whip up a batch so they’re freshly baked and custom-tailored with your favorite ingredients.
Our summers at Lake Tahoe are known to have unforgettable thunderstorms. One dark, warm afternoon the quietude, lightning, thunder (repeat), rain, and hail followed. Inside the cabin I knew what was next. A power outage hit. For hours without a computer, TV, music, or stove (mine is electric) I tried to go with the flow. After hours I opened up the pantry and was greeted by a brand name box of granola bars. They were doable as I was going into camping mode with the dogs and cat, but, but, but—the packaged bars lacked flavor and were hard. I vowed to get creative and make my own bars (when the lights came back on). And I did. This time around, though, I switched up my go-to recipe for a bit of novelty.
ENERGIZING GRANOLA BArs
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup walnuts, rough chop
½ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons European style butter
¾ cup honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup each dried cranberries, apricots, crystalized ginger or golden raisins
1 teaspoon European style butter, melted
In a pan place dry ingredients (oats and nuts). Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Remove. Set aside. In a saucepan, combine sugar, butter, and honey. On medium heat stir and hat until it boils, remove. Add vanilla and cinnamon. Stir. Fold in dried fruit. Butter a square baking dish. Bake in a 300 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in room temperature. When firm, use a spatula underneath the granola mixture and turn out on cutting board. Cut into bars. Makes about 10 to 12. Store in airtight container in refrigerator. *If you like your bars super soft, put in microwave for several seconds. Like 'em chewy? You got it!
Your kitchen will smell heavenly like a cookie store. You’ll love munching on the granola bar with your name on it. Pair it with iced tea or homemade lemonade (lemon juice, water, sugar to taste, and ice). Keep in mind, you can add any ingredients, including seeds, coconut, other dried berries, and even chocolate chips. If you want to get fancy melt white chocolate (a premium bar is best) in the microwave (about 30 seconds, watch and stir) and drizzle on top of the bars. Homemade granola bars are wholesome year-round, but during a summer storm makes them taste like you’re cozy indoors at home with or without electricity.
Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, and Superfoods) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is http://www.calorey.com.