I have been AWOL from this blog for so long that those of you that get my posts by e-mail may have wondered if there was something wrong with your feed.
As with most of you, I got caught up in that crazy end of the school year thing with concerts, awards ceremonies, and celebrations. And there was also the overlap of spring and summer sports that had us running to at least one game or practice almost every evening.
Mostly, though, all of the spare time that I used to spend writing here has been eaten up by the time I have spent trying to get our county school system to reverse its decision to change the schedule at our middle school. Although a schedule change may not seem like a big deal, that change was part of a plan that turned the school around a few years ago, and it has huge implications on students' ability to succeed, particularly students who need extra help or whose only opportunity to take a music or art elective is at school.
I have gotten a glimpse into the workings of our local system with its administrative and political pressures and it is not always pretty. Trying to effect change -- even with a large group of committed parents and community activists -- has given me some insight into what David was up against when he faced Goliath.
I can go on and on about that, but the real focus here is food. Once again, I am in search for the perfect snack. We were at a swim meet a couple of weeks ago, and the kids had veggie burgers before they swam. I watched them chow down on those burgers and thought that there was no way I would have been able to exercise after washing one of those down.
The next week, I wanted to give them something lighter, something that would give them a bit of energy and not weigh them down. I remembered this recipe that had popped up in an e-mail from Food52. I had never made granola bars before, but this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give them a try.
I adapted the recipe to suit my audience. One child doesn't like peanut butter, one doesn't like raisins. And they all love chocolate. So I went with dried cherries and dark chocolate as the primary flavors.
The kids all tried them at last Wednesday's swim meet. Oscar was the most enthusiastic, probably because anything with chocolate will win him over. Olivia revealed that she doesn't like pumpkin seeds, but she is still eating the granola bars. Chloe announced that she doesn't like them at all, although she didn't identify any particular ingredient that was objectionable. Regardless of the critiques, all three kids dropped times in their swim races.
I will continue to play with the flavors to see if I can win all three kids over, but for now I am loving having these little treats in the refrigerator for a quick breakfast or snack. And they will be in the swim bag again tonight.
Cherry Dark Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
Adapted from Gena Hamshaw's recipe on Food52
Makes 12-15 bars
15 minutes preparation time, plus 2 hours for chilling
If you want to experiment with different flavor combinations, you might want to make a smaller batch. I recommend making half a batch and using a 8-by-8 square pan for your practice runs.
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2/3 cup sunflower butter
1/2 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
Line a 9-by-13 pan with plastic wrap.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, pumpkin seeds, dried cherries, and chocolate chips.
In a large measuring cup, mix together the sunflower butter, honey, and salt. Pour the sunflower butter mixture over the oat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until the oats are thoroughly coated.
Empty the mixture into the baking pan and flatten it out with a spatula until it is even. Cover with another layer of plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Just before serving, cut into individual bars. I liked cutting them into fairly small servings, 2 or 3 inches per side. Wrap individual granola bars in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. They will keep for up to 2 weeks, if they last that long.