My friend Kari the travel writer came over with her kids, Grace and Sam, not too long ago.
These kids are full of energy. I mean, taking every toy vehicle available, from the Skuut to the Plasma Car to the old tricycle down the steepest driveway in the neighborhood and going as fast as they can to upending every toy bin in my son's playroom kind of energy. Never. A. Dull. Moment.
They're all about living fully, joyfully. And I love it. My son, Kingston, is a very cautious kind of child, so I think it's great for him to have time with them. We all need some balance, even the three-year-olds among us.
On the late afternoon that they came over, the plan was to wander together to the pond about half a mile away, fling some old bread at the mallards and wood ducks then come back for a dinner of lentil soup, which I had already prepared.
Pretty simple, right?
Right. If you don't count Sam losing his boot in the pond when, in a fit of enthusiastic jumping and kicking, the blue rubber shoe flew off toward the water, landing with a loud splash, the ducks flapping and quacking in hysteria. (And they thought they we only getting bread!) Then, Kari in her own fit of motherly resourcefulness grabbing Grace's "leader stick," a tree branch she had collected somewhere along the way, to snag the boot and pull it back to shore.
Sam didn't have socks on to start with, so our solution was to take a clean doggy poop bag (oh yeah, good thing the dog was with us), which served as a makeshift sock once it was shoved into the sodden boot. Whew.
We squished along for a bit after that until we all realized that we were hungry! As I searched the pockets of my no-longer-waterproof raincoat, nothing came up. Nope, just a couple of dirty tissues (gross) and an old Cliff bar wrapper, remnants of our last adventure out.
Kari, on the other hand, was well prepared (probably as a result of her years of traveling all over the world). She handed out tidbits of energy bars made of coconut and oats and dried fruit and all sorts of tasty and nutritious things that sustained our little group.
After we got home and the soup was eaten, but before Grace started singing songs from Frozen for us, I decided that I should be better prepared for the next walk.
So, I made these. I wasn't sure if I should call them bars or a cake. You will find, should you make them, that they are either a dense cake or cakey bars. Whatever you call them, they are packed with enough fruit and grains to sustain you during a long walk, hike, or any other activity that floats your boot. (Sorry!)
Honey Graham Snack Bars
Makes 9 bars
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried blueberries
2/3 cup graham flour (or, substitute whole wheat flour)
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces of white chocolate, for drizzling on the finished bars
Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for about 8 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Allow to cool a few minutes, then coarsely chop.
Transfer nuts to a large bowl then add the oats and dried fruit. Add the flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the oats mixture.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, whole milk, honey and olive oil. Add egg mixture to the oats mixture and stir until blended. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges are beginning to brown. When an inserted toothpick comes out clean, it's done. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
When cool, use the liner to lift the cooked mixture from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 9 bars. If you like smaller bars, cut them smaller.
If you'd like to gild the lily, melt white chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, then check. If your white chocolate needs additional time, add another 25 seconds. Drizzle the melted white chocolate over your bars for a rustic look and a delicious touch. The white chocolate will re-harden, allowing you to wrap the bars to take with you on your next adventure.
Adapted from Power Hungry.