We all need to get away every once in a while. As a cook, I fantasize— no I crave it. Crisp air, the smell of wild herbs and evergreens, the varied landscape spattered with pastel colored wildflowers—- it’s the stuff day-dreams are made of.
I just got back from a short trip to Grizzly Creek Redwoods, about 5 hours north of SF. This part of the country may be one of my favorites, if only for its lushness and its aura of simple yet unfathomable beauty. It is the home of Wicket; yes, it is Endor.
Given that I have few opportunities to actually indulge in escapism, I put a lot of thought into the trip as well as the food we would eat along the way.
I researched outdoor sourdough bread-baking to excess, and ended up deciding that I should play it cool and shelve that for a future trip. However, I did find some posts of interest which can be found here and here. (I’ll definitely be geeking out with my starter in the forest real soon, don’t you fret)
I decided on the simple, yet reliable and almost always delicious camping staple: the granola bar.
It is infinitely adaptable and immensely satisfying—- they’re also amazing straight out of the freezer. Firm yet chewy, a little bit crumbly but still moist. — I’m a little picky about my bars.
Chewy Oat Bars
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 1/3 rolled oats
3/4 cup turbinado/raw sugar
1/3 cup rye flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups dried fruit and nuts (I used a mix of dried raisins, pistachios, pecans, almonds, and pepitas)
1/3 cup peanut butter (or almond butter)
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup raw honey (I used a raw buckwheat honey which is a little less sweet)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
optional: 2 tablespoons poppy seeds, citrus zest
Preheat oven to 350 F and generously butter a roughly 8″ x 8″ pan.
Stir together all dry ingredients, including fruit and nuts. In a small saucepan heat butter with honey until melted. Whisk warm butter and honey in a separate bowl with peanut butter, vanilla extract, and one egg. Mix in dry ingredients until incorporated.
Press mixture into greased pan and bake for 30- 40 minutes, until golden.
Cool and cut into bars. Carefully lay bars on a parchment or silpat-lined cookie sheet and return to oven for another 10 minutes. Cool and enjoy.
Bars can be stored in a sealed bag or container or eaten straight out of the freezer or camping cooler (my fave).