Flutters and pokes

Since we last spoke, I've had my nose broken and smooshed back together again, spent a few days alone by a lake fattening up my manuscript, baked a mediocre chocolate cake (three times, just to be sure), read this book, and this one, and learned that the flutters and pokes rocking my belly as I type this are girl flutters and pokes. Mia thinks we should name her “Pizza.”

Pizza Schleifer. It has a nice ring.

So that’s what’s new on my end. That, and many thousands of words and a growing pile of recipes for the book. THE BOOK. A.k.a., the reason I’ve been scarce around here. There’s more to say about that – the book, not the scarceness – but the new year is almost upon us, and there’s still champagne and panforte to acquire. I don’t want to keep you.

I do, however, want to pass along a recipe, something for the next week or so when the merriment dies down and we go back to eating like the normal, monogastric bipeds we are. We’ll need something sweet and snack-ish while the cookies beat their retreat. Granola bars, say. These.

I wasn’t planning on sharing, since Molly posted about them only a year and a half ago, but they've become such a staple around here in the six weeks since I first made them that I feel compelled to deposit them in The Permanent Collection. Plus, I've played fast and loose enough with the ingredients to make an easy recipe even easier. That’s always something to write home about.

Off we go, then, into these final hours and the brand new ones that follow. Wishing you and yours the very best. See you in 2014.

(Vegan, if you want) Cherry Pecan Chocolate Granola Bars
Adapted from Orangette

This recipe produces a chewy bar, sweet enough that I’ve served them to lunch guests as dessert (and no one complained; in fact, they asked to take some home) and un-sweet enough that the words “nutritious breakfast” can reasonably apply. Aside from dialing back the sugar a bit, I’ve made one important change in the way that I deal with the oats. Instead of using a combination of finely ground oats and quick-cooking oats, I use quick-cooking oats and whole rolled oats. It saves me the step of hauling out the food processor and grinding the oats, and I prefer the heartier texture.

These bars are delicious with butter, but for vegan friends I’ve made them several times with coconut oil and they’re terrific that way, too. Feel free to swap it in.

1½ cups (143 grams) quick-cooking oats
½ cup (48 grams) rolled oats
¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1 cup (110 grams) pecan halves
½ cup (25 grams) unsweetened coconut chips
½ cup (85 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips
¼ cup (40 grams) dried cherries
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (85 grams) peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted
6 tablespoons (120 grams) honey
1 tablespoon water

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper. You’ll want to cut the paper long enough to have some overhang on two of the sides. Lightly grease the paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, sugar, pecans, coconut, chocolate chips, cherries, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, vanilla extract, melted butter or coconut oil, honey, and water. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir well. Transfer to the prepared pan, cover loosely with a sheet of plastic wrap (to prevent the mixture from sticking to your fingers), and press firmly into the pan. Remove the plastic wrap and discard.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t worry that the mixture feels soft; it will harden as it cools. Set the pan on a rack and let cool for 15 minutes, then run a sharp knife along the edges of the pan. Cool completely, still in the pan, then cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Lift onto a cutting board, and cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Store in an airtight container between sheets of wax paper.


Anonymous said...

so what will your masterpiece of a book be called?

oh, yeah....congratulations!
I must say I am jealous
I always thought it would be so romantic and beautifully lonely to go to a cabin and write....what a luxury
lucky hard working you

Jess said...

Anonymous - I'll be sure to share the title here as soon as I know what it is! From what I understand, my publisher will have a fairly strong say in the matter. Yes, it was indeed a luxury to shack up alone with my manuscript for a few days. Helped me recover some ground I'd lost to the early, not-so-pleasant months of pregnancy.

Anonymous said...

So glad to see a new post! Do you think the recipe will hold together without the coconut? It's the only item I don't have in the house on this very snowy day.

alanachernila said...

Girl flutters!
It's all I know, of course, but I can attest to the awesomeness of 2 girls :). And what a great big sister in the making you have there. I think Pizza is a perfect choice. It's a little unusual, but easy to spell, which makes it ideal.
Happy new year, Jess! Sending lots of love to you.

Jess said...

Alana - You can tell me exactly what to do so that my girls turn out as great as yours, right? Can't wait for a big ol' girl fest in the Berkshires. (We'll send E and J to get their craft on, yes?) xo!

Anonymous - Hello! Yes, I think you'll be fine without the coconut. Though you should know, a couple of avowed coconut haters I know loved these even with the offending ingredient.

Sini │ my blue and white kitchen said...

Happy 2014! I'm sure it's gonna be a year full of unforgettable moments for you. Pizza Schleifer - it indeed has a nice ring to it. Children always have the best name suggestions, right?

Lisa said...

I've kept meaning to comment to say: my little guy feels very earnestly and strongly that we should name this new little one coming along in a month or so CatDog. He's most serious.

Can't wait to try these!

molly said...

oh, the nose?! the nose!! belated condolences!

girl flutters are wonderful little things -- so much daintier, i must confess, despite my virulent refusal to buy my own little girl anything like a doll until age three -- than boy flutters, which were more lick rock 'em sock 'em punches.

i like pizza. has a nice ring.


Hana said...

Congratulations! Two girls are magical! My daughter wanted to name our baby Hello Kitty.

Look forward to trying the granola bar/snack/breakfast recipe. Happy writing.

Agata said...

Jess, congratulations to you and E! I am very happy for you. And craving for these granola bars of yours! ;-) Miss you. Love.

Anonymous said...

Yum! These remind me of a biscotti I found on kimkushner.com/blog They look unreal! I am going to make them this week!

merry jennifer said...

Hi there. Just checking in - hoping you and the new little one (the in-process one) are doing well!

Martha said...

You are the only person I know who has read that John McPhee book about Oranges. In Italy it is hard to find anything in English so I snapped it up at a book swap. I remember it being very interesting. Good luck with both your babes as they arrive.