Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Tuesday's Time To ... Try A New Recipe

One of the things that I enjoy best of all about my wonderful vocation as a wife and mother, is that I get to be in charge in the kitchen! I love cooking, and relish being able to research and explore new recipe ideas and ways to eat, and as we are approaching autumn, I am starting to think about new menus which will incorporate some of the lovely seasonal foods that will be available in the shops soon at a good price, such as root vegetables, pumpkins, squashes, berries, apples, smoked cheeses and meats and, quite soon, our very favourite autumn treat of all - pheasant.  I can't wait to share with you our family's traditional pot-roast pheasant dish!  It is delicious!  We're not quite there yet though, so our menus for the next few weeks will still definitely be summer ones, although just at the moment the weather seems to have forgotten that it's only 1st August tomorrow, and is treating us to yet more of the cool, rainy conditions that seem to have been the theme of our summer weather this year. That being said, it doesn't mean I can't try out a few new recipes all the same!

During the week I tend to prepare our lunches, at least as far as I can, the day before we eat them. This saves a lot of time in the morning, and means that I can concentrate on preparing nice, wholesome breakfasts instead, which more frequently need to be eaten as soon as they are made than do our lunches. I try to make dishes for our lunches that can be eaten either at home, or out, depending on what we are all doing. The cubs especially do not always have the same timetable each day, now that they are at college, and even though it is the long summer break from their studies just now, they are still busy with other commitments which means that sometimes they need a pack-up and sometimes they don't, as each day for them is different. On the other hand Papa Bear takes a pack-up to work with him every single weekday, to the envy of some of his workmates, who don't get to bring a pack-up and always like to see what I have prepared him for his lunch!  I never tell him beforehand, so it is always a surprise!  I like to make things sometimes that he can share with his workmates too, some of whom live alone and don't get to eat home cooked treats very often!  Although I know that it isn't healthy to eat sweet treats every day, I also know that Papa Bear and his gang at work burn up a huge amount of calories during the day, as they are busy doing hard physical labour all day long, 5 days a week.  So he can easily afford to relax the general rules that we should avoid high calorie snacks - in fact, he actually needs them, to get enough energy to keep going.  And as Cubby Bear is also working with his dad at the moment over the summer break, he too is working up a hearty appetite each day!  So yesterday I decided to try a new recipe for a sweet treat for Papa and Cubby Bear to enjoy with their workmaktes.

I'm sorry there are no illustrations for this recipe. It is difficult to take photographs with the webcam on our laptop, and especially so when you have flourry, sticky hands from making these delicious, nutritious cereal bars!

If you are soaking your grains before cooking as I am, then you will need to start this recipe the night before you want to make it.

Yummy Trail Mix Bars

You will need ...

1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup honey, divided
1 teaspoon lemon juice (plus extra if you choose to soak your grains - I used about 2 lemons' worth).
2 cups wholegrain flour (I soaked mine overnight in lemon juice.  If you don't want to do this, the recipe will still work out fine, but you will still need the 1 teaspoon lemon juice as listed, so be sure not to omit it if you don't soak your grains beforehand).
1 cup oats (soaked as above)
1/2 cup wheatgerm (soaked as above)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup plain (semisweet) chocolate, chopped into chunks (or use chips)
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup golden sultanas
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried cherries
(for the 4 ingredients above, substitue whatever dried fruit you like.  I used 1 cup of a "cherry berry" mix that had all 4 of the dried fruits listed).
1/2 cup flaked coconut
2 tablespoons sesame seeds.

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees or gas mark 6.  Have ready a 9 x 13 inch baking pan, lined with parchment.

2.  In a large bowl, mix together the butter or margarine, 3/4 cup of the 1 cup honey and the lemon juice if you have not used it to soak the flour (it will be harder to mix if you have used it!  I use margarine rather than butter in baking.  If you choose to use butter, then it will be helpful to soften it a little, if you are not adding the lemon juice at this stage).  Mix until well blended.

3.  Add the (soaked beforehand, if you chose to do this) flour, oats and wheatgerm, and stir well.  If the mixture is too stiff, add a little more butter or margarine.  Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan and set aside.

4.  In a separate bowl, mix together the the beaten eggs with the remaining 1/4 cup honey.  Stir in the walnuts, chocolate, dried fruit, coconut and sesame seeds.  Make sure that they are well combined.

5.  Spread this gooey delicious mixture over the base in the prepared pan and put in the centre of the oven.

6.  Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until the centre is set and the top is lightly browned.  I covered the top with foil after the first 15 minutes, and this took 35 minutes to bake in our fan assisted oven.

7.  When done, remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.  You can make them as small or as large as you like - I got 18 out of this, which is probably a little generous, but for my hungry menfolk (and their workmates!) they really don't need to be any smaller.

And the verdict?

Well, I would have been able to take a photograph for you today, but I couldn't - because the whole entire pan is already gone!  Everyone loved them - even one of Papa Bear's workmates, who apparently hates dried fruit!  He didn't even notice, and said it was delicious!