If you have been snowbound in New England or if you have somehow managed to forget about Valentine’s Day which has been crammed down our throats since December 24, here is the life-saving answer for you: you can make a nice homemade batch of granola bars with ingredients I hope you have on hand already, and wrap them up in brown parchment paper and colorful twine, and look wonderfully whole earthy and romantic AND kindhearted.
We all know that homemade gifts are the best, even if we also know in our heart of hearts that they were probably assembled in haste, with clumsy fingers, but all the best intentions by people we love, who do not want to slide down that slippery slope to Valentine’s Day purdah. Homemade granola says loving better than the hurried purchase of the last sad, droopy bunch of red and white carnations from the grocery store. Plus, there is chocolate. But no preservatives. And no plastic wrapping! What an intuitive, environmentally sensitive person you are!
Go rummage around in the kitchen cabinets and pull out the rolled oats, the cashews, some raisins, dried cherries, honey, peanuts, almonds and cinnamon, and hope that you have chocolate chips tucked away under the rafters someplace. You are about to make a sweet Valentine’s Day present, and you are also solving snack and breakfast issues. You are practically noble for your efforts and concerns! Look at the cute snacks! Look at those little hearts! And won’t the crumbly bits be great stirred into breakfast yogurt? Amazing. I bet the executives from The Great British Baking Show are going to get in touch with you any minute now! Granola is much more complex than Rice Krispies Treats…
We are also attaching a Valentine card image at the end of the article today that you can print, so you look like the authentically kind, considerate, caring and loving person that you really are if you could just remember that Christmas AND Valentine’s Day roll around every year. Unlike the political cycle, Valentine’s Day is dependable and returns every February, just like the groundhog. But it can be a day rife with romantic neediness and it can be an emotional minefield.
I’ve included the links to a couple of cutting edge granola theories. The folks at Slate Magazine had a granola competition a couple of years ago – it must have been a slow news week – and four varieties of granola were blind taste-tested. Stephen Metcalf’s did not win. But you can judge for yourself.
Get cracking! Romance is in the air. Or is it the roasting nuts?
Homemade Granola Bars
YIELD: 24 servings
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried sour cherries, chopped
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla.
3. Mix well using your hands, add in cherries, chocolate chips and almonds. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden around the edges. Cool on wire rack for about 30 minutes before cutting. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting because they will crumble.
“Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.”
― Zelda Fitzgerald