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Recipe: Taste of Home’s Honey-Oat Granola Bars

I had a small gathering of friends over on Friday night to watch some livestream of TED 2010 in Long Beach.

We decided on a potluck approach to the evening so, among other things, I whipped up a batch of some Honey-Oat Granola Bars from the Taste of Home Cookbook, Cooks Who Care edition (by the people who publish Taste of Home cooking magazine- free issue offer on the website).

This is a pretty new cookbook, and it’s enormous with over 1300 recipes in every category imaginable.  A person’s name and hometown is associated with each recipe, which gives me that all-fuzzy-inside feeling.  You know, if Marlys in Cincinnati loves this recipe, it must be good 😉   I’ve noticed the ingredients tend to be budget-friendly and many of the recipes could likely be made with staples you already have in the pantry.

The Taste of Home Cookbook also features 21 heart-warming stories of people helping others through food-related efforts. The Cooks Who Care cookbook ed. celebrates the recipes and charitable acts performed by Cooks Who Care. The hope is that these stories and recipes will hopefully inspire others to make a difference in their communities.

I added a meyer lemon glaze to the top of mine to add a bit of festivity.

Honey-Oat Granola Bars with Meyer Lemon Glaze


4 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped salted peanuts
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sunflower kernels
3/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, peanuts, chocolate chips and sunflower kernels. Stir in the butter, honey and vanilla until combined (mixture will be crumbly). Press into a greased parchment paper-lined 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan.

2. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack; cut into squares. Cool completely before removing from pan. Yield: 3 dozen.


1 Meyer lemon (can substitute regular lemon)
1-1.5 cups powdered sugar

1. Place powdered sugar in a small bowl.  Squeeze lemon over bowl so juice pours into bowl, being careful to catch any seeds.  Whisk until combined and smooth.

2. Pour over honey-oat granola bars.

Thanks to Anjali for sending me this cookbook!


Book Club: An Honorable Run

An Honorable Run (website / amazon) is the exciting debut novel/memoir of Matt McCue, a young New Yorker by way of Iowa, Colorado, thousands of miles of cross-country running and some incredible coaching.He is also a good friend of mine.
I was proud to be (a bit) involved in the process of this book, through discussion and some editing, though I can’t take any credit for its wonderful outcome.  This is 100% McCue and I am so proud of him for accomplishing what so many intend to do but few actually do: publish a book- and a thought-provoking, heartwarming and successful book at that.
Knowing that Smorgasbite is more about eating than running, Matt was able to convince me to post on Smorgasbite in the following email (in which he quotes some of An Honorable Run’s tasty tidbits):

Besides the theme of wafting bacon, these are the best food related passages I could come up with. For the record, In N Out is very nutritious. Have you ever eaten there?

1. After one particularly draining fourteen-mile death march, I lounged on my aunt’s deck, my body feeling heavy in the wooden chair as the high noon sun roasted me. My digestive system was in tatters, the result of efforts to replenish my nearly 2,000 burned calories by eating a breakfast fit for three, and continuously shoving fried eggs and toast, cereal and spoonfuls of peanut butter into my mouth.

2. That night, along with my parents and my younger siblings, I celebrated at The Cheesecake Factory with a decadent slice of sinfully-rich peanut butter swirl cheesecake. Thanks to my high mileage and fast metabolism, the calories would burn off in my sleep.

3. To cap off the night, my dad had driven me along with a carload of my teammates, to an In-N-Out Burger. At midnight, scores of paper-thin distance runners packed the famous burger joint, gorging on well-deserved “double-doubles”, the grease running down our chins.

4. Freshly showered, I pulled up to the Fight Club’s granite kitchen counter, unfolded the sports section, and sat down to my favorite breakfast: crunchy homemade peanut butter granola doused with fresh cream.

Doesn’t that make you hungry?  Doesn’t that make you want to not run ten miles?  Doesn’t that make you want to buy this fantastic book and/or meet Matt on his extensive book tour?

Kudos, Matt.

Book Club: Bringing Nature Home

Well, haven’t I been a busy little reader lately? Or should I say busy little bee?

Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy describes the steps we need to take to restore backyard biodiversity and to keep plant and animal species from extinction.  There are colorful photographs on every page, many of bugs and plants.  Cute bugs and exotic plants!

There is a website that goes along with the book: www.PlantANative.com

This is helpful for those who don’t like books like to review online what they learned in the book.  There’s even an electronic map that makes suggestions on what to plant based on your geographic aone.  What’s more, the website has answers to tough questions.  (You know you want to check those out.)

Book Club: Clean Body

Clean Body: The Humble Art of Zen-Cleaning Yourself by Michael Dejong is the perfect book for both the product-averse and the product-obsessed-whose-bathroom-cabinet-can-hold-no-more.

According to the book, 5 kitchen staples–in various combinations–can cleanse, moisturize, exfoliate all parts of our bodies:

1. Salt

2. White Vinegar

3. Lemon

4. Baking Soda

5. Olive Oil

I’m interested in trying some of his “recipes” for body scrubs and face masks.  I think I’ll stick with my usual shampoos, though!

I appreciate how Dejong keeps the book light and humorous– far from a militant, anti-consumerist rant, it makes me more willing to give his suggestions a whirl.

Little Chef Kit: Books, apron, whisk

Little Chef Kit/Pots and Pans Gift Set for the budding kid chef:

  • Zookies Cooking Apron Set with a wisk, measuring spoons, two cookie cutters, chalk and a recipe book
  • Sassafras Cookie Making Set

I wish there were sets with adult-sized aprons!

Citibabes Store, $95

Book Club: Real Food

Holidays inevitably involve a lot of talk about food, and much of it is guilt-ridden. “This is so bad for me,” “I really shouldn’t be eating this,” and on and on.

At these times I am reminded of what a different perspective I have than most people when it comes to what’s “good” and “bad” for us to eat.

Real Food by Nina Planck will likely convince you, as it did me, that bacon, butter, cream, beef, lard, and other animal fats can in fact be good for us…

…if they are organically/sustainably/humanely/locally raised and produced.

Indulgence by way of responsible consumerism. Works for me. (Yum, butter.)

Book Club: The Reach of a Chef

The Reach of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman follows The Making of a Chef and The Soul of a Chef, neither of which I have read.  Thankfully, they were not prerequisites for understanding or enjoying The Reach of a Chef.

Thinking about food, cooking and restaurants through the eyes and minds of chefs was interesting and almost made me want to be a chef myself.  Even more, it made me want to eat at the restaurants at the best and most innovative chefs in the world.  Specifically, I am determined to make it to Grant Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago.

So determined that I wrote a [fictional] poem for a contest on Eater to win tickets to an book/tasting event hosted by Achatz in New York on November 6.  I don’t know yet if I won.  And as far as I can tell, Eater is taking its (his? her?) sweet time in choosing a winner, and even in determining a deadline by which to choose a winner.

But I do have it written on my calendar.  I do, after all, enjoy contests.

In Season: Apples

There are two types of people: those for whom season dictates food choices, and the rest of us.

Until recently it didn’t occur to me to think too much about seasonality when grocery shopping, choosing a recipe out of a cookbook or ordering at a restaurant. Sure, if a particular item was bountiful I might be drawn to it, but it was more afterthought than forethought.

Reading books about food has helped make local seasonality a prime consideration in my food choices. After foregoing the supermarket’s expensive Australian apples all summer, I am very glad for a dozen apple varieties to be in their prime in New York currently. Today I went apple picking at Weeds Orchard (great name). 89 cents per pound, crisp and juicy, and a perfect complement to brisk October air.

Now if only I can do without asparagus for six more months….

Book Club: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

There are two types of people: those who read books about food and those who don’t.

In my experience, nobody has anything against reading books about food, and the people who haven’t simply haven’t gotten around to it. And once you do read a book about food, you’re likely to read more. There’s something addictive to reading about recipes, where food comes from, and various food cultures.

I loved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, an autobiographical collection of stories and articles by Barbara Kingsolver, her husband, Steven L. Hopp, and her elder daughter, Camille Kingsolver.

It’s a wonderful starting point for the food-book-novice because it’s easy to relate to and entertaining. It provides condensed summaries of agricultural and dietary issues and gives practical tips for how we can all begin to eat a bit more ecologically and nutritiously. A corresponding website provides additional information and recipes.

My favorite character is the younger daughter, Lily, whose burgeoning chicken business reminded me (to an alarming degree) of my 9-year-old friendship-bracelet enterprise. And babysitting business. And school fundraiser coupon book sales.

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