Down East 2013 ©
We’ve had houseguests. Lots of them. Its summer in Maine and summer is when all good people want to visit our state. The phone started ringing in the early spring. “We thought we might come up for a few days this summer and we’d love to see you.” Sounded like a great idea in late March/early April when all was mud and rain and time felt slow and open. Now it’s practically the beginning of August and I want to know where my summer went.
Don’t get me wrong. I love these people who are willing to travel hours – some across the country — to come see us. I love them all. And our houseguests should win awards for pitching in. One friend spent hours picking blueberries and raspberries so we could have pies each night. Other friends have gotten dirty pulling weeds so that we could have a salad without grass and vegetables from the garden every evening. They strip their beds and do dishes and wake up with smiles. But the truth is a day is different when you wake up knowing that there are new people in the house, wanting your good strong coffee and something delicious for breakfast. And lunch. And dinner.
Breakfast is the most problematic of these meals for me. I don’t wake up hungry or in the mood to entertain – or cook. My favorite “guest” breakfast is simple, but always seems to be a hit: big bowls of yogurt, fresh fruit and berries, nuts, honey, and granola bars. If you make the granola bars ahead of time (they’ll keep for at least a week) you can throw together breakfast in about 5 minutes. All you need to go with it all is a good, strong pot of coffee.
Next time the phone rings and someone says “Hey’ we’re headed up north and would love to visit,” invite them to come back in late winter. January or February when time stands still.
Don’t try to make these on a super humid day—they tend to fall apart. The bars will keep, covered and refrigerated, for at least a week.
Vegetable oil spray for the pans
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, or your favorite nut
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins or currants
1/4 cup roasted salted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup sun-dried cranberries or cherries or blueberries
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup honey
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line two large rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil and lightly spray with vegetable oil.
In a large bowl mix the oats, pecans, apricots, raisins, sunflower, flax and sesame seeds, cranberries, cinnamon, and ginger, and stir well to combine thoroughly. Add the oil, maple syrup, and honey and mix well making sure the liquids thoroughly coat the dry ingredients.
Divide the mixture between the two cookie sheets and press down (forcefully) with a metal spatula so the granola is about 1/2-inch thick. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the mixture is golden brown and looks cooked through, turning the cookie sheets once during the baking. Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Using a sharp, serrated knife, cut the mixture into 20 or 25 bars. Let cool thoroughly and place in a tin or a tightly sealed plastic container with wax or parchment paper between each layer. Makes 20 to 25 granola bars.