(Almost) According to Hummingbird: Muesli Bar

I was looking for something vaguely virtuous, something I could, perhaps, easily take to work to nibble at lunch-time. Something which wasn’t a sandwich, and which wasn’t full of sugar, and wasn’t really flapjack.

What I found was this recipe for a Muesli bar in one of my Hummingbird Bakery recipe books. It involved oats and cornflakes and dried fruits and nuts and seeds, and quite a lot of sugar, if I’m honest. It wanted about 240ml of golden syrup AND about 240g of sugar. Bit much, if you ask me. So I switched the both out with a large-ish splurge of black treacle. Still sweet (ish) but not quite as sweet as it would have been.

Muesli Bar

Apparently, though, Mark doesn’t like treacle (I did know this; I forgot) so I need not have been so nice as to switch out the raisins for something else. I also skipped the cornflakes, having bought a box of Morrisons’ own brand. I’ll have to think of something else to do with them.

So basically, I ended up with some fairly virtuous flapjack, being butter and treacle, with oats, desiccated coconut, apricots, cranberries, sunflower seeds, and pecans. According to the recipe, it didn’t need baking. I think if I made it again, I probably would bake it. It’s quite melty and sticky otherwise.

And then I decided that so much virtue was too much, and melted down some old and needing-to-be-used-up chocolate to pour over the top.

Sigh. I tried with the virtue.

Banana Flapjack

I am hugely fond of flapjack. I like to think of it as finger-food porridge, the sort you can eat cold. And since porridge is so good for you, therefore so is flapjack.

I’ve been taking good-sized chunks with work for lunch – I can’t be doing with making sandwiches every morning. With flapjack, I make a big batch at the beginning of the week and then grab a bit before I go. I try to make it a bit healthier by using treacle and dark brown sugar, but even so, I’m still aware that it could be better. (I’d say ‘guiltily aware’ except I try not to associate foods with guilt or virtue. I just enjoy my food and eat as best I can.)

So this week, I dug out a recipe I found a few years ago for a no-added-sugar flapjack recipe. That, and I had a bunch of bananas sitting in the fruit bowl, for some reason not being eaten. Just ripening.

Banana Flapjack

It’s a nice recipe, easily adapted.

The basic recipe is 2-3 ripe bananas, smooshed, 80ml olive oil, 2 cups of oats, and a splash of vanilla extract. Mix it all up and let it sit for a few minutes, then bake for about 20 mins at 175C.

I chucked in some glace cherries, candied peel, and desiccated coconut.

Simple Vegan Flapjack

We all know I’m a lazy so-and-so when it comes to cooking. I’m a throw-it-in-the-pot-and-see-what-happens kind of a girl. And it’s honestly just effort to change my ways just because I’m cutting out dairy, eggs and meat.

So I’m just going to be taking my ordinary recipes, and substituting, and seeing what happens.

What I believe to be vegan flapjack; recipe next week

Apricot Treacle Flapjack

This week, as promised last Sunday, is the recipe for a Simple Vegan Flapjack.

You won’t need a long list of outlandish ingredients, or fancy-pants equipment: just a big saucepan and a baking tray. If you’re feeling up to it, a set of scales to take ratios from your preferred flapjack recipe. I tend to guesstimate when I’m making flapjack.

Ingredients:

Oats

Treacle, several tablespoons (Tate & Lyle assure me theirs is vegan; I looked it up and everything!)

Coconut oil, a couple of tablespoons

Chopped apricots (or dried fruit of your preference)

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients – from any good supermarket – it’s simply a question of a normal flapjack-making practice. Heat the treacle and coconut oil until the oil’s molten and stirred into the treacle. Pour into a bowl with the oats and apricots. Mix well. Turn onto a baking tray and bake at about 200C for about ten-fifteen minutes.

See, simple substitution of coconut oil for butter. (And treacle for syrup, but if you’d prefer to use syrup, go ahead. I still have yet to stock my cupboards with any and the treacle needs using up.)

Next up, I’m going to experiment with fairy-cakes and substitutions.

Breakfast Flapjack

There’s nothing quite like being asked “And what do you do?” to make you think about what you do, if you’re like me and could be doing better. You know, moderately intelligent and not living up to that because you’re still working out your life’s path. (How to sound pretentious: use flowery phrases to avoid repetition…)

I was asked this the other day, following a discussion about hobbies. And since then, I’ve been thinking about What I Do. Which isn’t really all that much.

I go to work. I come home and read and try to write and bake and watch things. I have loads of plans for things I want to do, and then say I don’t have the time. Which is a lie, really. Unless I were to try to do everything I want to do. It’s more that I don’t really have the money. Which is sad. For me, anyway.

That, and I’m really a lazy person at heart. I’m much better at dreaming and planning than I am at actually doing. Which is why I have at least half a dozen notebooks with a couple of pages of planning for a story. I have lots of ideas. I’m working on spinning them into actual stories.

And to fuel that, this week, I’ve been baking flapjack.

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Now, I know I’m not much of a breakfast person, but in the winter, I don’t think you can really beat a nice bowl of porridge with a dollop of jam.

So here’s the summery version: flapjack. It’s quick and simple and I like to think it’s relatively healthy.

I switched the honey with a spoon or two of home-made blackberry and apple jam, chucked in a handful of berries and cacao chips, and it’s been making a very nice way to start my days. At brunch-ish time. To be honest, it could probably have done with a bit more butter or jam, to stick it all together better, but never mind.

So. Melt you some butter and jam together and stir it into a bowl of oats, adding berries and cacao chips. Or chocolate chips, if that’s what you prefer. To be honest, aside from the basic butter, jam, and oats, it’s really all up to you. Flapjack is wonderfully adaptable.

Spread on a tray and bake for about ten minutes at a normal sort of temperature. 180C sounds about right.

Like I said, I’m quite lazy, really.

Chocolate and Berry Flapjack

This week has been quite a lazy one (and I’ve been a little distracted by visitors) so this recipe is wonderfully lazy. A nice, quick, throw-together.

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I chucked a slab of butter and about three spoons of honey into a pan to melt together, and then stirred it into a bowl of oats, a handful of cacao chips and some defrosted mixed berries. Then I popped it into the oven for about ten minutes at about 200C.

It’s not the most useful of recipes, I agree, having no real measurements. But I trust you to use your own judgement in working out if you have enough oats.

Millionaire’s Flapjack

There’s something about it being pay-day that makes me think about the future.

I’m an educated woman (we all hope; that I’m a woman, I mean. I’m clearly educated…), and I don’t intend to work in retail for the rest of my life. I don’t particularly intend to still be working in retail by the end of this year. Don’t get me wrong, I quite liked working in my card-shop in December. A lovely atmosphere, everyone happy and friendly. Kind of like after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve/Morning. When everyone’s just genuinely cheerful, even though it’s, like, 1am and we’re all tired because no-one had a nap before going to Mass. But that doesn’t mean I want to do that every day.

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I agree. He doesn’t have much to do with the post, but I can’t find a suitable picture that does!

But, then, what to do? I must admit, I’m not hugely enamoured of the idea of a 9-5 job. I like to be able to sleep until I wake up naturally (at the moment, about half 10). To be able to spend whole days just sat reading because I want to finish my book. Which I want to do pretty much every time I pick a book up. Some people get lost in computer games. I get lost in books. Which is probably why I don’t read nearly as much as I used to. To have time off when I like.

In an ideal world, I’m a writer. Hence my novel. And this blog. Not that either are currently paying the bills. That’s the card-shop. One day, perhaps. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

But anyway, the point, which I’m slowly getting to, is this. I’m going to attempt to restructure this blog and make it more focused. To give it better direction. Obviously I don’t intend for it to make me my fortune. That’s not building a castle in the sky. That’s an entire citadel. And then some.

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Right now, the aim is for me to practise my writing. Finding a subject every day, or every other day, though, is difficult. Especially when I have almost no limits on what this blog is about. So this reordering of my Hall will go something like this: Food and Fiction. They are the main points of conversation.

Think of this as a Reading-and-Tasting Club. We shall discuss the books we’ve read or are reading or are writing, and the food we’re eating. (Well, OK, let’s be honest: I’ll be the one leading the discussions, so what I’m reading, writing, and eating. Feel free to add your comments though. I’m always interested in other people’s opinions. Just keep them friendly, though, would you? I’m a sensitive soul. Us creative types are. But I expect you know that anyway, as a creative-type yourself.)

So, without further ado, today’s recipe, in keeping with the thoughts of money: Millionaire’s Flapjack. Which is a layer of flapjack, a layer of caramel, and a topping of chocolate.

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For the flapjack: 330g oats, 200g unsalted butter, and 6 tablespoons of syrup or honey. I used honey. Melt the honey and butter together and stir into the oats, getting it all nice and sticky. Press into a baking tin and bake for about 20 minutes at about 200C. Allow to cool.

For the caramel: 125g butter, 125g brown sugar, and 1 400g can of condensed milk. Apparently, you’re supposed to make it like a sauce, by melting the butter, then dissolving the sugar in it, then adding the milk and stirring until thick. I might have misread this (or ignored it) and just plonked it all in the pan and mixed together until it was all liquid and beginning to thicken. Pour this on top of the cooled flapjack and allow to set.

Then, melt your chocolate. As much or as little as you like, in whatever combinations that you like – as you can see, I used white and dark. Pour on top and leave to set. If you can. Cut into squares and eat with a cup of tea.

Apple and Mango Flapjack

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I was experimenting, based on my previous flapjacks. This was nice and simple, merely melting butter and mixing that with mashed banana, chopped fruits and nuts and oats and baking for about twenty minutes. Apparently it worked. Certainly it’s tastier than muesli, so I reckon it’d make a good breakfast.

I didn’t start off with the idea of apple and mango. I wanted to make more flapjack. Since I needed to get more oats, I pottered to the dried fruits section to have a look. Always a mistake. Fortunately, though, the majority were sweetened, so they were ruled out. The mango, though, was fine. So that went into the basket. Since the other dried fruits were out-of-bounds, and apple and mango go well together, it was decided that chopped apple would be added.

So. Butter melted over a medium heat while the various fruits were being chopped or mashed. Chopped mixed nuts were chucked in as an afterthought. One of those “Yeah, that’d work, why not?” thoughts. So in they went. Then the butter, now a yellow pool, and oats. All was thoroughly stirred and dolloped into a lined baking tray. Into the oven for about twenty minutes.

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It came out smelling like a crumble.

And tomorrow I get to eat sugar again (Church counting ends Lent on Good Friday: count the days (but not Sundays!) if you don’t believe me!). Normally I go to Easter Sunday, but my mother makes the best hot cross buns in the world, and she only makes them on Good Friday. So it’s stop ‘early’ or miss out. I’d rather stop early…