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I really wanted to like these. Because honestly, what could be a better combination for fall flavors than pumpkin and chocolate?
But, I didn’t.
C likes them and they’re fine, but they’re not at all what I wanted them to be. I’m a HUGE texture person. (Just ask my poor mom who had to deal with making separate sides of cakes/brownies/etc. without nuts. I think she loves me. A lot.). And, I like the texture of my granola bars to be slightly crunchy/chewy: not completely crunchy or completely chewy. These fell on the chewy side of the spectrum. While the taste of these is pretty good (though I’d like more pumpkin flavor), the texture to me was that of soggy oats, which is basically what this bar is. Baked, soggy oats.
I got the recipe here, from Two Peas and Their Pod. I don’t want to be too harsh about this recipe because I love this blog for the wealth of unique recipes (did you know you can make your own Wheat Thins?!). So don’t give up on that blog, take a look around while you’re there because I really do love it :).
So what am I going to do about these? Experiment! I’ll probably tweak the recipe for the apple granola bars and make them pumpkin or take this recipe and add crunchy stuff.
I’ll make sure to report back! (Though we have to get through all of our current granola bars before I can add more!)

Seriously.

This salad is our first ever completely-from-our-garden masterpiece.

And it was T.A.S.T.Y!

I took a million pictures. I’ll spare you some hours and post just a few for your enjoyment.

We’re pretty proud 🙂

[We made our own salad dressing too!]

[and a carrot made its debut]

 

Hope you enjoyed our salad – we sure did!

We’ve actually been mowing down on lettuce for weeks now (and can’t seem to eat it as fast as we grow it! – we’ll definitely be planting less lettuce next year and more of something else).

I love fall. I love it so much that I usually try to start pretending it’s fall at the end of July. And what reminds me of fall? Apples and apple pie.

The other day I realized that I hadn’t made granola bars in way too long. So I decided to make some, but I didn’t want to make the same flavors I had before (Chocolate chip and cranberry & chocolate chip and peanut butter chip). And being in my fall-ish mood, I decided that I should adapt the recipe to make apple spice granola bars.

And what a good idea that was.

These granola bars basically are a hybrid of a granola bar and apple pie.

So do you want to know how it’s done? Okey dokey, here we go!

Apple Spice Granola Bars**

makes about 18 bars, depending on how you cut it.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup peanut butter
5 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
+/- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon*
+/- 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg*
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup broken up apple chips
1/2 cup toasted oat cereal rings
2/3 cup wheat germ
*since this was an experimental recipe these measurements are approximate. This is about what I did, to taste.

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In a medium bowl mix together peanut butter, honey, applesauce, vanilla and spices. Mix until smooth.
3. In a large bowl stir together oats, apple chips, oat cereal rings and wheat germ.
4. Pour dry ingredients into wet and mix until well combined.
5. Pour and pat into a greased 9″x13″ pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes in preheated oven until golden brown.
6. Remove to wire rack and let cool. Cut into bars.
**this recipe was adapted from this recipe.

 
These turned out delicious! They are a bit more crumbly than your store-bought granola bars, but they still travel well. C and I usually put the cut bars directly into snack-sized zip top bags and throw them in the freezer (mainly because the two of us can’t go through that many too quickly. If you have a family, no need to freeze). Once they’re in the bags it’s easy to grab and go or throw them in Jr.’s lunch box! 🙂

[coming soon: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip granola bars!]

…which has all but ended now…

I’m finally updating you on our strawberry season fun! (Thanks to the fact that I was about to dive into make supremely wonderful Molasses Crinkles and realized I don’t have enough molasses…)

Have you ever eaten an Oregon strawberry?

Our 6lbs. strawberries getting a bath.

Well, if you’re not from Oregon, then probably not. But they’re like candy. Seriously, the sweetest, little red-all-the-way-through berries you’ll ever sink your teeth into. But, I might be biased.

This last year I’ve been really missing Oregon strawberries. Growing up we always had strawberry freezer jam and frozen strawberries in our freezer, so this first (near) year of marriage has been sad with out my sweet little red berries. I even went as far as buying strawberry jam in the grocery store (YUCK!).

Side note – if you’ve always had grocery store jar jam, you are missing out on some amazing jams. They don’t compare AT ALL. Poor C will probably be the one finishing the store jam because he doesn’t mind it – unless we can find it a suitable home. Anyone? Anyone?

But, back to the main story….since I was missing them so desperately this last year, I knew I had to pick some this year. So my mom and I made an excursion to the farms to pick. Unfortunately, thanks to this lovely cold, wet Oregon summer (which actually I do like), we ended up very damp and muddy – hence the lack of field pictures…

I did end up with a couple of baskets full of wonderful, red berries – six pounds in total, which I realized was still not quite enough for everything I wanted to do with them. I’ll have to pick more next year!

So what did we do with them?

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Seriously, if you have not had homemade freezer jam made from fresh, local berries, you are missing out. The beauty of freezer jam is that it’s not cooked, so you get all the lovely fresh strawberry taste preserved all year long!

I used a packet of Sur-Jell for this. My mom made a batch with a different brand, and we decided that the Sur-Jell was better (it had fewer ingredients and required no corn syrup). We haven’t done a taste test, but I figure that the less ingredients, the better. I want to taste STRAWBERRIES and nothing else (well, the sugar is good too). I’m not posting the recipe here as you need to follow the recipe in the packet of pectin you get – it varies from brand to brand.

I definitely finger-licked this bowl clean...is that bad?

I made one batch, but smushed up enough strawberries and froze them to make a whole other batch of the jam. Our freezer doesn’t quite have enough space for 6 jars of jam, so I’ll make the rest later this year when we finish up a current jar or two 🙂

Fresh and Frozen Berries

Now we couldn’t go and pick a whole bunch of berries and not eat some of them fresh. This is when I realized that I hadn’t picked enough berries. Strawberries don’t last super long once picked (unless, I guess, they’re mutant grocery store berries), but we still could have had a lot more to munch on.

There’s also about 3 quarts of frozen strawberries in our freezer right now for smoothies and freezer pies later in the year. I flash froze these first, but I was a little impatient with the process, so there might be a few strawberry casualties.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

This might be my favorite reasons that strawberries exist. Really, what’s better than ooey-gooey strawberry-rhubarb goodness?

Not.much.else.

One thing I love about making pies is impressing people sharing them with others.

[by the way…one of my all time favorite kitchen gadgets is the pastry mat in the back of this picture]

It’s just so much fun to have a pretty AND tasty treat.

This would be the OTHER reason I should have picked more strawberries. But I froze enough strawberries and almost froze enough rhubarb to make another pie out of season.

You can try this yummy recipe out for yourself. Find it here. I did tone down the spices a bit. The amount of allspice in this recipe was a little too much for me.

Did you pick strawberries or another berry this year?

And maybe soon I can get C to update you all on our garden – he’s the one with the photos. It looks like we’re going to have an awesome tomato crop this year. And we’ve already got lettuce coming out of our ears!

Thanks to Purex, you can get a whole year’s subscription to Parents Magazine! How awesome is that?!

Just head over here and enter this code: PX1620

P.S. And I PROMISE to get up pictures and details of the recent Strawberry-Palooza over here. Freezer jam and strawberry-rhubarb pie!