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When Boyfriend moved away a few weeks ago, I told him I needed his address.  His smartass answer was “Why? Are you going to mail me things?”  Well…yes.  As a matter of fact, I am.  And I think, probably, it’s going to become one of my new favorite hobbies: cook things that will survive 3 days in the mail.  It’s like a challenge.

So you’ll have to forgive the delay in getting to these granola bars, which I actually made last weekend.  See, part of the fun for me is that a) he doesn’t know what’s in the little care packages he’s going to continue to receive, and b) he doesn’t even know they’re coming (stifles excited giggle). And since he’s one of my few loyal readers (Hi Parents!  Hi Cousin!), he’d read about something I made and mailed, and then my fun would be ruined.  And I think we all know that I don’t like anything ruining my fun.

I’m really, really crappy at keeping secrets though, so he sort of knows that this one is coming.  He knows I’m sending him something, anyway, and by the time this posts (Thanks delayed posting!) he should have already gotten his presents and showered me with praise for my thoughtfulness (Wait – is that not the point!? Shit…).  What he doesn’t know is that I’m actually sending him a care package with these granola bars and  some spiced, roasted pumpkin seeds (along with some other goodies) plus the second present that I couldn’t keep my big damn mouth shut about (Really –  I’m a crappy secret-keeper.  Don’t tell me things.  This time, though, it was the peppers distracting me.  Not my fault: I couldn’t think through all the burning.  Ugh, the burning (shudders))

Some words of wisdom about the Smitten Kitchen’s riff on Ina’s granola bars: stick them in the freezer before you try to cut them.  Seriously.  The honey holds it together, but they crumble like crazy when you try to saw through them.  Oh, and read the label on the package of almonds that you buy – I have no doubt that the sliced almonds the recipe calls for would have worked out much better than the slivered almonds I bought.  Duh.  You’d think reading is the one skill I would’ve mastered after majoring in English in college, but alas, you’d be mistaken.

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Granola Bars

a la Ina, via the Smitten Kitchen

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal

1 cup sliced (I repeat, sliced) almonds

1/2 cup shredded coconut (you can add more, I just don’t really care for shredded coconut)

1/2 cup wheat germ

2/3 cup honey

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup raisins (or other dried fruit – I just used what I had, and what I had was raisins)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and bake the oatmeal and almonds for 10 – 12 minutes.  You’ll smell when they’re done.

Once they’re out of the oven, lower the temperature to 300 degrees, and butter a 13×9 inch baking dish.  I lined mine with parchment paper, which helped immensely in getting them out of the pan.

Mix the oatmeal, almonds, coconut, salt, raisins and wheat germ together in a large bowl, then add the vanilla, and finely the honey.  Once the honey is fully incorporated, pack everything REALLY REALLY TIGHTLY into the baking dish.  I found that using a square of parchment paper to really squish everything into the pan worked great here.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, and cool completely.  I recommend getting them out of the baking dish as a whole unit (once they’re cool), then sticking them in the freezer for about 30 minutes to make sure they cut easily.  They also store nicely in there, otherwise they get a little too crumbly.

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