Guys? I’m a little nervous. There are quite a few new people here, and I’m having a little bit of stage fright. See, I’m really best at one-on-one conversations- throw me into a big room of people, and I cling to corners. In fact, I woke up this morning with pimples all over my face. Lucky for us, our arrangement is that I post photos of food, not myself. So, um, how do we do this? I am a little nervous, yes, but I’m also so excited you’re here. (!)

Let’s start slow, with these granola bars. It’s been all low skies and incessant downpours lately, and I, for one, could use some help in the energy department. A few years ago, Yaki had granola bars at a friend’s house, and came home telling me how incredible they were and requesting that I make them for him. I asked the friend for the recipe, but he had to ask his mom, and well, the chain of communication was a bit long, and the recipe never did make its way to me. Yaki has mentioned it a few times since (don’t feel too sorry for him, the guy lives pretty well- Exhibit A.: these, last night). I saved almost every granola bar recipe I came across (and there were lots of them), but for some reason, I never got around to making them. I mean, unlike granola, the store-bought versions aren’t absurdly expensive, and they last forever. Also, I find it a little hard to motivate myself to make granola bars when I can make these or these, or, well, you get the point. Granola bars seem so practical.

You know where this is going, right? When I finally got around to making them, I was in for a surprise. For starters, they are a breeze to put together, infusing your house with knee-weakening smells of roasting nuts and simmering honey. They taste infinitely better than store-bought, so much so that there’s really no comparison. They are crisp and crunchy, and intensely fragrant from the toasted oats and nuts laced with vanilla and honey. And, unlike the store-bought variety, there’s no long list of indecipherable ingredients. Oh, did I mention they contain coconut? A mere whiff of the stuff and I’m on vacation. In short, this one’s a winner.

P.S. This tribute to female friendship is just gorgeous (via Herriott Grace).

P.P.S. I’m on Pinterest (and I may be obsessed).

Coconut Granola Bars

From this recipe by Martha Rose Shulman for The New York Times

Yield: 20 pieces

1/4 cup canola oil

7 ounces (2 cups) rolled oats

1 1/2 ounces (1 heaped cup) flaked coconut

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I left this out)

1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/2 cup mild honey, like clover

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 ounces (1 cup) lightly toasted nuts, like almonds and pecans, coarsely chopped (I used almonds and walnuts)

1. Preheat oven to 325F/170C. Place the oats and oil in a bowl, and stir until coated. Spread the oats in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and toast for about 20 minutes, stirring once, until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven, return to the bowl, and add the coconut, spices, salt and nuts, stirring to combine. Turn the oven down to 300F/150C.

2. Place the honey and vanilla in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and pour over the oat mixture, stirring until evenly coated.

3. Line a 9x13x2-inch pan with parchment. Scrape the granola mixture into the pan and spread in an even layer. Bake until just golden, about 25 minutes. (Don’t let it become too brown, or the bars will be too hard). Allow to cool completely before cutting into 2-inch squares (or similar rectangles). (It might crumble a little, but that means a little treat for you!) Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

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