Tuesday, January 22, 2008

CA Bay Area: Indian Food Bloggers Meet

A few of us got thinking and decided it was high time we all met.
If you live in the California Bay Area, do join us on Saturday, 16th February 2008.
Send me an email (the.best.cooker@gmail.com) if you are interested.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Makar Sankranta

Best wishes to you on the occasion of Makar Sankranta.
Or as we say in Marathi 'til-gool ghya good bola' which is a condensed way of saying
'May the sweetness of the jaggery sweeten our talk and may the unctuousness (snigdha-ta) of the sesame bind our friendship.'.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Raising the Bar

After a much needed and relaxing break, we are now back to school, projects, homework, and of course school lunches. A favourite school lunch staple of mine are granola bars.
Quick to make and devoid of any preservatives, corn syrup, HFCS, anything unpronounceable. I can never make enough of these bars. Full of nuts and dried fruits along with that woodsy oaty flavour; these are the best granola bars we've ever eaten. No contest!
Though these bars contain all good stuff, they are quite calorie-dense; in a good way.

My version is based on a recipe from Good Housekeeping. Over the years I've made several variations and continue to make more variations mostly based on current favourites. It is a work in progress.

Here is latest version.

2 cups old fashioned oats (not quick cooking oats)
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup (or more) brown sugar, packed
½ cup lightly toasted wheat germ (optional, see notes below)
1/4 cup flax seed meal (optional)
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup honey
a pinch of salt
1 tsp (or more) ground cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup raisins, sweetened dried cranberries, dried blueberries
½ chopped nuts
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350F.
Line a 13x9 baking pan with foil leaving an overhang on all sides.
Spritz the foil with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.
Add the oil, honey and egg.
Mix well.
Using wet hands pat the mixture in the pan.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes, till the edges start browning slightly around the edges. Don't over bake as the granola bars will very quickly go from nice and woodsy to cardboardy.
When cool, use the overhanging foil to lift the entire batch onto a cutting board.
Cut into bars.

You could use only whole wheat flour. But after much experimentation, I've settled on this proportion of whole wheat flour and all purpose flour.

If the wheat germ is omitted, replace with an equal amount of oats.

If using flax seed meal, refrigerate the granola bars as the flax seed may start smelling off if left for too long at room temperature.

The egg can be omitted but the bars don't hold their shape as well.
Next time I make these bars, I want to try Nupur's idea of substituting the egg with flax seeds.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

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