February 25, 2010

Hello again!

Work has been kicking my bum lately, hence the no-blog-posting in awhile. Hopefully you were able to try out my scone recipe (I made another batch, and this time froze a bunch for later…Yum…), and appreciated the view of at least one room in my house that is/was clean. I can assure you with the busy days that both Matthew and I have been having, things aren’t so pretty anymore. But what can you do, but start over again, wash the dishes, fold the laundry, and sweep up the piles of Numi’s hair. (Why is it impossible to get it all? Why?)

I’ve been wanting to share pictures and stories from our latest adventures, so here you go!

Valentine’s Day 
I was shocked and over-the-moon thrilled when Matthew surprised me with a B&B getaway for Valentine’s Day weekend. We drove North to my hometown of Placerville, and stayed at the Sugar Pine Bed and Breakfast – just a block from main street. Our room was in the turret of an old Victorian home built in the early 1900’s, and I honestly felt like a princess. My favorite part: the claw foot bathtub. After arriving and getting a delightful tour from the proprietors, I immediately asked if Matthew would mind waiting for lunch…while I took a bath. In the two days we were there, I took 3 baths! Can you tell how much I miss having a bathtub at home?!
We spent Saturday strolling Main Street, popping into Antique shops, cafes, and used bookstores, and (of course) running into old friends in nearly every store. Placerville felt like a new place to me, and it was so relaxing to stroll with Matthew, having good conversation, stopping to read for a bit and get a cup of coconut coffee. 
 It was such a memorable trip, capped off with breakfast with Kaitlyn the next morning. Matthew makes me feel so blessed.

House Update!
The front of our house is almost done! It has been a grueling few months of trudging through the sloshy mud and up the back porch to get in the house, and I have never, ever appreciated a front door as much as I do now! While still in process, the floorboards of the deck have been finished so we are able to walk up our lovely new stair and through our beautiful front door. Yay for projects coming to a close!

Delicious Granola/Bars
This recipe comes again from Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite food blogs. As usual, I altered the recipe a bit and am still not convinced that I found the right ratio of ingredients. I think I’ll have to make another batch. (oh darn!) It was a bit sweet for my taste, but overall the recipe was easy and can be custom-made with all of your favorites: dried fruits, wheat germ, almonds, chocolate chips, etc., etc.

Thick Chewy Granola Bars 

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
1/4 cup granulated sugar (I would use less next time…or possibly omit altogether)
1/3 cup oat flour (or 1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups chopped almonds
Handful of dried cranberries
1/3 cup almond butter (or another nut butter, if you prefer)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter, maple syrup, almond butter and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (I did not do this so well…I’m not sure I pressed them enough, so they crumbled apart pretty easily. A piece of plastic wrap can help with this, as you press down on the back of it.)

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, until lightly brown. Cool completely and then cut in squares. Again, mine turned out more like quasi-granola, but it may be to the reduced sugar too. Anyhow, have fun with mixing it up – there are so many different options!

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