23 February 2010

Winter Picnic

February hardly seems the time for a cup of tea outside. But on a brilliantly sunny afternoon in Central Park, what could be better? I've had enough of huddling inside this winter, and the city has been so softened by luscious blankets of snow that an alfresco cup was irresistible.

So the other morning, right after I woke up, I made chai, poured it in a thermos, and thought about what else to take along.

Something durable and portable would be required (especially if you end up on a little two-hour detour through sales racks at Saks positively vomiting bargains, on your way up 5th Avenue).

The solution: a classic granola bar. Whether hiking or hopping on the subway, these bars- adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, the lovely Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking- are ideal to take along.

They're chewy, gingery, not too sweet, and exponentially better than any packaged granola bar. And no matter where you end up trekking, the oats and nuts will keep you steady- and counteract the effects of drinking 18 cups of chai (or carrying 18 shopping bags).

Ginger Granola Bars
Makes: 16 to 24 bars.

1 tablespoon almond oil
1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 cups chopped toasted almonds, walnuts or sunflower seeds (or a combination)
1/2 cup oat bran
1 1/2 cups unsweetened crisp brown rice cereal
1 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 cup brown rice syrup
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

1. Grease a 10x12-inch pan with the oil. In large bowl, mix together oats, nuts, oat bran, cereal, cranberries and ginger.

2. In small saucepan, combine brown rice syrup, sugar, vanilla, salt and lemon zest. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens slightly, about 4 minutes. Pour over oat mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.

3. Spread into prepared pan and let cool to room temperature; the bars can be refrigerated for longer storage. Cut into desired serving sizes.

Even if all you can manage is a takeout cup, a snowsuit and a five-minute sit on a sunny bench, have some tea outside, soon. It's worth it.


gilliano said...

What a lovely idea! In Sydney it's quite hot at the moment, but I could wrap up the picnic rug, make some ice tea and bring a friend to the park!

+that granola bar recipe looks delicious.

Franklin Teadrinker said...

More squirrels, less vomit.

Anonymous said...

great shots of park & tea

AC said...

I need granola bars to keep my monster at bay - how long do these keep? I'm going to Kenya for 10 days and am hoping they last that long?