For When Your Husband Hikes Half Dome, and Honey Almond Granola Bars

Dear Joey,

“It’s beautiful here, Rachel,” you told me, with a sort of hushed reverence that let me know you were in your element, even though I felt completely out of mine.

The third night in a row for me to put the girls to bed without you. The little girl asking if you were still at home, packing, because that’s where she saw you last. Me wondering how to explain to a not-yet-two-year-old, that her daddy is 150 miles away from her, from us, camping for the next several nights. The back and forth between strange bedrooms to soothe girls who were out of their element, too. It would have been almost too much to bear, had you not spoken those words the way you did.

How long have you been wanting to do this? Getting to Yosemite and climbing Half Dome never quite seemed to work out for you before, despite your repeated attempts to do so. There is part of me that is excited for you to get there and do it, and there is another part of me that is sick to my stomach when I think about it. 

Yesterday I was so nervous that I found myself preemptively praying for your safe return to me. But try as I might, I couldn’t stop thinking about you, there, without me. And the only thing I could really do to get my mind off of it all was put together a care package for you. I realize that homemade granola bars can’t promise a safe return home, but somehow I felt a bit better about sending you on your way having made them and packed them for you. 
I hope your first trip up Half Dome is as fulfilling as my first attempt at making homemade granola bars. More than that, I hope that those granola bars will pale in comparison to your experience on that mountain. I can’t wait to hear your story.

Happy hiking!

Honey Apricot Almond 
Granola Bars

I had never made granola bars before, and after looking at several versions, I decided to make my own based on various methods I had read about. I substituted apricot preserves for part of the honey, and my guess is you could do the same with just about any flavor preserve you like. The key is that the preserves are a sticky liquid, which binds together the dry ingredients. You could use any variety of dried fruit and/or nuts you like, or even just use chocolate chips, if you prefer.

What I learned is that if you know the principal of how these bars are put together, there’s no end to the creativity you could bring to them. 

This recipe fills an 8×8 pan and yields 8-10 good sized bars.
     1 cup rolled oats
     1 1/4 cup crispy rice cereal
     1/8 cup milled flax seed
     1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
     2 Tablespoons apricot preserves
     2 Tablespoons honey
     1/6 cup dark brown sugar
     1/4 cup natural peanut butter
     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
     About 1 cup dried fruit and nut bits: apricots, almonds, cranberries, and cherries

  1. Prepare an 8×8 pan by sprinkling a medley of dried apricots, cranberries and almonds in the bottom of a glass pan. Shoot for a couple of handfuls sprinkled sporadically. You could line the pan with wax paper, but I didn’t bother.
  2. Toss together the first four ingredients in a separate bowl.
  3. Mix the apricot preserves, honey, and dark brown sugar in a small saucepan; heat to boiling. Remove from heat when the mixture reaches the boiling point.
  4. Add peanut butter and vanilla to the hot liquid 
  5. Pour the melted goodness over the oat mixture; mix quickly and thoroughly.
  6. Spread into a prepared pan and press down as if you were pressing down rice crispy treats. Make sure the dried fruit and nuts get stuck in the hot oat mixture.
  7. Let sit for several hours to firm up nicely. Then, slice bars into desired sizes. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in a ziplock baggie for convenience. 
  8. Send your husband off for a weekend of hiking Half Dome with them. It’ll make you feel a little bit more in control of the situation, and sometimes that sort of illusion is worth the effort in the kitchen.

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