Honey Nut Crispy Rice Snack Bars

How to make a healthy, delicious snack bar using almond butter, honey, rice puffed cereal, walnuts and cinnamon How to make a healthy, delicious snack bar using almond butter, honey, rice puffed cereal, walnuts and cinnamonTwo months into the school year and I’ve already hit a wall on creative school lunch ideas. I’m far from perfect in my lunch packing habits, but try my best keep pre-packaged and processed snacks out of their lunches. Finding a semi-healthy homemade snack bar has been an illusive task for me the past few years. I have a few recipes written down and in the end they’ve all turned out to ones that I haven’t wanted to repeat. Too crumbly, too gooey, too many ingredients I didn’t normally keep on hand, or the worst outcome: the kids don’t like them.

This recipe though as been a winner for us. I find it easy and quick to put together, you don’t have to bake them. They aren’t too gooey at snack time and they don’t crumble all over the place and the kids and I think they taste delicious. In addition they yield about 24 bars which makes enough for me to wrap up and put in their lunch everyday for a week, plus extra for me! Win, win. As an extra bonus, I put a full cup of chopped walnuts in them which we are currently in surplus of. The puffed brown rice cereal I find in the cereal section of our Whole Foods.

Honey Nut Crispy Brown Rice Bars
 
Delicious no bake snack bars
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Ingredients
  • 6 c. brown rice crisps cereal
  • 1 c. chopped walnuts
  • ½ c. sunflower seeds (optional)
  • ⅔ c. almond butter
  • ½ c. honey (preferably local and raw)
  • ½ t. vanilla extract
  • ½ t. cinnamon
  • 1 c. chocolate chips (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl mix brown rice cereal, chopped walnuts and sunflower seeds.
  2. In a medium sauce pan combine almond butter and honey. Warm slowly over low heat until well combined. Stir in vanilla and cinnamon. Combine almond butter & honey mixture with cereal mixture. If adding chocolate chips add them in now. Spread into a greased 8"x10" baking dish.
  3. Refrigerate for an hour, then cut into 24 square. Enjoy!

Give them a try, let me know what you think! I have other school snack ideas here.
Perfect for school snacks. A healthy, crispy rice and nut snack bar.

Knitting & Reading and Writing with Ease

Knitting a barn sweater from taproot and reading Writing With Ease Knitting a barn sweater from taproot and reading Writing With EaseI’m still working on the Barn Sweater. This time knitting it at the right size…there is nothing more humbling than having to rip back a skein and a half of knitting. Since I am joining up with Ginny’s Yarn Along, I thought I’d focus on something I learned from her. If you have a struggling reader, or a child learning to read, it can be terribly frusterating to listen to them struggle as they read aloud. My patience has been held in place, ever since I learned to knit while they are reading. Before I would focus and toil over each and every word they read, every letter they sounded out. In my head, I’d get caught up in thoughts of, ‘Why is this so difficult for them? Why don’t they get this yet? Oh, they are reading so painfully slow! This is taking forever!’ I’ve learned for some children reading takes time and much practice. Knitting gives me something calm to focus on while I listen. Giving my hands something to do has taken off some of that focus and stress for me and allows me to relax and let them do the work. All the while I can look over what they are looking at and with patience and a calm voice I can correct or help them. Knitting and listening to reading together has been a game changer.

I don’t home school, we send our children to a Montessori school. But I very much admire Susan Wise Bauer, who has spearheaded homeschooling in a classical style. Since my children don’t receive homework at their school, every day after school we do a little home school homework. Which includes an exercise in Susan’s Writing with Ease and 10 minutes of reading aloud. The wee one, who just turned four, gets a lesson in letters and their sounds. Which to my great relief she is picking up effortlessly!

I’m looking for a new book to read, have you read anything good lately?

Curious to see what I’ve been Sewing & Listening (to)? See for yourself on facebook.

Narcissus : : Thinning & Replanting

Thinning Narcissus

Thinning Narcissus
Planting Narcissus

Planting Narcissus

Planting Narcissus

Narcissus BulbNarcissus will always have a soft spot in my heart now. When we very first looked at this property they were blooming and one of our children picked a couple which I brought home. We left this property thinking that it was perfect enough for us except it was just much too much work for us. I went home with a heavy heart, that only those who’ve been through a long, roller-coaster home search can relate. But I put the flowers in a tiny vase in my kitchen and got on with life. The smell however, from those those few lovely blooms was enough to knock you over every time I walked into the room. It was like heaven.

The blooms soon faded and we soon returned to give the property a second look. We took a deep breath, held hands, declared ourselves partially crazy and bought our home. Each year I look forward to them blooming to remind me of when we very first found this place.

There are about three twenty foot rows of various narcissus bulbs at the front of our property. There are also glanthus (snowdrops) mixed in with the narcissus all tucked into straight rows. This past winter, however I noticed that they needed a good thinning out. In the past couple of weeks I’ve been taking spare moments to dig up the bulbs and placing them in 5 gallon containers. With only two rows dug up, I have 15 gallons of bulbs! Yesterday I started the job of replanting them. I am using the recently dug furrows to plant the majority of them, plus adding a few more rows as well.

You may remember that last year I thinned out one row and planted narcissus bulbs in a perimeter around one of our vegetable gardens to ward out gophers. They are toxic to gophers so the hope is that will keep the pesky critters out of our garden. This year with so many to disperse about, other garden beds will get the same treatment. I also hope to scatter them around the front fence and a few other places.

Narcissus aren’t terribly picky garden residents. Plant them three times as deep as they are tall, about four-five inches apart. Give them a blanket of compost in the fall, full sun and a winters worth of rain and you will be rewarded in late winter with beautiful blooms. This year, if I can keep the bulb planting momentum up, there is hope that we’ll have beautiful blooms scattered everywhere this winter.

How to Crack a Walnut

fresh picked walnuts drying out before storage
My goodness, yet again the walnut harvest is under way. This year is our fourth year as walnut harvesters. Meaning that we are the lucky recipients of four very healthy English Walnut trees, which provide us about six grocery bags full of walnuts each year. That’s a lot of walnuts for one family, let me tell you. We seem to be in the habit of collecting them each fall, letting them cure for their two required weeks out in the open air (so they don’t mold in storage), then storing them in grocery bags and cracking them sporadically as needed. But once early fall comes upon us and the deadline of a new harvest weighs upon us, we crack with gusto. We set up a table under the maple tree, pour a glass of wine and make it almost a late afternoon habit of cracking last years walnuts for an hour or so. It makes a nice ending to the day and it’s a welcome way to usher in autumn. For both Scott and I, it became a somewhat secret mission to figure out how to crack the walnuts in a way that each half would come out whole. It’s not easy. The previous years we’d load up our freezer bags full of well chopped up nuts, only because it’s really challenging to get them out in one whole piece and easy to get them out in little bits and pieces. This year, through our somewhat meditative wine drinking walnut cracking habit we strived for better results. After much practice, we’ve figured out the best way to get the vast majority of halves out whole.
how to crack a walnut
In the rare instance that you too have a walnut tree, or happen to buy your walnuts whole, this is how we arrived at the best chances for harvesting your walnuts in whole halves.
how to crack a walnut

  1. Crack your walnut with three firm taps on the seamless side of the walnut.

how to crack a walnut
2. Turn the walnut up, so the pointy side is sky facing, and again give three firm taps on the point.
how to crack a walnut
3. Carefully pull away the shell and gently pull the walnut halves out.
how to crack a walnut
4. With a little bit of luck and practice, you should be able to get the majority of your walnut halves out in whole pieces.
how to crack a walnutGood luck and let us know how it goes!

How to properly crack a walnut so you get *mostly* two whole halves

October in the Garden

Thai Basil in October
Basil in OctoberWe got a little rain yesterday! Did you get some too? That was a nice treat for our parched yard. Like I’ve mentioned before, it’s just so unbelievably DRY outside. I even heard on the news last night that there is hope for two more little rainstorms to come by soon. Please do, we need it. Any little bit. It’s hard on the soul to watch so many growing things die due to lack of water. We try to water just enough to keep things alive, but in some cases, it’s just not enough.
Tomatoes in October
'Sun' drying tomatoes
'Sun' drying tomatoes
In other news, our basil has been going insane this year. For our family, 2014 will be the year of the basil. Pesto anyone? We’ve got a ton of cubes frozen and our plants are still going gang busters. The tomatoes are begining their steady decline in production, but all in all, it was also a great tomato year. We grew mostly San Marzanos and Consoluto Fiorentinos along with a couple of slicing tomatoes. Shockingly there was little to no blossom end rot on the San Marzanos, which as you tomato growers know, makes for a great tomato growing year! Scott’s put up thirty-three quarts of sauce. Not too shabby. Enough for 1 quart per week for winter dinners with a few left over to give as gifts.
Flower Seedlings in October
Flower Seedlings in October
Did I tell you I started some flower seeds back in August? I actually planted them twice in August. The first time I planted them, I put the little pots in direct sunlight, which seemed like a good idea, but nothing came up. Not one tiny little seedling. So I replanted a few weeks later and brought them into my trusty seed starting spot. In the garage, on the washing machine in front of a south facing window. Instant success! Now these little guys live outside. I’m debating planting out the hollyhocks and poppies before the winter begins versus keeping them in pots for spring planting. Any suggestions?
Nasturtiums by the Birdbath
These nasturtiums I planted August 1st and hopefully we’ll see some blooms before it gets frosty. The bird bath they sit under has been a very popular place this summer. I make sure to keep it full every morning and the birds seem most grateful.
A new orchard awaits
If you follow us on Facebook, you’ll know that we spent Saturday childless and at the nursery filling up our van full of fruit trees. Four apples (1 gravenstein, 1 red gravenstein, 1 arkansaw black & 1 sundowner) plus 2 O’Henry peach trees. Last winter was hard on our fruit trees, between the drought and the long, freezing cold weather they didn’t look too pleased this spring. Both our gravensteins up and died on us (so very sad!). So we must move forward and plant more.

How are things looking in your autumn garden? Oh, and if you haven’t noticed, A Sonoma Garden has a whole new look to it and a brand new web address! Click through if you’re viewing this on email or in a reader

Knitting a barn sweater from taproot and reading Writing With Ease

Knitting & Reading and Writing with Ease

I’m still working on the Barn Sweater. This time knitting it at the right size…there is nothing more humbling than having to rip back a skein and a half of knitting. Since I am joining up with Ginny’s Yarn Along, I thought I’d focus on something I learned from her. If you have a struggling…

Read More »

Planting Narcissus

Narcissus : : Thinning & Replanting

Narcissus will always have a soft spot in my heart now. When we very first looked at this property they were blooming and one of our children picked a couple which I brought home. We left this property thinking that it was perfect enough for us except it was just much too much work for…

Read More »