Monday, October 4, 2010

NOMS -- Apple-Oat Bars

I'm (apparently) busting out the fall/winter comfort food recipes!

Last week, I cooked up a batch of one of my absolute favorite cool season standbys: Spiced Butternut Squash Stew over Couscous. [Obviously, just switch out the chicken broth for veg, and you've got yourself a vegan meal--use quinoa or rice instead of the regular semolina couscous if you also wish to avoid gluten. I like using Israeli coucous or Trader Joe's Harvest Grain Blend (Israeli couscous, baby garbanzos/chickpeas, quinoa, and orzo pasta). If I go with regular couscous, I like to use spinach for the added color. Next batch, I think I'm going to try serving it with red and white quinoa or Trader Joe's Brown Rice Blend (w/daikon radish seeds and black barley).  Given this aside, don't be surprised should it warrant its own post in the near future...]

Last week at the farmer's market, I picked up some cranberry apple cider and some big, locally-grown, Honeycrisp apples, and this week I got some Empire. This, coupled with the crispness in the air and chilly nights, got me thinking about these Apple-Oat Bars.

Ingredient List
Serves 16

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 3 cups peeled, chopped tart apples, such as Granny Smith 
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 9-inch square baking pan, or coat with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Mix flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in mixing bowl. Using fork or fingertips, work in oil and cider until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. 
  3. Press about 1 1/2 cups oat mixture firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Sprinkle with apples. Mix walnuts into remaining oat mixture, sprinkle evenly over apples and pat into even layer.
  4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until top is golden and apples are tender when pierced with a fork. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into bars. 
Nutritional Information
Per SERVING: Calories: 150, Protein: 2g, Total fat: 3g, Saturated fat: g, Carbs: 29g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 100mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugars: 16g

I really like using apple cider (or cranberry apple cider) rather than apple juice, as I find that it has a richer flavor. I am generous with both the cinnamon and the nutmeg (do yourself a favor and buy a nutmeg grater and grate your own--so much better!), and may try adding a bit of ground clove or ginger in the next batch.  I have used many types of apples, none of which have been Granny Smith.  Braeburns are a favorite as they have a nice balance between tart and sweet and they are a nice, hard apple. I also use pecans instead of walnuts, but that is just personal preference.

Two reviewers on the Vegetarian Times website indicated that they found this recipe to be tricky, but I that has not been my experience. I've made them several times, and each time I have the same problem--"16 servings" my butt. :-D You can't just eat one bar if you cut a 9x9 pan into 16 pieces. It's just. Not. Possible.


  1. Just visiting from It Starts With Us! Those look like great autumn recipes! I just printed out the Spiced Butternut Squash Stew with Couscous. I’ll enjoy making the vegan version.

  2. Oh yeah, I'm vegetarian. I don't use any meat/fish/poultry stock. Swap that out, and the recipe is totally vegan. I hope you like it as much as I do! NOM NOM NOM!

  3. And thanks for stopping by! :-)


Why is this place called Rough Branch?

Rough Branch is a reference to Wendell Berry's "mad farmer" poems. Berry is an agrarian populist poet, and advocate for sustainable agricultural practices. I don't agree with every position he takes, but his reverence for the beauty and balance of the natural world, for the preciousness of the life that runs through it (including our own), and of the community that sustains both the land and each other, speaks to my heart.

Over the past few years, I have sunk myself into the soil in my back yard, and into the community of neighbors that surrounds it, and it has begun to restore me. My garden is not just a plot of dirt providing vegetables for the salad bowl, it is an act of love, a place of profundity and awe. If you knew about the ecosystem that lives in but one gram of good earth, you would be humbled, literally, to the ground.

Berry's poems are passionate calls to live--deeply, profoundly, fearlessly. To step out of narrow-minded egotism, to secede "[f]rom the union of self-gratification and self-annihilation, [to] secede into care for one another, and for the good gifts of Heaven and Earth."

And so I have made my own nation small enough to walk across. I have named the small corner of the earth I steward Rough Branch. I have declared myself free of ignorant love, and I secede...

From the union of power and money,
from the union of power and secrecy,
from the union of government and art,
from the union of science and money,
from the union of ambition and ignorance,
from the union of genius and war,
from the union of outer space and inner vacuity,
the Mad Farmer walks quietly away.

There is only one of him, but he goes.
He returns to the small country he calls home,
his own nation small enough to walk across.
(From "The Mad Farmer, Flying the Flag of Rough Branch, Secedes from the Union")
The Mad Farmer challenges us to reconnect, to resurrect our land, our communities, and our souls.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion -- put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
(From "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front")
All quotes from Wendell Berry.