Monsieur et Madam Le Peto (Or; how I found out I was not ready for seeds yet)



Joni Mitchell once wrote:

I heard it in the wind last night
It sounded like applause
Did you get a round resounding for you
Way up here?

So beautiful, the sound of the wind; pushing the trees this way and that, whistling past tightly shut windows and doors and reminding us that inside, all is cosy and calm.

Cosy and calm.

Except that last night readers, the wind was inside our house and all was not calm. Anyone of a delicate and lady-like constitution please move on now. Come back tomorrow when the waters have settled, for I am about to reveal that I am not a lady, and lord am I grateful that I'm married.

It goes like this you see; I was idly browsing and came across a post on Granola Bars on Gluten Free For Good. I instantly felt an irrepressible urge to eat something sweet and chewy and rushed into the kitchen to make an SCD approximation of said bars. Melissa, if you're reading, these bars only take the merest whiff of your recipe as I just read it and then did my own thing.

Soon the honey was bubbling on the stove and I was merrily grinding up seeds, chucking in handfuls of chewy coconut shreds and drizzling in precious bourbon vanilla. The mixture was so delicious I almost ate it right there and then. But somehow it found its way into the freezer to chill and firm up before I could cut it into slices and enjoy it properly.

The first slice was great. My teeth sank into the cold, nutty, fudgy bar and encountered enjoyable pieces of juicy, chewy coconut on the way. The major flavour was honey and hazelnut, with a vanilla back note and that rounded creaminess you get from banana and sunflower seeds. Although I tried not to, I managed to return to the freezer twice more that afternoon before finally engaging a little will power and shutting the door for good.

Now you might think to yourself, three little granola bars? What harm could they possibly do? Well let me enlighten you my light hearted friends. They caused my intestines to throw a party in my honour. The sort of party with lots of shouting, party poppers and drunkenness. I read somewhere that a deranged bowel (great description no?) can generate up to 50 times more gas than a healthy one. A healthy bowel generates up to 50ml a day - do the math. Je m'appelle Madame Le Peto.

Now, to make matters worse, Nick had enthusiastically consumed a couple of these bars too on his return home from work. Nick fervently denies having any type of food intolerance, (except potatoes, and oh yes, white bread not so good, and well if we're naming things, how about beans, lentils, cabbage and leeks - and don't get me started on artichokes) but he does lean a little on the windy side and so these bars seemed to have a similar effect on him.

As we sat companionably on the sofa together that evening we were accompanied by our own little brass band. First a high note, then a low one, like bagpuss's magical mouse organ we chirruped and cheeped the night away. Only, I actually find wind quite funny (I know, how childish!), so every time I let one fly I would turn to Nick with a sheepish grin and laugh behind my hand like a girl - making my apologies seem rather disingenuous. Soon even Nick was keeping pace with me though and all bets were off as we peeped and parped the night merrily away.

So I give you this recipe as a sort of digestive challenge. Are you man enough for these delicious, but possibly hazardous creations? I do intend to try them again with slightly less roughage and no seeds. I'll let you know how we get on.....

Grain Free Granola Bars (makes about 12 small fingers)

2oz sunflower seeds
3oz unsweetened coconut shreds (sulphur free)
1oz unsweetened dessicated coconut(sulphur free)
2oz ground almonds
80ml (1/3 cup) runny honey
80ml (1/3 cup ) sunflower seed butter (or other nut butter)
1 medium sized ripe banana
1 heaped dessert spoon hazelnut butter (or any nut butter)
tsp bourbon vanilla extract

Oil a small tray (about 12"x 6") and preheat the oven to 160C.

Grind up sunflower seeds and spread them out on a large flat cookie sheet (not the oiled tray) with both types of coconut. Toast in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the shreds are a light golden brown and set aside for a moment.

mash your banana and stir into it both nut butters, vanilla and ground almonds to make a paste.

Heat the honey gently in a small pan with a tablespoon of water until it reaches boiling point. Turn down to simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until it reaches soft ball stage. To test for soft ball stage, have ready a glass of ice cold water and let a drop of the boiling mixture fall into the water. A moment later, pinch up the drop in the glass to see if it feels like soft toffee that you can then roll into a ball. Too soft? just simmer another minute and test again. Don't turn the honey up high to get it to cook faster - you'll burn it.

When it's ready, take it off the heat, tip the toasted coconut mix into the bowl of mashed banana mix and then pour the hot honey all over it and mix like mad. You have to work fast because as soon as the honey hits the cold ingredients it will start to harden. Turn the mushy mixture into your oiled tray, smooth with a fork and place in the freezer to set. Cut when cold and keep in the freezer or fridge.

These bars don't hold up well out of the fridge - so eat them cold.

Don't say I didn't warn you though. Have the charcoal pants standing at the ready.