in full swing

summer's upon us now and while this weather would be much more becoming in, say, bermuda, i'm enjoying taking advantage of all the perks of hot, sticky days- like ice cream. if you're in brooklyn, you should check out a new place in prospect heights called blue marble. the sweet-tart strawberry flavor deserves its endearing name.

in the past month, i've discovered my love of flowers, re-painted a room, learned how to sew, and planted what probably amounts to a jungle of tomatoes on my fire escape. a productive month, i suppose, but it somehow it still feels on the precipice of something. there are only a few more days to go, so we'll see what they bring.

in the meantime, in addition to these lovely flowers, i wanted to share with you one of my newest little secrets. i've made mention of my dislike of breakfast before, but this spring it was getting dire. often, i would not eat anything until lunchtime, which obv. didn't bode well for my poor co-workers who asked me anything before noon. in search of a palatable breakfast that involved minimal work and was marginally healthy, i stumbled upon this NPR article with nigella lawson. in addition to the avocado bruschetta, she describes the most ingenious breakfast idea-homemade granola bars. since, grace and i have made these practically every week- each time a little bit differently. in addition, poor planning on my part led to an accidental wonderful discovery- the original recipe is much improved if you use granola instead of oats.

if you, like i, need a little help getting into the full swing of your day, having a homemade breakfast bar studded with dried fruit jewels will most definitely give you a hearty push.

breakfast bars, adapted from nigella lawson

1 can condensed milk
2 1/2 cups granola
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup dried fruit (i usually use cranberries or cherries, but what about pineapple?!)
1 cup mixed seeds (i usually use flax seeds, pumpkin and sunflower)
1 cup nuts (slivered almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, walnuts are all good)

preheat the oven to 250 degrees and spray oil a 9- x 13-inch baking pan. warm the condensed milk in a pan. meanwhile, mix all the other ingredients together and add the warmed condensed milk, using a rubber spatula to fold and distribute. spread the mixture into the oiled pan and press down with a spatula or, better still, your hands (they will get really, really sticky!) to make the surface even. bake for 1 hour, remove, and after about 15 minutes, cut into four across and four down, to make 16 bars. when cool, these keep for a week and a half and are amazing.

condensed milk: $2.50
granola: $3.50
coconut: $1.50
dried fruit: $3.50
nuts: $3.00
seeds: $3.00

total: $17.00
okay, so it is a little expensive, but when you consider you get 16 bars out of this, it amounts to a little over a dollar a bar. this is about 40 cents more than what you'd pay at the grocery for a bar that's probably 2/3's bigger and much, much tastier. i'd say it's worth it.

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