I spent three weeks of late January and early February in São Paulo, Brazil, with Ana, my exchange sister who spent the previous school year living in a room across the hall from mine. Despite flying back to Ecuador just before the start of Carnaval and missing the festivities, I had an incredible time. Visiting at the same time was Renata (from Argentina) who also participated in exchange last year and lived a few towns away. We partied some, saw some sights, ate some food, ya know, all the fun stuff that you travel for.
The day after I arrived back in Quito I switched host families (part of the rules of my exchange organization). I was worried, (duh, who isn’t when you move in with people you’ve never met before for the next four months?) but couldn’t be happier with the switch. Living here has made me realize how much I depend on wide open green spaces, forests, beaches, and fresh air to feel like myself. I still live in the city, but the western length of Quito climbs the slopes of Pichincha (mountain after which the state is named) until it isn’t feasible to build any higher. As I’m now living bordering the trees of a national park, I still get to enjoy all the benefits of living in the city without feeling stifled by it.
For as far back as I can remember, I adored Reese’s peanut butter cups. Whenever my parents stopped at 7/11 on the way home to pick up milk or juice, my sisters and I would run in to get one each of the baby cups wrapped individually in foil (the larger ones in the orange plastic packaging were reserved for special occasions). I no longer eat Reese’s (not vegan, duh), but peanut butter and chocolate (and cookie dough) will always be my favorite flavor combination.
The inspiration for these bars came when my younger sister called one night during vacation; she was making granola bars from scratch without a recipe and wanted suggestions (because messing around in the kitchen is usually more my thing). Hers turned out amazing, she told me (but chewy, and who likes chewy?) and I thought it sounded like a nice idea.
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup instant oats
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/3 cup chopped almonds
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup finely chopped dark chocolate
- 1/4 cup liquid sweetener
- 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and form into a ball. Now, preheat oven to 150 C/ 300 F and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Cover a countertop or cutting board with wax paper, place the ball of dough in the middle, and cover with another sheet of wax paper. First flatten the dough using the heels of your hands, then a rolling pin until it’s 1/4“ thick. Removing the top layer of wax paper, slice the dough vertically into strips 2” wide. Trim the uneven edges and slice the strips into your desired length (mine were approximately 4”, I sliced the strips in half horizontally). Using a spatula, carefully place the bars onto the baking tray. Now take the scraps from the trimmed edges, roll into a ball, and repeat. After all bars are on the tray, bake for 10 minutes. Let cool on the tray for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a plate WITH A SPATULA because the bars are still not fully cooled and may break if you use your hands. Makes approx. 9 bars.
I know updates have been scarce for the past few months (see, I have this affliction known as laziness. It’s very common amongst teenagers, you yourself may have suffered from it) but I’m planning on trying to update once a week again.