The one in which I prove my inability to take a photo or follow a recipe

Yes, it's a recipe post. Look, if you're looking for controversy or humour, peruse some of my old posts, like this one or this one. Or read my column on Wednesday. For the controversy, not the humour. Pretty sure I will be flamed in the comments on that one *a gleeful smile crosses my face*

Meanwhile, here's the thing about me and recipes. I don't follow them. That's all you really need to know. They're rules of thumb only to me - giving the appropriate ratio of liquid to dry, baking powder to flour. And they give me ideas sometimes.

I also don't measure much. I'm pretty much a lackadaisical cook. I see it as an art, not a science, albeit an art in which if you are inclined to measure you can teach your child some awesome math skills. Kinda like woodworking.


Here's what I made:

Looks horrible, doesn't it? Well it wasn't. They tasted much better than they looked. And this photo is wretched. I desperately need a new camera as I can't actually adjust this one at all. Been dropped one too many times by grabby little hands.

I sent 24 of them into my son's classroom of 12 kids (and I think one was out sick) on a day when they were bombarded with treats (it was apple day and parents were asked to make apple treats for the kids to eat) and only four came home. Now mind, I've made cupcakes and had more come home than that.

They are Zucchini, Carrot, Apple Spice Bars (Harrison knows they had zucchini and carrot in them, but I advised him not to share such information with his friends.

If you want to know where they came from or find an actual recipe to follow, they are loosely based upon this Rice Krispies recipe. I'm pretty sure they had an actual food photographer take that photo, though.

I didn't use Rice Krispies, though, as we tend not to have processed cereals in the house (you do realise that you can cook oatmeal in the microwave in less than a minute, right?)

Here's what I did use:
  • About a 2 inch piece of large zucchini
  • 1 medium carrot - cleaned but not peeled
  • 1 medium apple - peeled and cored
  • About 3/4 cup of oatmeal
  • 1 heaping cup of Best for Bread Multi-grain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice(I didn't measure the spices, just you know skake-a, shake-a till it smells right)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (yeah, I know they say don't bake with olive oil. "They" say lots of stuff I don't listen to)
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Approx 1/2 cup white chocolate chips and 1 tsp olive oil (I recommend trying butterscotch chips, though, white chocolate is what I had)

You'll need a food processor or blender (tho I suppose a mortar and pestle and a handheld grater would work); a large baking dish - mine was 13X9; a handheld mixer or mixmaster; and your usual paraphernalia of bowls and measuring devices.

Preheat oven to 350.

So first take your oatmeal, dump it in the food processor or blender and pulse till it's fine grit. Measure. You should have about 1/2 cup. If not, do some more. If it's a bit over don't worry about it.

In a large bowl, mix the pulverised oatmeal with the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.

Cut the zucchini into smaller pieces and chop in the food processor or blender (or if you feel like dirtying up the grater blade you can grate it, but I just use the chopping blade and chop fine.) Dump into 2 cup liquid measuring cup. It should approach the 1/2 cup mark. If it's much less, chop some more. It it's a tad off, don't worry. Repeat with the carrot and apple. You should end up with approximately 1/2 cup of each.

In a medium bowl, whip the egg whites, toss in the oil, brown sugar and vanilla and mix well. Throw in the chopped vegetables and apple. Mix well.

Dump this into the flour mixture. Stir as little as possible until just combined. The secret to not ending up with flat, dunchy baked goods when using whole grain flours and/or vegetables is not to overstir when adding flour.

Spoon into greased pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (or you can be more like me and run around the kitchen half shouting-half muttering "why don't I every buy toothpicks" and "what has he done with the bamboo skewers" until eventually finding a longish matchstick to poke in there. Uncooked spaghetti works as well)

Place pan on wire rack and let cool.

Meanwhile, pour the baking chips and oil into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for one minute, continue microwaving in 30 second intervals - whisking after each interval - until fully melted. Drizzle over bars. Cut and serve.

Take a better picture than me.


  1. Dara, darling, wtf is that pictures of? I can't work it out. It looks like you've dropped cake mixture on the a tiled floor!

    but hey, as long as the kids liked them eh? ;)

  2. Heather, Thats what I though but i looked again and i think it might be baking parchment on a wire rack?

  3. But there's no chocolate in this! It's remarkably healthy! That's no good to me! My sweet tooth is crying out for sustenance!

  4. @Heather, Darling, come on I admitted the picture was crap. Maybe if you sent me my camera I could do better. I've given up taking anything decent with this one - it's stuck flash on and auto-focus.
    @MissSearles: Close, it's 2 squares in a glass baking dish resting on our tiled kitchen counter. I had a cloth underneath so the counter wouldn't show through but with the flash stuck on the cloth turned into a glowing green ghost gobbling the squares.
    Trust me, this is the best of ten photos. Next person who complains about my photo-taking skills will be responsible for sending me a new camera.

  5. Steve my love, be a little experimental. Eliminate the nutmeg, just do cinnamon and ginger and make the flour 1 skimmed cup. Add 1/4 cup cocoa, throw in some milk chocolate chips - about 1/2 cup. Add an egg yolk with the egg whites. Drizzle with dark chocolate.
    I made a whole wheat zucchini chocolate cake last night you might appreciate.
    Or, if you don't trust my on-the-spot improvusation, go check my recipe for Can't Be Beet Chocolate Muffins. http://www.readilyaparent.com/2010/02/cant-be-beet-semi-sinless-double.html

  6. I think it's a great photo, looks very appetising.
    I'm also deliriously tired and have no desire to send you a new camera.


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