Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Fig Bars

Every year, our wonderful neighbors bring us bags and bags of fresh figs. They are kind enough to pick them for us, despite not really eating them themselves, simply because they know how much we love them. (Yes, I do know how lucky we are to have such awesome neighbors.)

Typically, we dehydrate some of the figs and then turn the rest of the fresh ones into fruit leather for the girls. This year, the fig trees were even more generous than usual and we had enough that I was able to experiment with a few recipes, as well as forcing all of my coworkers to try at least one “No, thank you” bite each of a fig. I was surprised at how many people have never tried a fresh fig, but maybe that’s not really all that crazy.

One thing I made with the figs was a big batch of Fig Jam from Food & Wine; it turned out really well and I think we’ll have no issues using it up within the recommended three months.

Next I wanted to try making some sort of fig cookie or fig bar, but all of the recipes I searched either called for dried figs or used obscene quantities of sugar. So I decided to adapt a recipe for chocolate oatmeal bars that looked decent and make my own Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Fig Bars. This is the first incarnation of this recipe but I think it turned out pretty darn good and I will most likely be making it again very soon, with a maybe one or two tweaks that are outlined after the recipe.

Fig Bars 1

I’m obviously not a food photographer, but I think these still look delicious

Fig Bars 2

LB and BIT thought the bars were very, very yummy

So here’s my recipe for Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Fig Bars:

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used coconut oil but I think vegetable would be fine, too)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 4 oz dark chocolate chips
  • 1 heaping cup of chopped fresh figs

How To Make:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9×13 baking pan with aluminum foil with an overhang and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Put first 10 ingredients (everything but figs and chocolate chips) into a big bowl. Using a hand held mixer or a big spoon, mix up a stiff batter. Fold in chips and figs.
  3. Press the batter into your prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until done. You don’t want them to be dry as a bone; a little moistness on a knife when you test it isn’t a bad thing.
  4. Using the foil, remove bars from pan. Let cool before cutting into squares.

Notes from yesterday: I used an 8 x 11.5 inch pan so my bars were very thick and took about 30 minutes to cook. But I think they will be better if they are made in a bigger pan and are thus thinner (which is what the original non-fig recipe called for). Also, I only used 1/2 cup packed brown sugar but I felt like the oatmeal/flour batter was a little underwhelming and only elevated to awesomeness by the chocolate and figs. 3/4 cup of sugar is still less than originally called for and will make a more delicious batter. And I think that if you don’t have fresh figs, cherries would be amazing. That may actually be the next thing I try.

Let me know what you guys think!

3rd Pregnancy Update – Almost 32 weeks

I’ve realized something that everyone else has probably known forever – the more kids you have, the less free time you have to contemplate your current pregnancy. I remember when I was pregnant with the Littlest Brewster and I had all the time in the world to sit and contemplate the miracle occurring inside me. Even with BIT, I had opportunities to really focus on and prepare for the arrival of our second child.

Honestly, there are times with this pregnancy that I forget I’m pregnant. And I’m not lying. It completely slips my mind, particularly on the days that I’m feeling really good. Until I accidentally whack the belly into something or try to bend down and pick something up and I’m like, “Oh wait! I’m almost 32 weeks pregnant!” We have done absolutely nothing to prepare for the arrival of Wally. (Well, technically you can count moving BIT to a big girl bed and freeing up the crib as preparation, if you discount the fact that we then promptly turned the crib into a spot for storing spare linens.)

My big goal for the next two weeks is to make some serious strides on clearing the extra junk out of the bonus room (aka Wally’s room) and figuring out a place to put the things that he/she is going to need, like clothes and diapers. (On a side note, a coworker asked me in all earnestness what theme we were going with for the nursery. I wanted to laugh but I managed to restrain myself.) I also want to get out all of the bottles, etc and see what parts are still good and what parts need to be replaced. I feel like that is doable, right?

Other than being forgotten, how is this pregnancy going? Well, I’ve had lots of good days but there have also been some serious trials and tribulations over the last 4-ish weeks. Not necessarily pregnancy related, but when they have come one after the other and my reserves are low from being very pregnant, it’s been a little rough.

First I nearly sliced off the end of my pinky finger with our mandoline. Now, with my platelets already low due to pregnancy, it took nearly 2 hours for the bleeding to stop when I did it. (I really needed stitches but refused to go to the ER out of stubbornness, which I’m sure will surprise absolutely no one.) Then I had one of docs at work check it out the next day, who insisted I go to our work ER anyway which took forever and essentially ended up in them doing nothing but slapping some steri-strips on it, giving me a Tdap, and sending me on way with Keflex. However, I then started to get a granuloma at the laceration site, prompting a visit to a hand specialist to have that burned off. All in all, it was nearly 2 weeks of pain and irritation dealing with this nonsense, all because I didn’t use the safety guard for the first time ever . 

Then I got this weird blistering rash on my left hand and arm that no one at my OB’s office could figure out. The 3rd doctor to give an opinion on it decided that he thought it was a strange presentation of shingles, wrote me a prescription for Valtrex, and sent me on my way. After I’ve already informed work that I’ll be out for a few days (immunocompromised patients + active shingles = very, very bad combination), the OB calls and suggests I swing by the dermatologist to have a section scraped and microscopically examined. Which was painful but at least had the happy result of confirming I didn’t have shingles but instead was having a very bad case of contact dermatitis from poison ivy. Never mind that I have absolutely no clue where or when I could have possibly came into contact with poison ivy, but at least I didn’t have to take days and days of work. I declined the prescription for steroids, even if it would have cleared up the rash more quickly because I just didn’t feel like adding another pill to the mix.

Then I started having some back pain and thought I had pulled something, but that apparently was just the warning sign that I was about to come down with a raging UTI. Over the course of a day at work, I went from feeling a little off to thinking that I was going to die with back pain and lower abdominal cramps. Luckily, I was able to get checked out by our lab and call my OB to let them know that I did indeed have a UTI and they were able to call in yet another prescription for antibiotics.

Two days after starting my antibiotics, I’m feeling like a new woman, thinking all the bad stuff is behind me. And then I actually do pull a muscle in my back, rather badly.

So I’ve spent the last two days hobbling around and feeling very sorry for myself, something I typically try not to do but it’s been a rough month.

But I’m doing my best to be optimistic that this rough patch is almost over and the rest of the pregnancy is going to be smooth sailing.

On that note of sunshine, here’s the most recent belly picture:

31.5 weeks

31.5 weeks

For comparison, here are pics of me at the same point with LB & BIT –

32 weeks with BIT

32 weeks with BIT

32 weeks with LB

32 weeks with LB

I had sort of felt like I was carrying exactly the same with this pregnancy, leading me to feel like this is probably another girl but comparing pictures makes me think that maybe I am carrying differently after all. But it could be that, as I’ve explained to DB, my abdominal area is like a hammock that’s been sat in repeatedly and that could the reason it looks different this time. Not that I really think I’ll be able to tell before October what we’re having, it’s just fun to speculate.

If I actually remember that I’m pregnant, look for another update in a couple of weeks to see if things really do get better.

Annual Myrtle Beach Trip

We just got back from our annual Myrtle Beach trip – I was mistaken when I told some of my coworkers that it was my family’s 30th year going to Cherry Grove for a week in August. Turns out that it’s our 32nd year going. Which is pretty crazy.

I think it’s absolutely awesome that my siblings and I make such an effort to schlep our families to Sea Marsh I every August – especially since Jessie and John bring their three little ones across the whole country to come and spend some time with the extended clan. We only have a three hour drive, which sometimes seems like a journey of 1000 miles given the “supplies” we need to pack for said journey.

I put together some of my favorite pictures from the week (which admittedly feature my kids the most but we all know I’m biased…).

First up – sporting brand new shades courtesy of Buppa and Grandma Kathy. Unfortunately, they were a little too big for BIT but she loved them anyway.

Myrtle Beach 2016 (12)

In an attempt to keep my early birds from waking up all of the other kids (and thus incurring the wrath of my siblings and their spouses), we joined Grandma Kathy and Buppa every morning on the beach around 6:05 to watch the sunrise. This also gave me the opportunity to have a cup of coffee in relative peace as the girls ran around like idiots on the deserted beach.

Myrtle Beach 2016 (8)

It also let me get some pretty awesome pictures of the sunrise/beach in the morning.
Myrtle Beach 2016 (7)

And it let LB and BIT do some extra exploring of the seashore, including investigating some dead jellyfish. We decided they felt like giant boogers. Myrtle Beach 2016 (9) One of my patients said, “I guess you won’t be wearing a bikini this year, huh?” And I was like, “Why not!?!?” If you think that I am going to cram myself into a maternity tent bathing suit when I am 7 months pregnant and even hotter than usual, you are out of your mind. I rocked the baby bump. Myrtle Beach 2016 (3) Jessie and I got to enjoy a much needed girls’ night out. It’s always good to spend time with my BFF. Myrtle Beach 2016 (13) Buppa was infinitely patient when it came to being crawled upon and pummeled by small fists, all in the name of “play.” Far more so than I ever am. Myrtle Beach 2016 (11) Story time with my kiddos and Jessie’s clan. Baby Brother (as her kids call him) is too cute! Myrtle Beach 2016 (10)For once, we got a reasonably decent family picture where everyone is looking at the camera and no one is actively grimacing.
Myrtle Beach 2016 (5) One of my favorite pictures of the week. I wish I had been able to take it with my camera instead of my phone but oh well. Myrtle Beach 2016 (4) For our last night, we took our clan out for dinner by the water. It was hot but fun. The girls loved watching the bridge open and close for big boats. Myrtle Beach 2016 (2) Myrtle Beach 2016 (1)

And my absolute favorite picture of the whole week, also courtesy of a 5:45 wake up time –

L & M

I have a code for a free big print from Shutterfly and I can’t wait to get it and get this framed.🙂

Every year, we have such a good time (even with the minor – okay, major – annoyances of children not listening and not napping and not eating their dinners like good little girls and boys) that I can’t wait until next August. I love love love that my kids are getting to grow up at the same beach I grew up on. If only they still had the lemon ice lady parading up and down the beach, it would be perfect.

Preserving the harvest

This is actually just a braggy post to show off some of the ways the DreadBrewer and I have been working to preserve – or even just use up quickly – the abundant harvest from our garden.

I am so pleased with our pressure cooker – it’s not exactly fast but it’s so nice to be able to can things from the garden that we couldn’t previously preserve. In addition to the green beans we canned last weekend, we made up a batch of 6 pints of caramelized carrots this weekend.

Productive 7.17.16

Also pictured is a quadruple batch of our pesto (which we freeze, rather than heat process) and a batch of banana walnut muffins for the week (which we didn’t grow, but I’m proud of our productivity regardless).

July.17.16.2

The girls had a good time watching me and DB work like dogs in the kitchen while they enjoyed a leisurely dinner.

I also made an enormous batch of my world-famous salsa, which means we are no longer drowning in tomatoes, merely keeping our heads above water… barely…

img_0643

And in a fit of adventurousness, we decided that we would try making a batch of okra pickles. “Everyone” says that even people who don’t care for okra like okra pickles. For these, we used a hot water bath to process them, as pickles don’t typically need pressure processing.

Okra 7.2016

It irritates me to no end that it seems like we pack our jars so full that they couldn’t possibly hold another okra or carrot or green bean and then, after processing, the veg floats up to the top and there is, like, another inch or two of space that we could’ve used. Any suggestions on how to avoid the dreaded dead space?

Next weekend I think we’re going to try our hands at canning tomatoes and beets. So it’s a good thing we’re going to work tomorrow, because I think we’ll both need a few days to recoup our strength.

Pregnancy #3 update – 26 weeks

As crazy as it may seem, I actually leave 2nd trimester behind and officially begin the home stretch (sort of) of this pregnancy next week. Where has the time gone? I feel like my first pregnancy dragged on and lasted forever and I feel like this one has gone in the blink of an eye. Perhaps because I have so much less free time and energy to simply sit and contemplate the miracle of life in my belly.

Things are going fairly well. No I lie. Things are going great – I feel like I am markedly less tired with this pregnancy than I was with BIT, but I don’t know if that’s true or if my standards and expectations were that much lower this go round. Either way, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Additionally, I don’t feel like my heartburn has been as bad this time either – but I started taking Zantac in the morning and at night really, really early on in the pregnancy so maybe I just managed to get ahead of it before it got awful. Otherwise this experience has been very similar to my last two, making me wonder if it means that we’re having another girl. Which actually brings me to the most annoying thing about this pregnancy EVER.

We have two girls and I’m pregnant again – therefore, at least according to 90% of the people I’ve encountered, we’re obviously trying for a boy. Because who could possibly be happy with a family of only daughters? And when I tell them that we don’t care whether we have a son or a daughter, they don’t believe me. I’ve actually had people accuse me of lying. One person said outright, “Well, you may not care but I’m sure your husband wants his son.” What the ever-loving-hell?!?! How dare you assume that my family is less than ideal because we only have daughters? How dare you assume that there are things that you can only accomplish with a son, with the possible exception of teaching your progeny to write his name in the snow with urine? How dare you imply that girls are somehow less worthwhile, that they are less valuable members of a family – and by extension – imply that I, as a woman, must have been a disappointment to my parents? On the flip side, I know that people who have only sons get the same crap thrown in their faces – “Aren’t you going to try for a girl? Don’t you want a daughter??” It is ridiculous. Why does anyone feel like they have the right to comment on the potential sex of my unborn baby? The only people who have the right to an opinion on whether we’re having a boy or a girl are me and my husband, and to a lesser extent, my other children. And even then – we don’t have an opinion. We are blessed to be able to have another child. Either sex child will be greeted with love and joy. Period. End of discussion. So stop acting like I’m a liar when I tell you I don’t care.

Okay. End of rant. Can you tell that this gets me exceedingly riled up? If it’s been a bad day and someone has the stupidity and misfortune to broach the subject of Wally’s possible lack of male genitalia, I’m liable to let them have it with both barrels. Though I do make an effort to be more diplomatic when the offender is one of my patients, as difficult as that is for me.

Honestly, there is one other thing about this pregnancy that is annoying, though not nearly as fury provoking as the stupidity of other people. I’m struggling with… the Frankenvein.

Frankenvein

The Frankenvein

This picture doesn’t even do the Frankenvein justice by fully conveying the bulge-y-ness, the squishy-ness that is my crazy leg vein. The kids have a really annoying tendency to come up behind me and poke it, because it is so bulgy and squishy and grotesque. I’ve also got some pretty wicked spider veins going on, primarily below the knees. The ones in my feet are the worst because they hurt – they feel like they’re on fire and ache if I’m not wearing my compression hose. I asked my OB about the Frankenvein and about all my other spider veins at my last visit and was told that after I’ve had the baby and lost all the baby weight, they’ll refer me to a vein specialist and they may be able to do something about them at that point. I guess my career as a leg model is over, however.

Spider Veins 2

Notice DB photo-bombing my vein picture with his own foot

As a result of the achiness and burning sensation, I’ve resorted to wearing my compression hose – even with shorts – if we’re doing anything where I’ll be on my feet for an extended period of time. (With the exception of working in the garden, as it is entirely too hot to wear compression socks in July in North Carolina.) I almost look forward to work because I get to wear my comfiest Danskos and my compression hose and my feet and legs don’t actually ache. Though getting the darn things on and off is getting to be a Herculean task that may soon require the assistance of the DreadBrewer….

I'm too sexy for my socks

I’m too sexy for my socks

Weight gain is going well; I’m up about 10 lbs so far, which isn’t awful for 26 weeks. I’m focusing (mostly) on making healthy choices. I had to repeat my glucose screen last week and my level came back totally fine, so that’s a relief. Actually, my level came back at 67, which was low and proves to the skeptical nurse practitioner once and for all that I don’t have gestational diabetes and I am perfectly capable of growing big babies on my own.

And here’s the belly picture for this update:

26 weeks

26 weeks

I’ve had people tell me that I’m getting big. I’ve had people tell me that there’s no way I’m 6 months pregnant because I’m so small. Which leads me to the conclude that the only person who’s opinion matters is mine and I feel like I look pretty darn good, if a little big and with crazy leg veins.