If you’re a person who aspires to making the world a better place, doing good, not harm, then you’ll be having a hard time stomaching what’s going on south of the border right now. It sinks you soooooo low, makes you feel angry, astounded, outraged, depressed, and, as a Canadian, powerless to do anything about it apart from wearing a pink pussy hat and marching on the street. Which, in Ottawa, was fantastic, by the way.
So for mental health purposes, what do you do? You take a Donald Trump-free day, hop in the car, pick up Mom and sister Doritt, and head for the country, Mom with her sketch pad because she painted watercolours all her life and, at almost 91, isn’t about to stop, and you with your camera, because taking pictures is your favourite thing these days and there’s a beautiful dusting of snow on the trees. Doritt, she provides excellent company and a loving vibe. And you head up the Ottawa Valley past Pakenham and drive down country roads you never noticed before, getting lost and not caring, and it’s hilly and gorgeous and you feel a little better by the time you get back to the TV and CNN coverage of the latest poison heaped upon the people of the United States and beyond.
All of which has nothing to do with these Peanut Butter Crispy Brown Rice Bars, but I needed to get that off my chest, as I’m sure all thinking, caring people the world over need to express their despair. As you know, there comes a time on any day when you need a little pick-me-up to revive your flagging energy and get you through to the next meal. These treats, from Whole Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon, are just the thing, a healthier version of the iconic squares made of puffed white rice and melted marshmallows that children (and adults) devour at birthday parties and other events.
A few pointers: Look for unsweetened brown rice cereal, and peanut butter that has not been hydrogenated and does not contain added sugar. If the only crispy brown rice cereal you can find has added sweetener, then cut back on the honey or brown rice syrup. Also, if your natural peanut butter has separated – oil at the top, a hard mass of ground peanuts below – then dump the entire jar into a bowl and whisk it back to a creamy consistency before proceeding with the recipe. After these squares had had their picture taken for this blog, I cut them up, wrapped them individually in plastic wrap, and put them in the freezer. A few got eaten on our road trip, no surprise.
- 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing the pan
- ¾ cup (180 mL) honey
- ¾ cup (180 mL brown rice syrup
- 1½ cups (360 mL) unsweetened peanut butter
- ½ cup (60 g) sesame seeds, toasted
- 6 cups (100 g) unsweetened crispy brown rice cereal
- 1 cup (140 g) chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and set aside. In a saucepan, combine the butter, honey, brown rice syrup, and peanut butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed and combined.
- In a very large bowl, combine the sesame seeds, cereal, peanuts, and salt. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and, using the back of a spatula, press to create a nice, even layer. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting into bars in the pan. Cover and store at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.