When I was 24 I went to Italy. Never having been to Europe, it was – and still is – a very influential period in my life. I was living and working in northern Canada and doing some much needed soul searching. I’ve always felt I was a bit of a late bloomer in many aspects, and this time of reflection and identity was all mine and I totally owned it. I look back on that time with joy and a ting of jealousy because as painful as it felt at the time, it was so much fun in retrospect.
Back to Italy…my Mum is Italian. Her ancestors come from northern Italy and settled in northern Colorado where she was born. Mama makes a mean ravioli, always on Christmas eve, and it had been an aspiration or hers and mine to one day visit Italy.
So we went. Me, Mum, Dad. We went. It’s probably a good time to mention that my parent’s are the most wonderful travel buddies. We’re annoyingly similar. Plans, schedules, itineraries, evening poring over the next day in the travel guide. Lovely. We arrived in Venice, and spent a day exploring Murano and Burano. I bought a glass dish I still keep on my bedside table for earrings and lingering jewelry. I remember being jet lagged, Western, and hungry, and at about 6:00pm we were ready to tuck in for a meal. We sat in an outdoor piazza and a smart, chic lady, all in black sat near us. It was basically us and her, and she was independent and I was totally transfixed on her. Creep of the year goes to me.
It’s not uncommon for my Dad to pass on recipes he and my Mum have come across. I’ve made these several times now. A batch went to work, a batch was eaten for dinner I’m ashamed to say, a batch had fingers in the uncooked batter, and finally a batch was brewed up as Marcus and I were hosting our friends Gillian and Eric. My Dad first had a taste of these on a hike he and Mum went on in Colorado with my Uncle Mike and Aunt Marji. The story goes Aunt Marji whipped these babies up for the hike, Dad fell in love, the recipe was sought, and once they were home I got my first taste.
I love how flexible the recipe allows you to be. If you like a crispier granola bar, bake it longer. Coconut flakes or raisins or dried cherries or chocolate chips would be delicious. Coconut oil would likely do well in place of the butter. Flax seed would definitely work as a healthy addition. I added a tablespoon or two of honey in one batch and I like the variety of stickiness you can achieve.