Friday Fun (….on a Saturday) and Vegan Chocolate Chip – Coconut – Peanut Butter Bars, a/k/a Beach Bars

I had a lot of fun stuff to blog about Friday, but I had a gig last night (which was part of the fun) and was too tired to blog when I got home. I think I’m going to start a ‘Friday Fun’ series, sort of like the ‘Thursday Things’ series I see some bloggers do.

But before the fun begins……15 mile run this morning! Woo-hoo! All while listening to the Brahms requiem (twice). I set out to do 11 or 12 miles, but I took a  wrong turn, which turned out to be a beautiful, peaceful, wonderful wrong turn. I’m always happy to increase miles, and this morning’s run was one of the best in recent memory. I did not see a single other runner (normal for here) and very few other people in general. I ran mostly on roads going through farmland. Some time I need to bring my camera with me and take some pictures, because there really is some beautiful countryside here. I love when cows stop grazing to stare at me as I run by, which happens pretty frequently. I also love running by old, falling-down farmhouses/barns….people in the South seem to leave old buildings up even when the buildings are far past repair. I’m sure it’s dangerous to do so, but the buildings are so neat to look at, and it’s fun to imagine how they were used.

The beautiful part of the run was the wrong turn I took, which took me through Mennonite farm country. We have a decent-sized Mennonite population here, and the part of the county in which they live really looks like Pennslyvania. It is hilly, and there are hay bales, and big, open farms with grazing cattle. It was a little sad to realize that all the cattle will be used for meat, but it is beautiful country to run through.

On to the Friday Fun! I was off yesterday, but instead of our normal library-coffee-shop-playground walk, we just walked to the playground. Before that, though, I went to the estate sale of a home down the street from us. I was hoping to find a real coffee maker, which I did not find, but I found a beautiful serving plate (2 bucks!) and a set of 8 blue-and-white candle holders for my mother-in-law. The house is an old arts and crafts style home, and I had always wanted to see inside, so it was neat to be able to. The platter is really cute; I rarely get into plates and such, but I thought it was pretty. As it turns out, it matches the tablecloth we use! Hooray.

The plate is actually a fairly dark green, but it is sunny out today so it looks lighter

I got all 8 of these for 4 bucks! Not bad!

We then went to the playground (an inmate had escaped and was reportedly fleeing near the library, so that cut our walk short! And yes, as a defense attorney I end up knowing about these things more than I really want to) and had a late afternoon playdate; then I went to play at a community college graduation while my husband played at a wedding rehearsal. That meant the girls got to take dinner in their brand-new bento boxes to the neighbor’s house……exciting times for toddlers! They loved eating dinner there, and they loooooove the bento boxes. I was getting tired of packing their lunches in tiny little containers, so I love the new bento boxes too!

I made these cookie bars a few weeks ago when my book club took a weekend trip to one of the barrier islands. I thought they were good, but my book club went crazy for them. I made them again a few days ago to perfect the recipe. Again, I think they’re good but not great, but everyone else who tries them looooves them. The coconut milk trick is borrowed from Averie over at www.loveveggiesandyoga.com, who has a lot of recipes involving ‘flooding’ bars with sweetened condensed milk. My bars aren’t as gooey as hers, but I bet they would be with more coconut milk. A cup is all I had on hand, but a full can would probably produce more gooiness. Her bars always love beautiful. I tried making vegan sweetened condensed milk once, using coconut milk, corn syrup, and some other stuff, but it did not work. Oh well. Straight coconut milk is yummy and better for you, right?

I’ve named them Beach Bars in honor of our book group’s trip to the beach.

1 stick Earth Balance or other vegan margarine (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons almond milk, or soy milk, or whatever

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

about 1 cup chocolate chips

about 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, or more chips

1 cup coconut milk

Method:

cream margarine and peanut butter; cream in brown sugar. Mix in vanilla, salt, and almond milk; mix until well combined. Add in flour, salt, and baking soda to combine. Dough will be fairly stiff. Press into a 9 x 13. Sprinkle chips and coconut on top. Pour coconut milk on top of chips. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.

My lil’ old point-and-shoot camera is not so good for close-ups of food. Oh well.

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