It’s all about the authentic with the Baillieul family and that includes their “power bars.”
Mom Rachel Tayse Baillieul explained, “We’re going to make what we call ‘real food power bars’” as she, husband Alex and their 6 1/2 –year-old daughter Lillian arrived at City Folk’s Farm Shop in Clintonville one Sunday afternoon. Rachel has been working with shop owner Shawn Fiegelist to develop food-preparation classes that will appeal to customers of the “urban farming and homesteading” store that just opened this spring.
Fiegelist and the Baillieuls are experts when it comes to making their urban yards and homes sources of food and “authentic living,” as Rachel described it.
“We have a teeny, teeny, tiny yard filled with edibles and one chicken,” Rachel said of her own Clintonville home. Lillian supplied a perfect impersonation of their chicken’s soft clucking and explained that the Australorp-breed fowl delivers one egg a day.
Rachel also has become an expert at drying and preserving foods, and she often blogs about her culinary adventures on her website, houndsinthekitchen.com.
Today’s agenda, however, is creating Real Power Bars, mostly out of dried fruits and using a food processor.
“What’s the first step in cooking?” Rachel asked Lillian.
“Not playing with knives,” Lillian observed solemnly before her mother reminded her that washing her hands also is necessary.
Clean hands at the ready, they made their way through the fruit dicing (by Rachel), processing (Rachel and Lillian), and then mixture shaping (mostly Lillian). Rachel, who also homeschools Lillian, quietly pointed out various “teaching moments” as they worked together: asking Lillian for synonyms for “smooshing” the ingredients into the food processor’s workbowl (“packing” and “compacting” were some of Lillian’s suggestions) and introducing the concept of adding fractions when they realized the recipe needed two 1/4-cups of dates instead of the one 1/4-cup they had planned.
“It’s very easy to use food as a basis for a lot of the learning we do,” Rachel said.
*1/2 cup dates, sliced open and cut into small squares or strips
*1/4 dried apples, each slice cut into 2-3 pieces
*3/4 cup pecans (unsalted)
*dash of ground cinnamon
*optional: other tasty ingredients can include cocoa powder, sunflower seeds (a great substitute for anyone with nut allergies), coconut flakes, orange or lemon zest
1. Grown-up: Do the slicing and dicing of fruit with a sharp knife.
2. Kid: As each ingredient is prepared, add to the food processor’s workbowl.
3. Grown-up: Cover the food processor’s workbowl and give it the first, loud pulses.
4. Kid: Once the pulsing isn’t too loud, take over on the pulsing until the ingredients are reduced to a moldable mix of small pieces. If the mixture isn’t sticky enough, add some more dates or raisins.
5. Grown-up: Empty the mixture onto a flat, clean surface.
6. Kid: Knead the mixture together, then shape small handfuls of the mixture into interesting shapes (balls, hearts and stars were some of Lillian’s favorites; cookie cutters whose interior has been greased lightly can also yield interesting shapes). If feeling generous, let the grown-up shape a few, too. The Real Power Bars can be eaten right away or wrapped individually in wax paper or plastic and refrigerated. They transport well for a day-trip snack since the high natural-sugar content helps prevent them from “going bad.”