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the one i first loved

March 17 2010 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Uncategorized » 33 comments

Blueberry-Oat Bars

I started to love grocery shopping at a young age.  Too young an age, perhaps, but I was always doing that—wearing shoulder-padded blazers in the fifth grade, lining up an after-school job at a law firm at the tender age of 15, offering to balance my mom’s checkbook and requesting my own savings account well before I could drive.  (If you think I sound like the female version of young Alex P. Keaton, you’re not the first to do so.  For the record, though, I opted for backpacks over briefcases and, even back then, I surely was not a Reaganite.)

Blueberry-Oat BarsBlueberry-Oat Bars

But back to my premature love affair with grocery shopping.  I think it most likely began with the candy display stationed in the check-out aisles of most stores.  If running errands with my mother involved a pack of gum or a bag of Skittles, I was so in.  (Similarly, I could not resist the siren song of the drive-through teller tubes at the bank; again, so in.)  That can’t be the only explanation, though, because as I grew up, the allure of sugar-free gum waned and, even still, I loved those grocery store trips.  Maybe it was because I faded in and out of picky-eating stages and my physical presence in the store ensured that I would have some measure of control over what did (or didn’t) go into the cart.  Or, perhaps it was the lists.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I have an unhealthy love for lists—for making them and, especially, for methodically working my through them, crossing out items one-by-one, with a swift swipe of the pen.  And grocery lists are a particularly wonderful type of list—organized to track the organization of the store (please tell me I’m not the only one who does this), items checked off as quickly as I can pull them from the shelves.

Blueberry-Oat BarsBlueberry-Oat Bars

Perhaps more powerfully, though, it was the company.  Grocery shopping seemed to be an unpopular task in our busy family—it was not the sort of thing we’d do en masse.  Instead, either my mom or my stepdad would dash to the store in the early morning weekend hours or in a flash after work.  If I volunteered to join, I had myself a date—just the two of us, driving through the streets of our suburb; working our way through the store, shivering in the dairy aisle and avoiding the spray of the sprinklers in the produce section; loading up the trunk with bags.  When the trip was with my mom, we’d gossip and stop by the coffee shop at the front of the store and peruse the magazines and steer clear of the ice cream aisle.  With Ren, we’d chat up the butcher, veer wildly from the list my mom had given us, discuss the (often sports) news of the day, and spend a great deal of time in the ice cream aisle.

Blueberry-Oat Bars

I especially loved the pre-Thanksgiving and -Christmas shopping trips, where the list was pages long (imagine the checking off to be done!) and required a stop at the regular grocery store, but also special detours to a favorite bakery and to a Scandanavian shop where the line would snake out the door and down the block.  There was a beat-the-crowds, battle-the-traffic sense of purpose to those trips and an almost tangible sense of excitement over the feasts that would be conjured from the items we were buying.

Blueberry-Oat Bars

I realize that the link between this little memory lane jaunt and these blueberry bars isn’t all too clear, but, I assure you, it’s there.  The recipe for these bars—essentially a barely-sweet, jammy ribbon of blueberry filling baked between two layers (the bottom pressed-in and the top strewn in dollops) of biscuit-y oats—comes from my parents’ grocery store.  When I talk about coffee shops and butchers and produce sprinklers and ice cream cases, I imagine all those things in that store, because it’s the one I grew up on.  It’s my prototypical grocery store, the one I first loved.
Blueberry-Oat Bars
Recipe adapted from the Byerly’s/Lund’s Magazine
I don’t want you to be misled about these bars.  From their appearance, you might guess that they’re a sweet and they are, but only by the slimmest of margins.  To most, these are probably staunchly breakfast fare.  If you’re like me, though, and like your baked goods only modestly sweetened, then these will serve you equally well as an afternoon snack or as a post-dinner treat. 
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, line with a piece of parchment (allowing the sides to hang over the pan) and butter the parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon.  Using the large holes of a box grater, shred the butter into the flour-oat mixture.  Using your finger tips, work in the butter until the mixture resembles pebbles or rice. 
I a small bowl, whisk together the milk, lemon juice and vanilla.  Using a fork, stir the milk mixture into the flour-oat-butter mixture, until just combined.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the sugar and cornstarch several times.  Add 1 cup of the blueberries and pulse until the berries are minced.  Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the remaining whole blueberries.
In the prepared pan, press half of the oat mixture into the bottom.  Spread the blueberry mixture even over the pressed-in oats.  Dollop the remaining oat mixture on top of the blueberry mixture, spreading evenly.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.
Bake 50 to 55 minutes, until the blueberry mixture is bubbling and the oat mixture is golden brown.  Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely in the pan.  Remove and slice into square- or rectangle-shaped bars.

33 comments so far. »
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  1. Megsie says on March 17 2010 at 8:07 pm:

    Oh, my gosh! Your store is MY store! I grew up a block away from the Lunds in Richfield (crosstown&Penn). I still drive BACK THERE at least once a month because I love it so, so much. And, I also arrange my list according to the organization of the store. These bars look so yummy. I can’t wait to try them. Thanks!

  2. Rebecca says on March 17 2010 at 8:26 pm:

    I cannot believe this… I saw where this recipe came from and just knew you were talking about MN! I love shopping there when I’m in MN visiting my family. Byerly’s has great cookbooks. Also – I’m a huge fan of Wuollets in Wayzata… darn! Now I’m craving carrot cake. Thanks a lot!!

  3. Flavia says on March 17 2010 at 8:32 pm:

    What a great post! I’ve loved grocery shopping ever since I was a little girl, too. And you are definitely not the only one who writes out her grocery list according to the layout of the store. It’s the best (and in my opinion, the ONLY, way to do it!). Will have to try out this recipe; sounds delicious!

  4. Tracey says on March 17 2010 at 8:35 pm:

    I love that these bars use frozen blueberries – I have a huge bag in my freezer that desperately needs a purpose. They look delicious!

  5. Anne says on March 17 2010 at 8:37 pm:

    This post is so great. I love going to the grocery store. When I travel, one of my favorite things to do is to go to the grocery store in whatever locale I’m in.. and this is especially fun when in a foreign country. I feel like it gives you a strong sense of the community and I always add it to my list of attractions when traveling. And you are absolutely not alone on the organizing the grocery list according to store layout. Is there any other way?

  6. Half Assed Kitchen says on March 17 2010 at 8:48 pm:

    Oh, to be as organized as you. I’m more a Mallory.

  7. Allison of "a for aubergine" says on March 17 2010 at 8:53 pm:

    I love how rustic and fresh these look. Love them!

  8. bianca says on March 17 2010 at 10:06 pm:

    These look delightful…I would call them a “must make”!

  9. Jessica says on March 18 2010 at 4:09 am:

    Blueberries in bars? That is genius. They look amazing.

  10. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on March 18 2010 at 4:32 am:

    Megsie: I know the one! Ours was a Byerly’s, but still.

    Rebecca: Well, I suppose we’re even, because now I’M craving carrot cake (and it’s not even 6:30 am!). Those Byerly’s cookbooks are gems.

    Flavia: I hope you do!

    Tracey: As far as frozen fruit goes, frozen blueberries are my favorite. I’m vowing to stock up this summer at the farmers’ market and load up my freezer.

    Anne: I do that too! I visited a friend in London a few years back and I must have popped into a dozen (which said friend found slightly bizarre!).

    Half Assed Kitchen: Oh, I smiled at that one. : ) And now all I can think of is Nick grunting “Hey-ey, Mall-o-ry.”

    Allison: Rustic is a great word for them (fresh too, even though we’re cheating with the freezer!).

    bianca: Yes, indeed! I hope you try them.

    Jessica: Thank you!

  11. Whitney says on March 18 2010 at 6:37 am:

    I have a quart bag of leftover blueberries from this summer. I know just what I want to make!

  12. Shanna says on March 18 2010 at 7:17 am:

    This was a great post – it brought back so many fond memories from childhood, going to the grocery store with my mom on Saturday mornings. I love grocery shopping and always have a well-thought-out list in hand.

  13. heather @ chiknpastry says on March 18 2010 at 7:39 am:

    oh man!! I kept staring at these trying to figure out what was on top, but i should have known they were blueberries! yum :). i also have some blueberries from last summer, so this will get made!

    you ARE NOT the only one to organize your grocery lists. unfortunately, i always end up being one of the thousands of people in the Lincoln Park WF’s on a saturday/sunday and have to organize to avoid punching someone :). produce on one side, in order of proximity to the front door, bulk next, then the meat counter, bakery, and shelf goods. gotta love it!!

  14. Rebecca says on March 18 2010 at 7:56 am:

    I absolutely love the grocery store. And lists. My hubs thinks I’m a nutcase because I actually prefer to spend a portion of my weekend making my list and roaming the aisles! These look fantastic, I can’t wait to try them!

  15. kate says on March 18 2010 at 8:18 am:

    I could have wrote this post. Seriously, because I have been eyeing that recipe and thinking that it needs to happen in my kitchen.

    I have used the list-by-store-layout for so long that I just think it’s normal and am always surprised by people who don’t. I suppose it comes from my years as a single parent, having to take a 4yo to the store and be in and out within his parameters of tolerance. Get what you need and be done. No matter that he’s almost 16- it’s still the best way to shop.

    Now, I think I will make these bars.

  16. Andrea [bella eats] says on March 18 2010 at 8:21 am:

    You are not alone, my friend. I, too, love lists and the methodical task of checking them off. I much prefer pen and paper to the ‘To Do’ app on my iPhone, although it does have a nice selection of cross-off graphics.

    I made a similar blueberry bar last summer that crumbled to bits when picked up, this one looks much more sturdy. I’ll definitely be trying it, perhaps with the leftover blackberries in my freezer…

  17. The Rowdy Chowgirl says on March 18 2010 at 8:42 am:

    I do my best now to avoid the regular grocery store and stick to the farmers market, co-op, and the produce store–but this post reminded me of all of the phases my relationship with the grocery store has gone through–the childhood pleasures of an air-conditioned store in the summer and walking out with a popsicle, the satisfaction of choosing and buying my own groceries as a young adult, the penny-pinching with calculator in hand in grad school, and yes, my uber-organized list-making phase…

  18. Betsy says on March 18 2010 at 9:03 am:

    What a lovely post to read!

  19. Rose-Anne says on March 18 2010 at 11:31 am:

    I too loved grocery shopping as a kiddo, and for all the reasons you described. I was such a mama’s girl that my mother could barely get in the car without me trying to tag along. (Poor woman!)

    The blueberries look so dark in that first photo that I thought for sure they were raisins, maybe mixed with super dark chocolate. At any rate, this recipe is my kind of bar. I love oatmeal and blueberries together–as a pair, they are irresistible to me!

  20. Dawn (KitchenTravels) says on March 18 2010 at 12:38 pm:

    I love grocery shopping, too, especially when I travel. It’s so fun to see what different stores, cities, countries carry! Have you seen Luisa’s recent posts on the Wednesday Chef blog? Totally different, but equally charming, grocery tales.

  21. Malin says on March 18 2010 at 12:51 pm:

    I can so relate to this post! This was as if I should have written it myself! The joy of Christmas groceries, (when my mum came home with countless bags filled with goodies made me more exited than the presents. That haven’t changed! ;) And I’ve always loved grocery shopping, and still do. Especially when I’m abroad, it’s fun and interesting to see what the local food is all about. And I organize. I’m even making weekly dinner-lists now! What can I say, I love lists and food! :)

  22. Polly Rice Sumner says on March 18 2010 at 6:13 pm:

    I know so many have already said this, but really, you just wrote out my childhood (aside from the ahem…shoulder pads). And I totally write my lists based on the store layout (and I have very specific starting points for each store). Great post!

  23. kickpleat says on March 18 2010 at 7:44 pm:

    I love grocery shopping! All the shops by my house are just small markets or farmer’s markets (with all their own charm), but I do feel giddy when I step into a real supermarket. I love the sound of these bars and I’ll make them soon with some frozen raspberries that i’ve got in my freezer. Yum!

  24. grandma says on March 19 2010 at 8:03 am:

    i got the latest blog can you believe it you write so well i didn`t have any blueberries. maybe i`ll try raspberries. love you both very much.

  25. Karen says on March 20 2010 at 8:29 am:

    I LOVE Lunds and Byerly’s! I can’t afford to shop there regularly, but they always have the best produce and bakery items. When I do venture in, it’s as special as a field trip. And it takes me twice as long, because it’s so fun to slowly walk up and down the aisles seeing the specialty items they carry.

  26. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on March 20 2010 at 10:53 am:

    Whitney: You’re so smart! I swear I’m going to stock my freezer this summer.

    Shanna: Thanks for your kind note.

    Heather: Sounds like our route, except we do meat before bulk. : )

    Rebecca: Well, know that you have a fellow nutcase in me.

    kate: I’m guessing you have the magazine on hand. You’ll see that I altered it quite a bit. If you try the original, I’d be interested to know your thoughts.

    Andrea: The to do list app! Would you believe I didn’t know about it. This could be a very good thing. : )

    Rowdy Chowgirl: Lucky you! We’re only able to shop like that more in the warmer months, when farmers’ markets spring up all over the city.

    Betsy: Thank you!

    Rose-Ann: It’s a favorite combination of mine, too. Add butter and cinnamon and a little sugar and, hooeee, I’m happy.

    Dawn: Yes! I’ve been loving those posts.

    Malin: I suppose I was happier about the Christmas presents back then, but the groceries are way more exciting these days. : )

    Polly Rice: I know, the shoulder pads: for shame. Thanks for your note.

    kickpleat: Raspberries would be lovely!

    grandma: Hello! Thanks so much for the note. xoxo.

    Karen: They really are beautiful stores. I haven’t found anything like them here in Chicago.

  27. Stacie says on March 20 2010 at 8:44 pm:

    I have yet to comment on your blog but have been following your recipes for a few months – I am confident in saying that The Kitchen Sink was a gateway drug to the addiction that is cooking-blogs.

    I have frozen strawberries on hand and will be trying this recipe later on in the week. It looks great!

    Thanks for sharing!

  28. rena says on March 23 2010 at 9:51 am:

    I also loved going grocery shopping with my Dad! We always came home with at least one “surprise” that had not been on the list. But now that I live in Manhattan and need to actually carry the bags home myself, I try to send my husband, who seems to have the same penchant for “surprises.” :)

  29. Patti says on March 23 2010 at 12:13 pm:

    Love this post … and I thought I was the only one who loved crossing the items off my list! My friends and family make fun of me for it but I really think they’re just jealous of my organizational skills!

  30. Libby says on March 24 2010 at 10:27 am:

    These look absolutely delicious! I love making homemade granola bars, and I can’t wait to try these next week. But I do have a question: do you think agave nectar would work in place of the white sugar?

    Thanks for posting this recipe! :)

  31. Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) says on April 09 2010 at 1:14 am:

    This is a very well written post. It has taken me back into your childhood, imaging the store with perfection. You can be a writer!

  32. Danabee says on December 28 2010 at 7:56 am:

    I just found this gem of a recipe via Everybody Likes Sandwiches. The recipe looks fabulous – exactly the kind of thing I look for for my kids’ snacks and school lunches. Thank you for it and the lovely post! But more noteworthy to me is the list thing you mention. Turns out I am not the only one who organizes my list per the layout of the store?! Of course not! It’s like finding out you are not the last rufous-sided pileated warbler or sumthin. Organized list makers UNITE! I need a minute….

  33. Blueberry Oat Bars | Everyday Home Cook says on June 13 2013 at 10:01 am:

    [...] Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin2.2http://www.everydayhomecook.com/2013/06/blueberry-oat-bars/All text and photos are copyrighted. Adapted from The Kitchen Sink [...]

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