The five bars so far ... (Maureen Tisdale / The Detroit News)
I knew I’d crossed the line — that my quest to find the perfect hand-held breakfast for my husband had veered so far into healthy that it had left delicious behind — when he took to slathering my latest attempt with frosting to get it down.
So much for healthy.
This breakfast muffin — the latest effort in a quest that began with a bar my husband really liked but was too full of nuts for his digestion — is my fifth attempt, and it’s become clear my husband and I have different mindsets about the process.
For my husband, the destination — a delicious breakfast bar that’s homemade, and therefore more wholesome than the preservative-laden commercial kind, plus ideally cheaper — is the destination. So since he liked my oats-brown-sugar-honey-dried-apple Attempt No. 2 pretty well (“it’s great — just needs to be slightly less sweet”), he seems to think playing with that would become my focus.
But it turns out for me, the journey is the destination. How could I settle down so fast when there were at least two other ideas I wanted to explore (not to mention the other 15 recipes his Aunt Bev had sent me)?
For example, I’d read somewhere that you could use nutritious oat bran in place of white flour in some recipes. So the third batch actually became Attempts No. 3 and 4, as I divided the recipe to make half with flour, half with bran. Sadly, both halves bombed — the bran half the worse of the two, barely qualifying as a bar as it crumbled into cakey pieces.
Hating to waste, my husband ate them as a mix in for yogurt to get them down, while I considered the lessons learned there to be (a) that bran is not a definite and equal substitute for flour in all baked goods and (b) that my husband wants soft but not flour- or bran-based bars.
In fact, he tried at that point to encourage me to go back to the oat-based Attempt No. 2 as a base with which to tinker. But I told him I had a hankering to try this muffin idea first.
Amused husband, with exaggerated hangdog expression: “So ... this isn’t really about me, then?”
Oh course it is, honey! Right after I have fun with this one recipe ...
… which took us to Attempt No. 5, the too-healthy muffin. The slathered-on frosting, though, may be a gamechanger. Even though I find fun in the journey, I DO want my husband to enjoy a reasonably healthy bar; it’s one thing when yogurt is employed to help, another when you have to bring in pure fat and sugar.
SO the quest continues. Right now, I’m working on emptying our deep freezer to defrost before the seasons turn, so my husband is getting to revisit all the previous batches bar by bar in his daily lunch (except Attempt No. 5, there’s a twist to that story — more on that next week). But within a week or two, I think the frosting factor will send me skittering back to playing with Attempt No. 2.
Wait just a second — was my husband using frosting as a Jedi mind trick??? Food for thought …
What are your food or recipe quests? Any suggestions for lightening up the sweetness factor in Attempt No. 2 – substitutions for brown sugar or honey? Add-ins like Craisins? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. You need a Facebook account to add comments, but they’re easy to sign up for, and free. Maureen Tisdale, Detroit News Food Editor, will keep an eye out the next few days to respond to any great comments or questions you post. You can also follow her on Twitter @reentiz. Join the conversation!