I haven’t yet told you how I do my grocery shopping, have I?
First, you need to know that I’m a rather hermit-like person. My preferred state of being is in my pajamas, on the couch, in my apartment. So it’s only fitting that I would have my groceries delivered to me rather than go to the store and buy them.
When I was in high school, I worked in a grocery store. We had a program called “Shop For You” that enabled customers to have an employee do their shopping for them, and all the customer would have to do is come in long enough to pay the bill and pick up their bags. All for a small fee, of course. I used to think, Why would you want someone else to do your shopping? Well, I now know why.
For me, it’s mostly about my desire to leave my apartment as infrequently as possible. But it isn’t only about that. In addition, I really don’t like my grocery store. It is always crowded, there are always long lines, the produce is always in bad shape, and they’re always out of at least one thing I need. So when one year ago Peapod sent me coupons in the mail that allowed me to get my first five deliveries free (there’s usually a $7.95 delivery fee), I had to try it out. I became hooked. I don’t think I can ever go back.
Not only do they bring your groceries right to your door, but shopping online is so easy! I can see all the weekly specials at a glance, and I adjust my shopping accordingly. Plus, they’re always sending free samples and coupons for delivery discounts. And the free samples are good ones. This week I got a free full-size box of Barilla whole grain penne, and the previous week I got a full-size box of Tazo tea. Nice.
There are, however, some drawbacks. The delivery guy is sometimes late, which means I can’t make any plans for nights when my groceries are coming. Also, when you’re doing your shopping online, you sometimes don’t know exactly what you’re going to be getting. You need to pay extra close attention to listed quantities and amounts. For instance, I recently thought I was getting a regular size container of quick-cooking oats, and mistakenly ordered the jumbo size. This container is so big that it doesn’t even fit in my cereal cabinet, and I need to sit it on the floor in my pantry.
As a result of this, I have, of course, become fixated on cooking with oatmeal. I’ve baked it and fried it, made scones with it, and today turned it into cookie bars. I could probably just let the container hang around and use it as the need arose—oats don’t go bad, do they?—but that’s not my style.
Here’s the recipe for Chocolate Oat Bars. These are quick, easy, and good for snacking. I bet you could use this basic method in lots of different ways. For instance, you could probably replace the chocolate layer with a fruity jam layer and have them turn out just as well.
Chocolate Oat Bars
1 tablespoon cold butter
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons quick-cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with tin foil (for easy clean-up) and, using cold tablespoon of butter, grease bottom of foil and half-way up the sides. Reserve remaining butter (about 2 teaspoons) for later.
In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over low heat, melt together chocolate chips and milk. Stir frequently, and remove from heat when chips have melted.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup oats, baking powder baking soda, and salt. In a medium owl, stir together egg, sugar, oil and vanilla. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
Reserve 1/3 cup dough. Spread the rest evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the chocolate layer evenly over the top.
To the remaining dough add 2 tablespoons of oats and reserved butter. Cut butter into the dough with a fork or with your fingers. Drop small bits of dough evenly over the chocolate layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for at leat an hour before cutting.