In a couple days I will be back on the road for the final leg of my tour for my latest cookbook, Duck, Duck, Goose: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Waterfowl, Both Farmed and Wild. This time the road will take me south, first to Santa Fe and the Desert Southwest, then to the Deep South: Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana and finally Texas.
In my little white truck will be a store of these energy bars. I made a double batch for the first leg of my book tour, and they helped me do what I thought was impossible: I managed to go nearly two full months on the road without eating crappy fast food. These little bars pack a huge amount of energy, and their flavor is like nothing you’ve ever eaten before.
The reason is because many of the ingredients of these homemade “Clif” bars are from the Desert Southwest: Amaranth, mesquite flour and syrup, piñon pine nuts, dates. The recipe below includes all kinds of more “normal” substitutions, but if you can follow the recipe, you’re in for a treat.
These bars are chewy, crunchy, sweet and just a tiny bit salty. And one bar will typically last me from about 11 a.m. until dinnertime. I have no idea how many calories are in them, but it staves off hunger something fierce.
And one of the best parts of this recipe is that there’s barely any cooking involved: You need to pop the amaranth, which is kinda fun, and you need to heat up some nut butter and syrup or honey in a pot. Nothing could be easier. Feel free to play with the ingredients in this recipe to suit your tastes, but keep the ratios the same at least for the first time.
If you want to come out and meet me this January, here is where I will be:
- January 7: Santa Fe, NM at the La Fonda Hotel. This will be a joint book dinner and fundraiser for the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. Details on the event are here.
- January 8: Oklahoma City, OK at Ludivine. I did a dinner with these guys in 2011 and it was awesome. This dinner is almost sold out, so make a reservation ASAP! Call 405-778-6800 and find more details here.
- January 10: Private dinner in Little Rock, AR. This event is sold out, but I might be around Little Rock the evening before, signing books at a bar or something. Email me if you want to meet up.
- January 13: Birmingham, AL at Hot & Hot Fish Club. This is one of the great restaurants in the South, and I am honored to be working with Chef Chris Hastings for this dinner. We’re looking at a package that for two people will cost $120 — that’ll get each of you a four-course dinner plus a copy of Duck, Duck, Goose. Call 205-933-5474 to make a reservation.
- January 14: Alexander City, AL at Emporium Wine. A much more casual event, just drop in to get a book signed, drink some wine and eat some of my duck gumbo and grilled quail. Yep, I will be cooking. This is a joint event with Quail Forever, so come on down!
- January 15: Charleston, SC at Cypress. Chef Craig Diehl will be serving up some charcuterie and snacks for a book signing at one of the best restaurants in Charleston. I’ll be selling and signing books, then sitting down to a great dinner at the restaurant. No need for a reservation or anything for the book signing, but if you want to make a reservation for dinner afterwards, call 843-727-0111.
- January 17: Walterboro, SC with the South Carolina Waterfowl Association. I’ll be attending a banquet for the SCWA, selling and signing books and talking ducks. Come on down, support the organization and eat some duck!
- January 19: Atlanta, GA at Holeman & Finch. This is another of the South’s great restaurants, and I will be working with Chef Linton Hopkins to put on a great duck dinner. Details are TBD, but I know space will be VERY limited, so call the restaurant at 404.948.1175 to reserve your spot. NOTE: The restaurant normally doesn’t do reservations, so tell them its for the “Hank Shaw duck dinner.”
- January 21: Oxford, MS at City Grocery. Yet another truly great Southern restaurant, this time I will be teaming up with Chef John Currence for what will be a memorable dinner. Details are TBD, but call the restaurant at 662-232-8080 to reserve your spot.
- January 22: Hoping to put something together in New Orleans or thereabouts. Stay tuned.
- January 27: The End. The final “Duck, Duck, Goose” dinner will be in Austin, TX at Foreign & Domestic. This will be a collaboration dinner, where Chefs Ned Elliott, Jesse Griffiths and myself will each take courses. Final details are TBD, but we’re looking at two seatings and a cost around $65, with the book an additional $20. Seating will be VERY limited, so call the restaurant at 512-459-1010 to reserve a spot. (Again, the restaurant normally doesn’t do reservations, so tell them its for the “Hank Shaw duck dinner.”)
After that, I head home for good. I will have done all I can do to make sure that Duck, Duck, Goose is a success. Wish me luck — and try these energy bars!
Homemade Energy Bars
This recipe is based off a similar one I found at the Brown Eyed Baker’s website, only I substitute some Desert Southwest ingredients here. Feel free to play around with the ingredients to suit your taste — or region.
Most of the Southwest ingredients are best found online, but you should be able to find amaranth in a lot of supermarkets and pretty much every health food store. (The links in the other ingredients list take you to places to buy them.)
Once made, these bars kept for two months in the fridge, and a full month in a closed container at room temperature in my truck, so they are pretty hardy. They do get more crumbly as they age, however.
Makes about 8 to 12 bars, depending on how many you cut.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
- 1 cup chopped pitted dates
- 1 1/4 cups popped amaranth (or puffed rice)
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- 1/3 cup chopped pine nuts, pecans, peanuts, walnuts, etc
- 2 tablespoons mesquite bean flour or flaxseed
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- A healthy pinch of salt, about 1/2 teaspoon
- 1/2 cup pine nut butter, almond butter, peanut butter, etc
- 1/3 cup mesquite bean syrup, maple syrup, honey, etc
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup small semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Grease a sheet pan with butter, oil or cooking spray. Ideally you’d use an 8×8 pan, but anything close to that will work.
- Pop the amaranth. The link above goes to a video on how to do it, but it’s easy: Get a pot hot over medium-high heat and put about a tablespoon of amaranth seeds in at once. They will pop almost immediately. Move them to a bowl and repeat until you have your 1 1/4 cups. Don’t put too much amaranth in the pot at once or it will not pop correctly. It goes really fast, so no big deal.
- Mix the chopped dates with the oats, popped amaranth, nuts, mesquite flour, cinnamon and salt together in a bowl.
- Put the pine nut butter (or whatever nut butter you use) into a small pot with the syrup or honey and stir together over medium-low heat until well combined. Let this cool for a couple minutes, then stir in the vanilla extract.
- Add the nut butter-syrup mixture to the dry ingredients in the bowl, and mix a little. Add the chocolate chips and mix everything well. Move everything to the greased pan and spread it over the bottom of the pan evenly. Pack it good, then let it sit out for an hour or so to set fully. Use a sharp knife to cut out bars, squares or whatever shape you like and wrap with some wax paper. Eat when hungry.