It is not an exaggeration to say that going on “holiday” with my family is like going on boot camp. The usual R&R (rest and relaxation) that most people associate with holidays, in my family stands for ‘R’un and ‘R’un some more. This isn’t to say that it’s a bad thing- we’re just a very unique/somewhat senseless family. Survival of the fittest is not a term to be used lightly in describing holidaying with the Helms’. Our reputation precedes us; rain or shine.
I just returned from three days in Bar Harbour, Maine with my boyfriend and parents. My boyfriend and I ‘ummed’ and ‘Arred’ about whether or not this would be a painful (in muscle and mind) experience to go on holiday with the rentals and in the end decided, (as I suspect any young, broke couple would) what the heck it’s free. So off we went, armed with our best smiles, energy bars and codeine.
Maine is perhaps one of the most beautiful places that I’ve visited in the States- reminiscent of Scotland with its hills, beautiful crystal clear lakes and of course satanic winters to match. The beautiful serene nature of Acadia National Park was on our doorstep and I could have spent the entire weekend sitting on the porch rocking chair enjoying the view. But the only sitting that a Helm does on holiday is on a bike. They were rented within thirty minutes of arrival and off we went for the next six hours and two days, caked in forty-five sun block to protect our delicate British complexions.
As I see it, the only good thing about such active holidays is the amount of food that a Helm feels they are “allowed” due to excessive exertions. My family not only competes in physical exertion but also in voracity/deservedness of appetite. We like to feel that we’ve earned our next meal- and if you haven’t put in enough effort before breakfast, you can forget the eggs and bacon- it’s muesli for you.
On this particular trip it was the seafood that we were all “working” for- lobster and crab being top of my wish list. The rocky shores and crystal clear waters of Maine have given it a reputation as a wonderful habitat for shellfish- and I wasn’t about to ignore it. My parents’ had stayed in our designated B&B before and had warned us that breakfasts there were typical American fare- loaded with glucose that would only lead to a disastrous mid-race sugar crash. Stragglers would be left behind- this wasn’t a place for the unfit.
It was thoughts of food that got me through the following six hours and two days. As my legs peddled away through the mountains, I daydreamed about tying a bib around my neck, savagely tearing at the flesh of a lobster and indulgently sucking the juices out of it’s claws. My bruised sit bones, muscle aches, blisters, sunburn and new addiction to codeine were perhaps a high price to pay for a few extra calories- but as a Helm, I like to think they were worth it.
I’ve played around with a lot of different energy bars and come up with this. It’s not too chewy nor to crisp and it’s incredibly versatile. I tend to just chuck in what ever I have lying in the cupboards to make up the weight. If you are going to be out in the sun without a cooler, I wouldn’t use the chocolate. The Molasses cuts through the sweetness of the condensed milk, so I would highly recommend it- you can use the rest to make a molasses cake…mmmm.
200g porridge oats (rolled not instant)
100g mixed nuts (I particularly like brazil, hazelnut and almond)
25g shredded coconut (preferably unsweetened)
25g bran flakes
150g dried apricots, chopped
50g seeds (such as flaxseed, sunflower, pumpkin)
397g tin condensed milk (can be low fat)
1 tbsp molasses (this can be replaced by honey/golden/maple syrup)
200g good quality chocolate (dark or milk- just needs to be tasty), chopped
1/ Heat oven to 350F/180C/gas 4. Grease and line a 20x 30 cm tin with parchment
2/ Mix together all of the dried ingredients (except the chocolate) in a large bowl.
3/ In a small saucepan heat together the condensed milk and molasses. Stir until warm and combined
4/ Pour over the dry ingredients and stir until fully combined. Spread evenly in your tin and bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly golden on top and set (it will continue to crispen out of the oven). Let cool on a wire rack.
5/ Turn the cooled bars out onto a board so that the flat side is facing up. Melt the chocolate in the microwave (I usually do 1 minute then stir until fully melted) and spread over the bars. Best stored in fridge and eaten within a couple of days.