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pecan pie energy bars

2015 December 2
by Rachel Turiel

Unbelievably, it’s December. When do you start to get used to time passing? I mean really, it’s probably the most predictable event on this planet. Hours accumulate into days, days bundle into months, toddlers become teenagers. (And, I sprout another 5 grey hairs at the rate of: 2.83 dinners unloved X every time the radio insists “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”) I really wish I could get ahold of this time-passing business, making peace with the annual loop of birthdays and holidays. Instead, I awake jaw-dropped because somehow, inexplicably, we’ve passed out of November, again.

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Shhhh. Don’t tell this sweet little composite growing on a southfacing slope in Utah that it’s actually winter.

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Contemplating everything in a Utah canyon.

We took a fabulous trip to Bluff, Utah a few weeks ago. We rented a one bedroom kitchenette at a lodge reviewed as “quirky, dated, funky and not extra sanitized,” but “a great price!” all of which was true. When we were awoken at 4am by a rat running through the walls, it really wasn’t too big a problem because, as Rose reasoned, we like rats. She whispered to me, her pajama-ed self radiating warmth in the night, “should we rescue it?”

pecan pie5I will never get over the fact that in these desert canyons you can just find potsherds that are approximately 1000 years old. Thank you to everyone who finds and then leaves—as is the law—artifacts in place.

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This is “rock make up,” called: golden sunset.

We brought the kids’ friend Mathew along, Mathew who’s been their sidekick since a playgroup in the park when the boys were toddlers and Col, inexplicably stood up on  a picnic table and began shouting, “Mathyouuuuu….mathyouuu-uuu-uuu.” All mom-chatter stopped. Mathew wobbled over, saucer-eyed, following the compelling sound of his name bellowed across the park. It was as if Col had performed some ancient and powerful friendship ritual in which you literally call in a buddy for life.

Also, Mathew acts as ambassador to the United Nations of Siblings, promoting unity and peace, likely to actually remind Col of his promise a full three seconds ago not to pinch his sister.

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We took one of those innocent hikes that seems to transpire about once a year in which we have a destination that keeps moving out of sight, and no one (over ten) wants to let it go. It seems so close, that wild sandstone ridge that rises like a jagged dinosaur spine in the distance. But the false summit, trickster of topography, kept rearing up, adults smacking foreheads comically, “Well, look at that! Just a little bit farther, guys!” When we couldn’t budge the hungry, exhausted kids another step, we stopped and ate leftover elk burgers (secret ingredient: liver!) and pecan pie energy bars.

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All right, I burned these a little on the edges and then took an awful picture, but really, these are fabulous!

I first made these pecan pie energy bars for hunting season, as my answer to the “food” that Dan squeezes into his mouth for quick energy. They have high amounts of protein and good fat, and yes, some sweetener (I used honey and dates). They’re totally transportable, and although I made the cute muffin-style bars to appeal to kids, I am more likely to bake them in a baking dish and then portion out “slices” for on-the-go needs. Having these around helps me avoid buying granola bars for the kids’ lunches, which always seem to produce a small, lingering hangover of regret (the cost! the sugar! the packaging!).

Also, everyone loves these, which in our house is like a mathematical equation that always comes out right.

Pecan Pie Bars

pecan pie2The ingredients, nothing too crazy.


5 cups pecans

1 stick butter

1 1/4 cups dates, pitted

1/4 – 1/3 cup honey

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla


Melt butter and mix in food processor with dates and honey until you have a smooth paste. Crush about half the pecans with a potato masher, or throw in food processor. Add honey/butter/date mixture to pecans and mix well. Add salt and vanilla. Bake at 350F in muffin tins or in a baking dish for approx 20 – 30 minutes (less time if using muffin tins, more if using baking dish).

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All mixed up in the food processor.

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Happy little afternoon slice. Serve with coffee and Southwestern sun.



11 Responses leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    December 2, 2015

    This is literally the recipe I’ve been looking for all my life! Well, a few years, anyway…
    Love the story and pictures, as well. We’ve been on a few of those tricksy hikes, as well ;)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      December 2, 2015

      That makes me so happy!

  2. December 2, 2015

    Wow, there was liver in the burgers? They were so good! I never thought I would eat liver.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      December 2, 2015

      I know. Can you believe it? Rose is having the same reaction right now. “There was liver in the burgers?” I guess the cat’s out of the bag. :)

  3. Chelsie permalink
    December 3, 2015

    I’m finding myself a little panicky about the fact that it’s December, again! Wait! What?! But…How? I don’t feel readyyyyyyyyy!!!!! sigh… There’s still stuff on my To Accomplish in 2015 list. I really thought this year was going to be different… I went in to it with a different more focused intent and yet I still feel the same way I do at the end of every year that it could have been better…? More exciting? More accomplished? I guess I get to keep working on it til I get it right lol There’s always next year!! ;-)

  4. Sara permalink
    December 3, 2015

    Wow, you are just on point with your subject matter all the time. You bring up what’s circulating with our corner of time and place all the time at the correct moments. Thank you.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      December 3, 2015

      Sara, I really appreciate hearing this! Lets keep communicating telepathically!

  5. Molly permalink
    December 3, 2015

    I’m going to try these. The packaging on the storebought ones is what gets me. If I thought harder, the sugar would too, but mercifully, I have blind spots. My girl loves pecans. Fingers crossed.

  6. December 4, 2015

    Oh heck yeah it feels wild, the unyielding train of time. It’s kind of like talk about the weather: it’s always available to scratch our heads about, wonder about, give in to.

    Love you and yours. Last year, now and in one year.


  7. December 4, 2015

    May that southwestern sun trick you now and then into believing its summer — just a little little bit : ) ahhhh…. I await the day for kitchens near wilderness. Ooh, next time you’re in bluff let me know so you can meet my dear friends who run the Design Build Bluff program. They’re a Japanese family (little daughter Suki turning two soon) They comprise more than one full percent of Bluff’s population! Hugs and kisses to you and the family!

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