School holidays are in full swing around here. In Germany they are set at regional level by each of the 16 federal states (Bundesländer). Each state will have holidays each year for fall, Christmas, Easter and summer, plus schools in most states also have a winter break around February. A few states have a break of about one to two weeks for Pentecost around May/June. There are also days off throughout the year which vary between the different states.
German school holidays are often used as a time for families to get together and celebrate festive holidays such as Christmas and Easter, go away on family vacations or have a local day trip. Holidays may also coincide with regional days of celebration or Carnival periods - for example as we live in the Rhineland, we always have a few days off for Carnival celebrations (for this year's recipe with respect to these popular holidays, pls go HERE).
Different beginning and ending days for the holidays are meant to ensure that the German highways, rail system and airports are not overwhelmed with vacationing families at the same time.
But just in case you want to make sure to be well prepared for and well-fed during your trip (no matter the method of transportation), following is a lovely recipe for my Müsli Power Bars that can easily be prepared in advance of your trip, fed to your hungry travel companions during the trip or be packed up and enjoyed at your place of desination. They are chock-full of protein (nut butter), heart healthy oats, dried fruits, coconut and dark chocolate to keep all of you travelers happy and your energy levels up.
Müsli Power Bars (Müsli Energieriegel)
- 265g rolled oats (around here that would be 'kernige Haferflocken‘)
- 1 tsp cinnamon (I like to use 'Ceylon cinnamon‘)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¾ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 50g chocolate chunks (I like to use dark chocolate with 70% cacao) – you can use nuts, seed or chopped dried fruits instead
- 30g unsweetened shredded aka dessicated coconut (I like to use coarsely shredded coconut, available at most health food stores)
- 60g dried fruits such as sour cherries, cranberries or 30g dried raisins and 30g sultanas or go with 60g apricots (chopped)
- 75g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 150g dark brown sugar (or use light brown sugar)
- 35g superfine baking (caster) sugar
- 2 eggs (M), free-range or organic, at room temperature
- 250g peanut butter, smooth or chunky (I like to use a brand from The Netherlands with small chunks) – you could swap another nut butter if you prefer OR make your own nut butter
- 8g pure vanilla sugar (around here that's 'Bourbon Vanillezucker')
- Preheat your oven to 180ºC (356°F).
- Butter a 25x5x25cm rectangular/brownie baking pan. Line with baking parchment - leaving leave enough to grab when the baked bars are finished, so you can use the overhang as handles, to lift the bars from the pan.
- Mix the oats, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, and salt in a medium bowl.
- In a small bowl, mix the chocolate chips, coconut, and dried fruits.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl by hand, beat the butter and brown and granulated sugars until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl, to make sure they are well-incorporated.
- Then add the peanut butter and the vanilla sugar and mix, then add the oat mixture and mix on the lowest speed of the mixer for two minutes.
- Mix in the chocolate chips, coconut, and cherries and stir until completely incorporated, making sure everything is well-mixed.
- Scrape the dough into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top.
- Bake until the top is golden brown and the center feels just set when you press it lightly, 20 to 25 minutes. NOTE: pls make sure not to overbake, as they still harden while cooling and they should be soft and chewy inside.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack; cool completely before slicing (this can take up to two hours).
- Eat the same day they were made OR keep the Müsli Bars in a cookie tin between layers of parchment paper (to prevent sticking).
While we can all use energy from the these delicious Müsli Power Bar during our travels, it certainly cannot hurt to reassure ourselves of a bit of saintly protection of St. Cristopher, whose service to travelers earned him the honor of being the patron saint and protector of travelers. It is the story of a man who was, himself, a traveler, and of his journey to find Christ.
According to legend, St. Christopher, initially called ‚Reprobus‘, encountered a hermit who instructed him on the Christian faith. He suggested that he might use his strength to help travelers cross a dangerous river. One day a child arrived to be carried across the river, Reprobus took the child upon his shoulders, but as he crossed the river, the child grew heavier until Reprobus feared he would fall and that they would both drown. When he finally reached the other side, he said to the child: "You have put me in the greatest danger. I do not think the whole world could have been as heavy on my shoulders as you were." The child replied: "You had on your shoulders not only the whole world but Him who made it. I am Christ your king, whom you are serving by this work."
When they reached the opposite bank, Christ asked Reprobus to press his staff into the ground. When he did, the staff turned into a beautiful flowering tree, and he was rewarded. Christ then baptized Reprobus in the river and gave him his Christian name which ‚Christopher‘ which means ‚Christ-bearer‘.
The above three pics of the St. Christopher statutes were taken by me at the famous Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom), St. Andreas Basilica (Basilika St. Andreas) also in Cologne and at the Münster Cathedral (St.-Paulus-Dom).
Christopher spent the remainder of his life in the service of Christ and worked tirelessly to spread Christ's teachings. He died a martyr in Lycia, in 251 A.D.
During the 1960s, the Catholic Church reviewed and revised the Calendar of Saints, and eliminated the feast days of several saints including the celebration of St. Christopher which was on July 25th. Although Christopher does remain a saint, his day of celebration is no longer listed in the Catholic calendar. Despite this, devotion to St. Christopher continues. Travelers wear St. Christopher medals around their necks, place St. Christopher medallions on their dashboards, carry St. Christopher medal key chains in their pockets, or affix a St. Christopher bell to their bicycle handlebar - like my hubby did!
All St. Christopher medals depict a bearded, middle-aged man. Upon his shoulders sits a child representing Christ, and in his hand is a staff. The Latin inscription around the medal, this one on a bicycle bell reads ‚Sancte Christophore - Iter Nostrum Protege‘ which means ‚Saint Christopher protect us during our travels‘.
Please note that my recipe for the Müsli Power Bars (Müsli Energieriegel) is part of my series for a 'local' (meaning across the state of North Rhine-Westphalia) radio station, where, throughout the years, I present different baked goods that are closely tied to various holidays and seasons. If you are interested, have a listen (in German) HERE.
The various recipes of my series can be found here:
- in January, for Three Kings Day (Dreikönigstag) two kinds of Galette des Rois (Dreikönigskuchen) (HERE)
- for Lent (Fastenzeit) Lenten Soup with Lenten Beugel (Fastenbeugel) (HERE)
- for Good Friday (Karfreitag) the delicious Hot Cross Buns (HERE)
- for Pentecost /Whitsun (Pfingsten) the fun Allgäu Bread Birds (Allgäuer Brotvögel) (HERE)
- for the beginning of the summer vacation, the lovely Sacristains (Almond & Sugar Puff Pastry Sticks) (HERE)
- for St Christopher's Day (St Christophorus), the energy-packed Müsli Power Bars (Müsli Energieriegel) (HERE)
- for Mary's Assumption Day (Mariä Himmelfahrt) my Tear & Share Herb Bread (Kräuterbrot) (HERE)
- for Mary’s Birthday (Mariä Geburt) some very pretty Mary’s Sweet Rolls (Süße Marienküchlein) (HERE)
- for Thanksgiving (Erntedankfest) a delicious and seasonal Thanksgiving Apple Tart with Frangipane (Erntedank Apfeltarte mit Mandelcreme) (HERE)
- for Halloween a Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake (Kürbis-Gewürzkuchen)
- for St Martin's Day (Martinsfest) the cheerful Sweet Dough Men (Weckmänner) (HERE)
- for St Andrew's Day (Andreastag) a classic Petticoat Tails Shortbread (HERE)
- for Christmas Day (Weihnachten) these Traditional German Gingerbread (Elisenlebkuchen) (HERE)
- for New Year's Eve a New Years Eve Pretzel (Neujahrsbretzel)
- and for Candelmas Day (Mariä Lichtmess) some delightful Navettes de Saint Victor (HERE) - more delicious treats to come very soon.