Fact: Flapjacks put you in fine fettle.
I can explain. During the time that we were building our own little nest on the farm, we took up residence in the nearby village of Adare, County Limerick. Adare, which in Irish is: Áth Dara, meaning “ford of [the] oak” is a precious little town with a population of about twenty four hundred and is regarded as one of Ireland’s prettiest villages. At the time, it had championed the “Tidy Town” award for five years running and it was easy to see why. To me, Adare village looked and felt like a scene out of medieval times; which, from my urban American point-of-view, proved to be a simultaneously charming and somewhat tricky territory to settle into at that moment in time.
If you strolled the village from top-to-tail in 2006, you would find two spectacular stone cloistered churches built in the 13th century, one petite corner grocery store whose clerk was the face of my stern second-grade teacher, a fish-n-chipper called the Pink Potato, a string of pubs seemingly all owned by one (Collins) family, two quiet fine dining restaurants, a Chinese takeaway that once charged me 5 euro for a side of soy sauce, a filling station with an unusually popular deli counter, a perfect little café. Turf smoke hung in the air over riverbank castle ruins, an itty-bitty post office that closed for two hours every afternoon, a friendly pharmacy with a glowing green cross on its facade, a row of thatched-roof cottages, a small library, the bank, a handful of B&B’s and two estate hotels once inhabited by Lords and Ladies.
By now you are wondering what this post has to do with a stack of flapjacks. I mentioned a perfect little café. About two blocks from our little bolthole was Lloyd’s. Like most businesses in Adare, Lloyd’s Café was a family-run venture. Small, quaint; a tiny dining room with 4-5 small wooden tables inside and 2 tables outside for when the weather was cooperating. The simple menu was chalked onto a board daily and consisted of just breakfast and lunch. A hearty full Irish, buttery scrambled eggs with a pinch of curry powder (the BEST), velvety soups, stews, sandwiches, salads, cakes, scones, and, most importantly, the only good coffee in town. It was one of those buzzy little places filled with excellent food and chatty locals, and if you stayed long enough you could file the village’s full gossip report upon your departure.
One day after ducking in for a quick lunch, I made my way up to the cash register to pay the bill.
“Would you like anything else?”
I pointed to the large glass cookie jar next to the till, “Em, sure, may I have two of these gorgeous looking granola bars please?”
“Two Flapjacks for takeaway?”
Puzzled, “Oh, no, no, the granola bars in the cookie jar.”
“Those yokes? They are flapjacks”
“Wait, what? Flapjacks are pancakes in America.”
With that lilting Irish irony, “Well, Flapjacks are Flapjacks in Ireland.”
She grinned, “Really. And sure, they’ll put you in fine fettle.”
Eventually I figured out that flapjacks are not flapjacks, but yet they are flapjacks, and they are considered a healthy treat in this neck of the woods. I learned that “fine fettle” means to be in good health or good humor, and ended up taking home three flapjacks (combination embarrassment + pregnancy clause.) They were devoured before the end of the day.
I had eaten my weight in them before I figured out that they were basically bars of butter, golden syrup (like corn syrup), and rolled oats. Not exactly a recipe for health. So, now that we live on the farm and have our own honey, I DIY swapping out the golden syrup for honey and adding nuts, seeds, fruits, and various healthy grains to the mix. They are a versatile snack to nibble with tea, after feeding calves or a run, and super fantastic for the lunchbox. We are butter lovers, but you can swap coconut oil, sunflower oil or nut butter for the butter for a dairy-free version.
However you proceed, I can promise that they sure will put you in fine fettle. Here is my favorite recipe which is packed with healthy grains and boasts the perfect balance of chew + crunch. Delicious!
6 tbsp / 1/3 cup raw honey
200g / 3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 medium ripe/soft banana, mashed
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
330g / 2 cups organic porridge oats
115g/1 cup organic millet flakes
55g/1/2 cup chia seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/Gas 4
2. Butter a 23cm x 33cm / 9″x 13″ Swiss roll tin and line the base with baking parchment.
3. Place the honey, butter, banana mash and cinnamon into a large saucepan and heat gently, stirring well until the butter has melted completely.
4. Put the oats, millet, chia seeds into a large mixing bowl, add a pinch of salt then pour over the butter and honey mixture and stir to coat the oats mixture.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and spread evenly to fill the tin making sure the surface is even. Sprinkle a small handful of millet flakes over the top.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven while the flapjack is still slightly soft, they will harden once cool.
7. Place the tin on a wire cooling rack, cut the flapjack into squares and leave in the tin until completely cool.
8. Try not to eat them all in one day!
Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell 2014
Tags: Adare, country life, farm, farmette, Farming, flapjacks, food, foodies, granola bars, honey, I Married An Irish Farmer, Imen McDonnell, ireland, Irish, Irish country living, irish farmer, irish food, Irish food photography, irish foodies, married a farmer, Married an Irish Farmer, married an irishman, millet, oats