And This Time, I Mean It

granola bars

With just a week left before my move, things have gotten rather frantic around here. I won’t bore you with stories about delays, budget overruns, a bruised eardrum from someone yelling in my ear when I’m standing just a foot away, and so on, but I can now say with confidence that I understand why there are so many pills in the medicine cabinets across France. Chez David has become a mini Vallé des poupées (Valley of the Dolls), with most of my efforts right now concentrating on trying to obtain a minimum of three hours of solid sleep per night. And, of course, making sure blog posts don’t have a single typo in them.

Needless to say, visitors can forget my requests for bringing over corn tortillas or dried cranberries – I need a reload on ExcedrinPM. What I thought would be a relatively straightforward project has become a lesson in how much patience and good humor are left in me. I made the grave error of stepping in freshly poured cement, which has occurred only once during my 53 years on this earth, but someone on the job has not let me forget it and has mentioned it at least seven times since I did it. And it was only yesterday.

craisinsrolled grains
granola barsprune kernel oil

However they’ve finally cleared away a lot of the debris and I could get a clean look at the space to lay out the plan for the kitchen. Designing a kitchen is like a puzzle and since it’s where I work, I need it to be, well..workable – and to get it right since there’s no going back. So it’s hard when someone barks at me to make a decision in four seconds that I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life while I’m surrounded by a mess of construction and noise. But the good news is that I have two eardrums, and the other one still has a bit of life it in.

Speaking of clearing debris, I’m still working on cleaning out cabinets and the refrigerator. And speaking of debris, I’m still working on trying to figure out how to preserve the fresh-frozen cranberries in my freezer during the move, when I likely won’t have a refrigerator for a couple of weeks. I’ve also been eying a stray bottle of plum kernel oil, a half-jug of maple syrup in my refrigerator, odds and ends of miscellaneous dried fruit in wadded up bags held together with elastic bands, and a canister of rolled oats, so I decided to give granola bars one last go with a recipe that was in one of my many (many) folders of paperwork. (In that respect, I’ve become very French.)

granola bars

I’ve had my issues with granola bar failures in the past, and swore off trying them ever again, but I had clipped a promising recipe for my nemeses – and what was left of my American optimism hadn’t (yet) been quashed. The recipe was from a chef who I have a lot of respect for, so I was certain it would be sure-fire success.

But reading through the recipe just as I was measuring out the ingredients, my first concern was that there was over one part sweetener for two parts of oats. The whole mixture seemed suspiciously soupy as I mixed everything together. But I persevered and right near the end of the cooking time, when I took a peek insides the oven, the seeds, oats, and dried fruit in the pan were bobbing up and down in a slick pool of sugary syrup, which was bubbling furiously at the edges.

Being an optimist (another American quality that I’m trying desperately to preserve) I let the bars cool, as directed, then peeled off the foil, which was rather difficult because the bars had become welded to the pan. And when I snipped off a taste of the edges, aka the cook’s bonus, my teeth recoiled from the overwhelmingly sweet goo. And this comes from someone who eats sugar for a living.

granola bars granola bars

When I mess something up, I usually keep it around for a few days, picking at it from time to time before tossing it. Being frugal and not likely to toss things away, I almost broke a spatula as I scraped the mixture that had fused to the cutting board, into a bowl and kept it around a while – occasionally pulling out a glazed cranberry or a prying off a few of the sunflower seeds sealed onto the surface. Then, when I realized that the whole thing was a loss, I tossed it.

granola bars

So this time I am moving on from a few things. For one, granola bars, once and for all. And this time I mean it. So now it’s back to the boxes, and burrows of my cabinets. I’ve found a few long-lost oddities that I was considering fooling around with in my nearly empty kitchen, but perhaps I will wait until after the move to give them a go. Although when that date is, I’m not quite sure. In the meantime I’m keeping an ear to the ground for when that will be. The good ear, that is.

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  • February 23, 2012 2:14pm

    I understand why you’re giving up on granola bars. anyway, even if these are not perfect for you, they look good!

  • February 23, 2012 2:21pm

    Too sweet is always a good reason to throw something out, I feel, given that it’s not like I ‘need’ to eat more sugar. I have to confess, after spending two years in the UK, I have never made granola bars, because I consider British flapjacks to be a more ‘highly evolved’ incarnation of oat bars–fortunately, it’s pretty easy to get golden syrup where I love.

    Even your photos of your failures look beautiful, though–it LOOKS like the broken bars would have tasted good on some yogurt, even if the wouldn’t have in reality!

  • mothersweden
    February 23, 2012 2:22pm

    Let it go. If you really loved granola bars you would have come up with the perfect recipe long ago.

  • tony
    February 23, 2012 2:27pm

    I couldn’t even try to make those but my partner has been pretty successful with making ‘flap jacks’ which, to me, is the British version of a granola bar. He has made me some with loads of honey and dried cranberries, which we can get here because we have Costco! Perhaps you should try a different recipe? I agree with Kim, the ones you made looked very tasty!

  • February 23, 2012 2:38pm

    Kind of makes me feel a little ‘better’ knowing even a pro like you has misteps cooking sometimes. Because I have tried granola bars many a times and they always turn out crappy. And here I always thought it was just me struggling for a good bar recipe…..

  • Carol L
    February 23, 2012 2:39pm

    David forgive me but now I’m confused. You’re moving into the apartment you are currently renovating filled with contractors….NEXT week? Honey forget the Excedrin P.M. somebody needs to set you up a drip of the strong stuff.

  • Craigkite
    February 23, 2012 2:52pm

    Will this apartment be occupied by two people, or still be your own “mad scientist’s” lab? Double occupation brings its own set of anxiety and chaos, moving in and adjusting. Heavy Duty sedation might be a better idea than granola grief.

  • Heather
    February 23, 2012 2:58pm

    I hesitate to even suggest it, since it sounds like you’re over granola bars. But have you ever tried Kim Boyce’s recipe? I’ve made jacked-up granola bars more times than I can count, but her recipe from Good to the Grain is – to date – the only success I’ve ever had with them. If you ever feel like giving it one more try, hers wouldn’t be the worst place to start. That said, it sounds like you have a few other things on your plate right now. Good luck with the move!

  • February 23, 2012 3:09pm

    Now those granola bars look perfect, nice golden and rich,.. mhm..

  • tina
    February 23, 2012 3:09pm

    Don’t give up just yet! There’s a recipe that I’ve tried several times by Dean Brettschneider. It is in his cookbook – “New World Baking – my time in Shanghai.” It has a recipe of a Fruit & Nut Energy Bars that works. It has oats, nuts, seeds and fruits and not too sweet. And it doesn’t fall apart when cut into bars.

  • Vera
    February 23, 2012 3:27pm

    I love that you have a category for whining. Most of us aren’t brave enough to have such things.

  • patty miller
    February 23, 2012 3:31pm

    Hang in there, David. Just one week to go. Once you are in and settled (and the cement has worn off your shoes) it will all be worth it!
    Trust someone who has been there, done that.

  • ParisGrrl
    February 23, 2012 3:34pm

    How many bags of cranberries are we talking about? I’m in the 17th and can spare some freezer space here if you need it. That’s a serious offer.

  • February 23, 2012 3:46pm

    Your recent experiences of getting your place set up remind me a lot of what happened in the book “A year in Provence” – have you read it? When I read the book, I wasn’t sure if that was an accurate description of how things work in France (never been to Europe), but now that I have read your posts, I think they were spot on!

    Don’t throw those bars away! They look so good!

  • February 23, 2012 4:02pm

    David – I can see where granola recipes can be frustrating. It gets worse when you are trying to make bars out of them, because you need something to hold everything together.
    I have an absolutely wonderful recipe for Meusli that could be made into a granola bar recipe. If you are interested, let me tinker a bit, and I can get back to you!

  • February 23, 2012 4:04pm

    David, this is not a pitch for my site :) just trying to help. If you try the almond butter, brown rice syrup and maple syrup combo I use for bars you might be pleasantly surprised: It’s delicious.

  • Jenny
    February 23, 2012 4:06pm

    Just forget the granola bars and soon you will forget the person who (almost) destroyed your eardrum. My construction project took twice as long as it was supposed to and the contractor was like a big bear who yelled at me too many times. Trying to keep things calm I never yelled back until the very end — really felt good too. Now I’ve (almost) forgotten him and the whole experience because the space is so wonderful to be in. Hang in there– you will be happy again soon!

  • Jillian
    February 23, 2012 4:19pm

    I second the vote for Kim Boyce’s granola bars, though I recommend dialing down the sugar considerably.

  • Well, that’s too bad. If you should change your mind down the road, Ina Garten has a fantastic granola bar recipe, that I make all the time. Maybe the timing wasn’t the best either. Stay strong. You will survive this move and the construction of your kitchen.

  • Erin Star
    February 23, 2012 4:33pm

    Those look like Florentines, can’t you just pretend that’s what they are? Pictures are gorgeous as always! Good luck with the move – can’t wait to see and hear all about it. :)

  • Hillary
    February 23, 2012 4:46pm

    I think it would be nice to leave a footprint in the concrete of your new home. That way, 50 years from now when someone else is remodeling it, they’ll find a little bit of its former owner. (As opposed to a defunct toilette turque, say…) Good luck – it’ll all be over soon!

  • February 23, 2012 4:47pm

    Thank you for posting about a cooking failure. We all have these at home, but its nice to see the experts also have troubles in the kitchen. This post gets me wanting to experiment more in the kitchen and not worry so much if it turns out in the end.

  • Toni Molinari
    February 23, 2012 5:03pm

    granola & fruit has nothing on chocolate & ice cream :)

  • February 23, 2012 5:12pm

    You’re moving in a week? Ooooh can’t wait to see the finished product! I agree with Hillary about your footprint, your very own walk of fame. Bonne chance.

  • Sissy
    February 23, 2012 5:24pm

    Uh, the contractor should have put up a barrier or sign around the concrete if he didn’t want anyone to step on it. Floors are after all made for walking :)

  • February 23, 2012 5:27pm

    Giving up is a perfectly acceptable position, however if you should ever decide that you must try to make granola bars again, Alton Brown has a recipe ( that I’ve made several times over the years and never had any issues with. It’s more soft and slightly chewy than hard and crunchy but it holds its shape when cut into squares and very adaptable to whatever you have on-hand. Best of luck with the move!

  • Jennifer
    February 23, 2012 5:27pm

    Just make sure that Excedrin PM isn’t from the US, so you may get more than you bargained for. Like percoset, it’s been recalled here:

    Do you happen to know if your favorite Sunday market at the Bastille will be running on Easter Sunday? We’re making our first visit to Paris and we’d love to visit your market and visit your chicken lady.

  • Gina
    February 23, 2012 5:28pm

    Wish I’d had something even remotely like your sense of humor during my kitchen remodel of 2005. In solidarity, I offer a granola bar recipe I’ve made with great success. I’ve added other fruits — apple, apricot — to the fig mix to use up remainders, and it still comes out great. I’ve cut the brown sugar by half and still like the results. Very time consuming to chop the dried fruits, but otherwise easy. Save for much (much) later when the kitchen’s been around a while…

  • February 23, 2012 5:32pm

    Is it wrong to say I’m reassured you have baking failures too? :)

  • February 23, 2012 5:33pm

    HOW do you have time to cook anything at all a week before you move? You must be the most organized person in the world. I wouldn’t begin to be ready to move in a week, especially to a new house that’s just being remodeled. You were my food hero before but now I stand in awe.

    I love that you’re human in the kitchen. I don’t feel so bad that my idea of stuffing lemon curd in a blueberry muffin made them look like small volcanoes after the eruption. :) definite fail.

    Seriously, good luck with the move.

  • February 23, 2012 5:35pm

    rest well david.. truly it will all be over soon… i will send you granola bars and anything else you may need. just ask anytime.. xx pam

  • February 23, 2012 5:36pm

    Having just moved out of my house in Provence I know just how you feel (having finished doing the work on it, now renters can come in and enjoy the finished house!).
    On the last day before driving off with my very noisy cat, I decided I needed to use up the chicken stock I’d made, the vegetables I’d bought in the market and the end of a box of lentils…….anyway, I was quite grateful later in the night when I sat in my Etap motel, eating lentil soup (oh and then the cat peed on my pillow during the night…..but thats another story)

  • Gayle
    February 23, 2012 5:41pm

    Regardless of your success with the granola bars, I give you a lot of credit for even baking when you must be in the middle of packing stuff up. To hell with granola bars!

  • February 23, 2012 5:45pm

    Oh, David, I feel your pain. Over Christmas, I made honey cardamom caramel that never set up enough to wrap as candies and was too stiff for sauce. I kept it around for awhile, spread out on parchment, then rolled up and refrigerated, like some kind of fruit leather. It tasted good, but so messy to eat. I finally made turtles, using pecans to hold the caramel in place just long enough to pour chocolate over the whole mess. Step away and it would smoosh into ever expanding puddles. Frugality can lead to some crazy long hours in the kitchen trying to salvage expensive ingredients, but occasionally makes for brilliance. Those turtles were the favorite sweet in the Christmas box. Go figure.
    Making a list, checking it twice:
    Excedrin PM, Craisins, Oats and Maple Syrup?
    I’ll be there in two weeks. Hope to see you at the Charcutepalooza party!

  • Pami Farrell
    February 23, 2012 6:01pm

    At least they looked like a success.

  • john s.
    February 23, 2012 6:05pm

    Hey! You’re not in the slammer for murder or a padded cell…way ahead of the game. Can’t imagine anybody (i.e. an American) doing that extreme a makeover in Paris. Kudos & Admiration!

  • Kristin
    February 23, 2012 6:09pm

    I feel guilty for laughing, but oh gosh! If it helps, I can relate…except for the stepping in fresh concrete part. Though I have done equally embarrassing things.

  • Helen Christ
    February 23, 2012 6:12pm

    Life is a mystery. Be it granola bars or kitchens. You just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. If it makes you feel better, I have been making pastry cream for 40 years..easy-peasy. However, I cannot figure out why mine, all of a sudden, sets up and then 2 hours later is runny. So you see, have heart,my friend….life is a challenge. Your new home will be a dream! Bon Chance!

  • February 23, 2012 6:12pm

    Well it looked good…

  • February 23, 2012 6:12pm

    I feel your pain…and I love granola and granola bars ( that are scrumptious that is)

    Art by Karena

  • Erelin
    February 23, 2012 6:13pm

    Wow! Don’t know how you do it all! I won’t complain now, for at least a day, about all the stuff on my to do list….And by the way, your posts are so amazing, delicious, funny and entertaining, we really don’t care about the typos, even if there is more than one ;) There you go, one less thing to worry about! Bon courage, David!

  • February 23, 2012 6:16pm

    Your plight has rescued my sense of failure. I made some wildly heralded brownies last week that ended up in the trash. I love brownies with the most minimal amount of flour possible but even I was surprised at how little that recipe called for and once done it was simply a caramelized piece of goo. Yes, chocolate goo so I did pick on them a bit but eventually they met the same demise as your granola bars.I could blame the altitude in Denver but won’t…those pups needed the flour I thought they did!

    I hope you aren’t being too optimistic but even more I hope the move goes well and next we here you are firmly ensconced in your new kitchen.

  • Mary Pohl.
    February 23, 2012 6:17pm

    Thank you for writing and describing in detail a cooking failure. Exposing your
    cooking vulnerability is something that most people can identify with. Being a
    real person makes life less stressful.

  • Steph SF
    February 23, 2012 6:22pm

    Move on from granola bars and substitute british flapjacks into your life. Very easy, satisfying (caramelized from the golden syrup) and you can add in fruits and nuts as you please. The Lyle’s Golden Syrup website has a good base formula.

    My personal hobby horse is the genoise. Everyone pastry person has something.

  • February 23, 2012 6:29pm

    Your experience reminded me of something said in pastry school:.” We’re not surgeons dammit. It’s dead. Throw it out!” instead of trying to constantly resuscitate a bad outcome. I feel for you with the kitchen having remodeled mine due to a neglected pot of bones in a pressure cooker creating a grease fire of epic proportions. Just know this too shall pass.

  • Judi Wallner
    February 23, 2012 6:33pm

    Serious need for Excedrin PM ?….I’m flying to Paris tomorrow and could tuck some in my suitcase for you! Just let me know and “Bon Courage” for the kitchen. Can’t wait to see your photos.

  • Susan
    February 23, 2012 6:33pm

    Granola Bars? A week before you move? Honey, you need wine..and lots of it. Spfft..granola bars. .

  • Judith Basham
    February 23, 2012 6:37pm

    I don’t know the protocol in France regarding buying headache pills; here in England only two packets per person per purchase. Since we are business people with a VAT number I can buy bulk. Scream if you ever need a care package! I also have “my little man” in the Chemist that trusts me and I have wonderful little pills that help blot out the noise, calm the mind and allow sleep to occur. We had our kitchen gutted five years ago to have a bespoke kitchen installed. I did a lot of pointing out various faux pas along the way, which did little for the relationship. However, when one pays the asking price it must be delivered to what the customer was promised despite the dizzy rubianon cook rubia that kept adding her two pence worth. Agree with Steph SF, English flapjacks are easy to make from scratch and no, they are not pancakes with a countrified name!

  • Sharon
    February 23, 2012 6:41pm

    Last week I followed the latest Cooks Illustrated’s recipe for granola. Five cups of oats, syrup, etc etc later, I was left with overly-sweet-dry-as-dust goat feed. I rarely toss anything and so held onto the mess the requisite 24 hours. Perhaps it would right itself magically overnight? Mais non. Out it went. (Actually, I never eat granola, but I had a huge canister of rolled oats . . .)
    Your renovations nightmare sounds like mine. At least your workers didn’t take a month off during deer season . . .

  • Mary Askew
    February 23, 2012 6:53pm

    Granola can be good: granola bars are never good.

  • Kathleen
    February 23, 2012 6:55pm

    What is the purpose of granola bars? What’s wrong with putting extra stuff in a good oatmeal cookie?

  • February 23, 2012 7:03pm

    David, Please don’t give up until you’ve tried to make a Larabar. They are superbe!

  • February 23, 2012 7:04pm

    Did I miss the recipe for the granola bars?

  • GosiaL
    February 23, 2012 7:17pm

    good ingredients for cookies…:o(

  • February 23, 2012 7:20pm

    Being able to make granola bars is over-rated. Now a perfect scoop! There’s bragging rights.

  • February 23, 2012 7:30pm

    I know I’ll never dare to make granola bars but your optimism is infectious.
    I just spent 30 minutes reserching Kim Boyce and granola…
    This always happens when I visit

  • February 23, 2012 7:41pm

    Yup, I can commiserate. David. A non-crumbling granola bar is my biggest bete noire. I remain optimistic, however.
    I am enjoying your reno- I have a similar project in my future and the kitchen will be the biggest challenge for me. I am collecting appliances in hopes that I will actually have room for them all…again, I remain optimistic!
    Thanks for sharing your triumphs as well as your failures.


  • February 23, 2012 7:45pm

    I’m pretty sure homemade granola bars are impossible. The have to be. Because mine are either hard as a rock or way too sweet. Regular granola however is very doable.

  • Sandy Castro
    February 23, 2012 8:11pm

    They looked very good and I also have the American quality so I will now tackle your recipes in Ripe for Dessert..Wish me luck as I am also frugal and do not like to throw out food..any food.

  • February 23, 2012 8:25pm

    I so appreciate your sense of humor. Thanks for keeping it alive even under construction and granola duress.

  • Norine
    February 23, 2012 8:29pm

    Oh David, I hope you yelled back in English. Maybe that no longer works :-). Im SURE that that concrete misstep did not benefit your shoes.

  • sharon
    February 23, 2012 8:32pm

    Leaving your footprint in wet cement is an American tradition! I will be in Paris April 1-4, please let me know if there is anything I may bring that will thrill and delight.

  • February 23, 2012 8:33pm
    David Lebovitz

    Carol L: Yes, stronger would be better. But I can’t be too out of it, ya know..

    Ken: Since they were awful and I ended up tossing the whole batch away, I don’t quite think anyone else would want the recipe.

    Cathy: ExcedrinPM would be nice, although I actually buy TargetPM when I can ; )

    Sissy: Well they did say to look out for it, but the place is still such an obstacle course, it’s hard to remember where to step, and where not to. It was just something that was easily re-leveled, but one ‘particular person’ on the crew thrives on yelling at people. Fortunately someone flipped out on him, big time, and although I wasn’t there, I heard it was amazing to watch.

  • February 23, 2012 9:30pm

    :( Sounds like you need to listen to Three Little Birds :) Hope you’re able to recover your hearing and your optimism. Good luck!

  • KG
    February 23, 2012 9:31pm

    I’ve enjoyed reading about the renovation and cleaning out the cabinets. as an FYI…you will be cleaning construction ‘dust’ for at least 6 months. A contractors definition of clean is very different from our standards. I work as an architect so I am familar with their level of clean.

  • gail
    February 23, 2012 9:33pm

    This move will provide a great opportunity to rid yourself of lots of unnecessary “stuff.” It will also make unpacking in your new maison easier and quicker. Think of it as a learning experience. When all is said and done, you will smile. Oh, and strong drugs are a valid suggestion. Bonne chance!

  • Vicki
    February 23, 2012 9:38pm

    Bake flapjacks! Use a recipe that includes brown sugar as well as honey and light corn syrup and they will be both crunchy and slightly moist. I have been addicted to them since 1977 as they are always my go-to sugar high. It’s best to bake a double batch since they will be inhaled.

  • February 23, 2012 10:01pm

    You should have listened to your gut, no matter how good the recipe is from whatever well-known chef. Everyone has their bad days or recipe typos.

    You could have pureed the failed bars, added several cups more toasted oats, thrown it all together and placed it in the fridge to re-harden. Granola bar failure solved! Guess it’s too late ;)

  • Dee
    February 23, 2012 10:30pm

    Granola bars are over-rated anyway. They look healthy, but in fact they are just as high in fat and sugar as many desserts. May as well eat chocolate cake instead – it’s probably no worse for you.

  • Adelaide
    February 23, 2012 10:33pm

    I must say your first picture of the post made it look extremely delicious and I was hoping there would be an awesome recipe at the end of this post when I saw it :P

  • Laurel
    February 23, 2012 10:48pm

    I love this post. Why? Because you are a gifted and experienced chef yet you still have disasters! I am sorry about the granola bars. I hate wasting food too, especially since your initial goal was to put the left overs to good use. I hope it helps to know this post has lifted my spirit. Next disaster I have in the kitchen, I will know that it happens to the best chefs too!

  • February 23, 2012 10:49pm

    oh! i think i recognize this recipe. i had such high hopes for it, too, but it produced granola bars that were didn’t travel. . . and and what’s the point in granola bars if you can’t take them anywhere?

    i was so excited when i saw the picture on this post. i don’t think i’m quite ready to give up the granola bar fight.

  • alexandra harris
    February 23, 2012 10:52pm

    When things are going awry, and stepping in concrete definitely falls into this category, it makes sense to bake comfort food from back in the day, but there’s no point losing your fillings in the process. And comfort is rarely found in sugar masquerading as health food. Here in Australia we call them “muesli bars”, and they’re one of the few processed pre-packaged foods I always keep in the pantry – excellent for trains, planes and automobile journeys ! I agree your subscriber “Dee”, choc-cranberry granola bars, anyone ? Why don’t you get rid of absolutely everything from your fridge and start over brand new when you move. Cathartic !

  • February 23, 2012 11:03pm

    Ok, i’m just gonna say it: WTF? you’re 53? No. Way.

    Next: I’m soooooooo happy, no elated, to read about one of your failures. i’m such a horrible baker.I seriously only have ONE thing I can bake, Easy Fudge with a raw egg….and it’s not even officially “baked” because you don’t use an oven. you just melt the chocolate and mix it with the sugar and egg and toss it in the fridge. I tried a “flourless” chocolate cake this holiday. Failed. Big fat F. thank god I can cook. but bake?

    so when i read one of my favorite chefs have a failure in baking, it just gives me hope. thank you! :)

    btw: who eats granola bars when you have like a billion creme or chocolate recipes that are to die for?

  • February 23, 2012 11:09pm

    NEVER trust a worker who speaks the word “normalement”, as in “ce sera fini mardi… normalement”. Whatever he says from that moment on is a lie.

  • February 23, 2012 11:12pm

    David, stick to chocolate cake instead, less likely to cause expensive dental work to be done….
    Hubby cracked a tooth on supermarket popcorn, ended up costing €250, while I ate some high fibre cereal and did the same thing. See, these healthy things are no good for you!

  • Melissa
    February 23, 2012 11:43pm

    Re: “Decisions you’ll have to live with the rest of your life.”

    Potential angst-reduction: The NYTimes , June 15, 2006, has an article in Home and Gardens that will assist. My re-hab is in Mexico resulted in an affordable, efficient, well designed cocina. The “hot, cold, wet, dry” stations are your focus. The “Comment Policy” doesn’t allow me to forward the article, entitled ‘….Designer brings His Ideas Home’.

    Take a deep breath…and, Thank you for this delightful blog!

  • Denise
    February 23, 2012 11:47pm

    My French over the counter pharmacy answer to ExcedrinPM… Donormyl. About two euros, comes in a tiny box of ten, you want it in the pill form, not liquid. Sounds like you could use it.

  • Alison
    February 24, 2012 12:13am

    David, I feel the same way about scones!

  • Toby
    February 24, 2012 12:19am

    I am volunteering to check for typos in your blogs. Aside from culinaria, it’s what I do for a living. Caught one end of paragraph 3…word reversal. So unimportant to us who love your work though. But you want all to be as good as it can be and I understand. Just beware Excedrin and its ilk Got me one huge ulcer. Consider Tylenol. I hope you adore your kitchen.

  • Brittany
    February 24, 2012 1:08am

    I know you granola bar pain! They are the toughest things to make. We made a batch a week or two ago, and they turned out a horrid, crumbled mess. They tasted good, but what’s the point in a granola bar if you can’t hold it in your hand and snack on it? Maybe someday someone out there in the world will manage to get it right! :)

  • Shari
    February 24, 2012 1:53am

    Those kind of look like granola sticky buns. Ha. Is that an oxymoron? I’m happy that you’re keeping your sense of humor through the whole renovation process David. Patience Grasshopper, you’ve still got a long way to go.

  • Elspeth
    February 24, 2012 2:49am

    David – just wanted to say – love your blog and love, love all the great stuff you post on your FB page. I just found your site a couple of months ago – not sure what took me so long! Also – I have never seen that oil from LeBlanc – sounds amazing – I love their stuff and always bring a stash back to Canada…especially their whole walnuts and the roasted hazelnut oil – along with other treats!
    Keep posting!

  • February 24, 2012 3:43am

    David, don’t fret over typo’s, us humans, don’t. Besides, you know that the well-meaning reader will gladly ‘correct’ them (and point them out to the rest of us) in hopes that your being publicly chastised will eliminate any such errors in the future.
    And we all know how we all feel about THOSE people… ;)

    Seriously, about that granola. Maybe you are trying too hard.?. It’s understandable, stress has a way of holding us hostage. Go back to the fridge contents. Write about the expiration dates on the condiments. Discuss the dust bunnies. Talk about the clearing out and organizing of those items you can’t recall accumulating. Give us the personal history of the individual that bruised the ear drum, even if you have to write fiction.

    We aim to be entertained, but not at the expense of your sanity. Give yourself a break. We love you. Ain’t no typo or grammar faux pas that can change that.

  • Heather
    February 24, 2012 4:35am

    You’re hilarious.

  • February 24, 2012 4:42am

    granola bars? really? yer brain may, just may, be overtaxed. some shoulder angel must’ve whispered in your bad ear Granitas, Granitas and you thought she was saying granola granola.

  • Sonia
    February 24, 2012 6:06am

    A faux pas into fresh cement is bad enough, but for someone to remind you of it *AT LEAST 7 TIMES* falls to an abysmal level of poor taste far below that of the tossed granola bars.

  • February 24, 2012 6:30am
    David Lebovitz

    Elspeth: I love that plum kernel oil which I use in granola, as well. However it’s one of those things that’s nearly impossible to find outside of France, so I don’t call for it in recipes. Leblanc makes excellent oils of various kinds, and another company had started up just marketing plum (or prune, in French) kernel oil – although am not sure if they are still producing it, or what the availability is.

    (It appears to me that Perles de Gascogne is a company that is still making it, although I don’t know about availability.)

    Margie: I gave up on being persnickety about typos and goofs on the site a while back. (With books, we have copy editors and folks at the publishing house to go over those things.) But I decided it’s better for the blog to be more fun and casual – and I could write and post less, and send everything to a proofreader before publishing, or just write. Blogging – at least to me – works better when things are unscripted, and more casual and off-the-cuff.

    Denise: Thanks for the tip. The pharmacies in France are so overwhelming…so much great stuff… so will check it out. Although am thinking in a few weeks, things will be in better shape. (Although, once again, that may be my American optimism…)

  • Emily
    February 24, 2012 6:33am

    I’ve given up on granola bars as well. Too dry, too sticky, too crumbly, too goopy… I’ve never been able to strike the right balance. The funny thing is, I don’t even LIKE granola bars all that much – every time I’ve attempted them is just to try to prove to myself that I can do it. Well, we all have our shortcomings, and I suppose you and I just didn’t get the granola bar gene. On another (happier) note, I made your Whole Lemon Bars the other day using Meyers and they were a huge, huge hit. (If you’re curious, I adjusted for the sweetness of the lemon by cutting down the sugar in the filling by a quarter cup and adding a teaspoon of zest, which I imagine did the trick; the pan disappeared in less than a day.)

    Anyway, I haven’t yet congratulated you on your new place – I can only imagine how difficult it must be not only to find a potentially inhabitable Parisian dwelling but to deal with a huge remodel – major kudos to you for taking on such an enormous project. I’m crossing my fingers everything works out in your favor!

  • February 24, 2012 6:40am

    damn damn damn damn. I laughed at your NY’s post about abandoning the quest for a granola bar recipe, but inside I cried at the same time. Because I have been trying for years (half-heartedly and in spits and spurts) to get my recipe right. And never have managed to yet.

    And then today’s post. I got so excited seeing the picture. …

    Saliva was almost dripping from my chin.

    But then I read it. So yes, I understand the need to move on, and I applaud that. But I will have to continue the seemingly fruitless (ha!) quest for the perfect granola bar recipe…

    By the way, my best cobbled-together recipe so far has a little corn syrup but most of the sweetener is from orange juice.. But they are a non-crunchy variety..

  • February 24, 2012 8:11am

    I had a good laugh at myself…after reading your entire post (still thinking your granola bars looked delicious), I was desperately searching for the ingredients. I know you’ve sworn off making granola bars, but I’m not a super particular person (shame on me), so I would definitely eat them….even worth scraping off a cutting board. I was curious because I have a TON of walnuts and a bunch of dates that I was going to turn into a granola/energy bar creation and was hoping for some tips. Good luck on all the house endeavors and remember, if you don’t like the way your granola bars turn out, I probably do. ;)

  • Skippy
    February 24, 2012 9:14am

    Granola bars are just not worth the effort. They have this rep for being healthy, but to make them edible you have to load them with as much, if not more, junk than you’ll find in a good, honest cookie.

    I sympathize with your urge to try to fix them, though. When a recipe doesn’t come out right, I try to save it because I hate the idea of wasting the money I spent on the ingredients. The hard part is determining when I’m wasting even more money by trying to repair it. The best course most of the time, unfortunately, is to just bite the bullet and toss it right away…

  • February 24, 2012 9:34am

    je viens de faire des granolas,je vais essayer cette recette maintenant ,c’est tellement bon….



  • meringuette
    February 24, 2012 11:09am

    I’m with ParisGrrl. You could do a little freezer space auction in exchange for cookies. No, make that ice cream.

  • February 24, 2012 12:56pm

    I have been trying for years to create a low fat/oil granola bar but they have never been as dry and easy to eat as the commerical varieties.

  • February 24, 2012 1:55pm

    Aussi mauvais que c’est photogénique?

  • Sherry Bellamy
    February 24, 2012 7:27pm

    When you’re settled, if you ever feel the need to try granola bars one more time, bear in mind that even the most disastrous result can be hacked up, (therapeutic!), added to some additional oatmeal…maybe a bit of flour and butter, and strewn over a pan full of raw apple chunks. You’ll end up with great apple crisp every time, and you can feel good about eating apples….practically health food!

    Sort of health food, kind of. Okay, maybe not. But it will taste great, trust me.

  • Mike
    February 24, 2012 7:48pm

    I’m going through a renovation myself. You verbalized my feelings perfectly. Had to chuckle as I too have been barked at many times and had the same stress in making a life decision. Only one month to go. Looking forward to seeing your completed project.

  • February 24, 2012 7:57pm
    David Lebovitz

    Sherry: These were so gooey and molten (and sweet) that it was impossible to chop them, let alone cut them into shapes. Perhaps they could have been melded with flour and some butter and baked into a cake, but…

    Mike: I had to learn a lot of French vocabulary (and addresses!) because of the unique words used for electrical wiring, plumbing, and woodwork. Good luck to you, wherever you are!

  • Sherry Bellamy
    February 24, 2012 8:35pm

    I have to agree, sometimes frugality is a false virtue….I have a tendency to freeze mistakes, and then to dispose of them weeks later. I’ve found that it helps to be drinking when throwing things out; it blunts the guilt….cushions the shame.

  • February 24, 2012 9:57pm

    Hi David, hope you’re hanging in there! I feel compelled to say “thank you” for continuing to feed all of your readers with such ‘good stuff’, week after week while simultaneously going through the remodel. No, it’s NOT fun having someone bark at you at anytime, let alone when you’re trying to keep your creative head on straight making decisions. BUT, there seems to be the faint glimmer of the light at the end of the tunnel now. (On a side, I appreciate the honest perspective with the whole ‘granola bar’ recipe situation- nice to see that even long-time pros such as yourself go through some “teeth recoiling” moments.)

  • Ute-S
    February 24, 2012 11:48pm

    What’s a foot in wet cement? Nothing! Lately there was a guy who drove his Porsche into wet cement in San Francisco. Do an internet image search for it.
    But I can feel your pain. Before I settlled where I now live (16 years now), I’ve been moving 6 times in 10 years. But it looks like you’re nearly finished. My good thoughts are with you!

  • February 25, 2012 12:19am

    Aww that’s not good. I feel your pain though, the same thing happened to me with some vegan caramels a few weeks back. I knew that they weren’t going to solidify nicely and of course, they didn’t. I tried to salvage them but half of the mix stuck to the tin foil and the other half ended up on my hands. Clearly it just wasn’t meant to be. I guess that’s what store bought caramels (and granola bars) are for!

  • Susan
    February 25, 2012 2:04am

    Absolutely hilarious! I read this twice, and laughed out loud both times.

  • LeeLee
    February 25, 2012 2:23am

    Bag the granola, David! Through trying times, and renovation surely is that, stick to old favorites and certainty. I’ll take a piece of your almond cake over any granola bar I’ve ever eaten, any day. Throw any leftover dried berries to the birds. They have to eat too. Your new pantry can be filled with what you really want, not what you feel you have to use up. And please, throw in typos intentionally right now if you want. No reasonable person could expect perfection from you now (or ever, if you ask me). The majority of us are thrilled with your delightful posts, typos aside. This is from a once upon a time proofreader.

  • Wendy
    February 25, 2012 4:12am

    You are hanging in there really well. Being as you are in the middle of it all, the debris, the cement, the loud-mouthed workers who think you’re an architect, it’s hard to see THE END of this chaos. I love the humour that you add to your anecdotes and I keep checking back to make sure that this process of buying a place and doing these renovations from an empty space, that it hasn’t killed you! (Not yet, you say!!!)

    I have a suggestion. Go to a toy store and find a large, fluffy, stuffed toy and buy it. Bring it home and use it as the ‘go to’ when you really have had a bad day! Like the stepping in cement day! After all, any psychologist will tell you that during times of great stress, it’s healthy to have an outlet where you can communicate how you are feeling!!! Remember Tom Hanks and his volleyball??

    Anyway, I am cheering you on during the evolution of David’s new kitchen and new home.

    As always, best of luck!

  • February 25, 2012 6:14am

    What a deliciously honest post. Sorry to hear things are taking so long and you’ve run into so many obstacles. At least you still write one of the most informative and entertaining blogs out there:). Hope that is some comfort.

  • Laura H
    February 25, 2012 9:32am

    I take comfort in your granola bar experiences–makes me feel less a failure. If they’re giving YOU fits, it might not be my fault mine always end up so dreadful. Cheers!

  • Kathryn
    February 25, 2012 4:04pm

    Salut David,
    Your post made me laugh- in a happy way.
    Even in Australia we feel your pain (re reno’s) and appreciate your culinary insights. Just the other night my husband made an egg salad inspired by your previous post.
    Bonne Chance,

  • Julie
    February 25, 2012 6:00pm

    I hear what you say – you won’t try ever again. But. I thought I was a hopeless case until I tried Deb’s recipe at smitten kitchen. It is fantastic, not too sweet, and after a night in the fridge slices beautifully. C’est promis.

  • juvsal
    February 25, 2012 6:38pm

    Hi, david! It’s really great that inspite of all your renovation ups and downs,u are kind enough to take time to blog and believe me your posts are not just posts for the sake of posts,they are so much informative and keep us wanting more from’s interesting to share ur experiences and learn from them.we all r with u in this whole process of shifting home and will b there with all our best wishes for u when u step into ur new home!!!!

  • elsewise
    February 25, 2012 7:49pm

    Oh granola bars – when they work, you wonder why anyone would bother buying them when they’re so simple. But when they fail, it’s disastrous.

    My husband recently tried to make me nut-free macarons (argh allergies), and we quit when it looked as if he was trying to stir pink chewing gum into beach sand.

  • February 25, 2012 9:17pm

    hi david! how exciting that you are getting to design your kitchen. good luck with the move. construction is never pleasant but the results are so worth it. hope to see you in ny at iacp.



  • February 25, 2012 9:41pm

    I have an almost perverse love of kitchens, so I cannot wait to see your new kitchen. I am assuming that you, too, can not wait to see your new kitchen, which stands to reason. As for granola bars, I just made these: and they are a gem. I have taken to making a batch every Monday and eating them for breakfast throughout the week. I think it is fair to say that I am more than slightly addicted to them.

  • Caity
    February 25, 2012 9:59pm

    I also recommend Deb’s thick and chewy granola bar recipe. If you’ve time once you’re all settled in, they’re not too sweet and very adaptable.

  • February 25, 2012 10:21pm

    footsteps in cement photo’s please!

  • February 26, 2012 3:50am

    It’s okay to leave the granola behind. You are beyond a talented man, with many tastes, pastries and gateux up your sleeve!

  • Freda
    February 26, 2012 5:44am

    Today I made your Lemon Tart and the amazing French tart pastry you posted on this blog entry-
    I can’t tell you how important this is to me. I have been pastry challenged all my life. Something to do with my hands being too warm. I can just manage food processor pastry but that still required me to roll it out another area that I am not skilled at. The resulting tarts were not very appealing to the eye.

    The French tart pastry is so easy and so flaky. I will be trying this with other fillings. Thank you and thanks so much to Paule Caillat for sharing.
    I will be coming to Paris in April. Would you like me to bring you something from Canada? Dried Cherries? Maple syrup ? Ice wine?

  • February 26, 2012 7:48am

    haha i love this post. i’m sorry life is treating you rough! it will all be over soon it will all be over soon…just keep repeating it (your kitchen that is, not life! :p)

  • basak
    February 26, 2012 10:51pm

    Dear David,

    You should be proud of yourself, you have a lot going on in your life and you are still a dedicated blogger! You are a champ!

    I trust that you cannot throw a nice big debris to me online! so I’d like to remind you ‘America’s Test Kitchen’ for a good recipe of granola bars! I tried their granola pieces recipe it was perfect! Well at least maybe you will try that later :-)

    Hang in there…

  • heather machin
    February 27, 2012 1:11am

    too funny. when ever i move kitchens, (and its a lot, economic gypsies are we) i end up creating something from whats left in the cupboards. last time it was a fruit mince from all the odds and ends of dried fruit, half a jar of marmelade, a ripe pear and the dregs of this and that alcool. bashed together and packed into a jar it kept i the fridge for months until i made some mince tarts at christmastime. sensational they were.

  • Melissa
    February 27, 2012 3:46am

    Hi David,

    My name is Melissa and I’ve been following your blog for over a year now. The other day, when you posted about the difference between French and American refrigerators, I brought up your point to a good friend of mine, who is from France. We had a good laugh about it, but concluded that there was no difference; though, French refrigerators tend to be much smaller (which did not seem the case in the pictures of the two models you were “comparing”). At any rate, he started talking about foods that he grew up loving and mentioned St. Moret cheese, which I think is similar to Babybel in its soft and mild flavor. Since then, I have been on the hunt for it because his birthday is coming up and I would love to surprise him with it, especially since he misses France a lot. Sadly, I have been unable to find it despite all the searching (physically and online…). Then I had an idea that someone from France might be able to ship some over. I am based in Atlanta, GA. This is a lot to ask, but would you be willing to ship a small case of St. Moret cheese to me? I can pay upfront for the cost of the cheese and shipping and any additional costs. I guess a better question is whether you think it is possible to even ship the cheese over… At any rate, I’d greatly appreciate your help! Though no worries if you do not want to or are unable to. It was a random idea I had to possibly obtain this hard-to-acquire cheese!


    Here is what the packaging looks like:

  • February 27, 2012 4:34am

    OH no, David! Did you ever try Kim Boyce’s recipe from “Good to the Grain”? That’s the one I rely on!

  • Catherine
    February 27, 2012 7:49pm

    Bonjour David

    Answering your wonderful newsletter : the word is soupirail – small window in a cave.
    Write me concerning the shower……
    Thanks for your wonderful humor – I’m French with 15 yrs in the US so I appreciate greatly ;-)

    Thanks – it was pointed out to me by a few French readers, whose occasional help with the language I greatly appreciate : ) -dl

  • February 28, 2012 12:42pm

    Hi David,
    Courage, looking at the photos of the OBRA, in Spanish that’s the work site, I do understand. I learned Spanish in Buenos Aires living in apartments I was re-doing
    to sell and become independently rich….OK, I can assume you are now up off the floor from laughing, I’ll tell you about my GRANOLA experience.

    About 40 years ago my nephew sent me a Granola Recipe from SUNSET magazine in California. Using this recipe and of course as I’m a cook, adapting it to my own taste, I became the undisputed QUEEN of Granola in Buenos Aires….for what that’s worth. BUT, I made a lot of cash with my product…never in MY LIFE did it enter my head to make BARS from it. ??????????????????????????

    I guess that Trail Mix, something I detest and Granola Bars are all things used in California. Hmmmm. No comment. I love California but not enough to eat Trail Mix.

    THANKS for all your courage, culinary education and laughs, you are the greatest, don’t know what I’d do without your blogs.

    Geraldine in Spain

  • Amanda
    February 29, 2012 12:26am

    Granola bars are all about the marshmallows and nut butter. I’ve used this recipe and it works, trust me! I’ve varied it in all kinds of ways and it hasn’t failed me yet…

  • Deborah
    February 29, 2012 6:21am

    Hadn’t visited your site in a while, but I need to visit more regularly. You are hilarious. Loved this post.

  • March 1, 2012 1:10am

    Hi David, If you still require fridge space I would be more than happy to let you use mine. I have no big catering jobs coming up so I have tons of room in my work fridge. Let me know if you would like to take some of your cold stuff on holiday to the 16th.
    Cookies aren’t necessary either…as some posters suggested. I have enough sweets of my own : )

  • March 3, 2012 8:55pm

    Before making a cross-country move (large home to an apartment w/o an extra freezer!), I knew I had to get rid of everything in my freezer. You know, the kind that has things flying at you when you open it too quickly. I farmed out banana and pumpkin breads, chicken stock, pounds of butter, crumble crumbs, etc., etc. Almost divorced my husband when he tried to throw away containers of nuts I had stored there as well. Purging and “repurposing” can be such an emotionally draining experience that no one but another food “collector” would understand. (And six months later, I am still sadly thinking about the entire Panattone I stupidly left behind on the counter.)

  • Lyn Pass
    March 5, 2012 4:30am

    I am reassured to have you confirm that even in Paris construction is the pits!
    It will get better!

  • Wendy Hunt
    March 5, 2012 4:36am

    David – I’ve refrained from commenting as so many have expressed similar sentiments. However, I just have to add my voice to the chorus. I love your blog. If we met on a street in Paris we’d pass by. If we met at a party, I’d know you immediately. Many thanks for your familiarity in your blog. And all the very best in your new space. I look forward to many more blogs that make me sigh and laugh out loud. You really are terrific.


  • March 7, 2012 8:13pm

    I haven’t had much success with granola bars either…Best to stick to plain granola.

    It’s comforting to know that even professional pastry chefs can flop a recipe–And something as homely as granola bars! No one will miss them with your pastries around.

  • March 13, 2012 2:56am

    Oh, David. You must be frazzled! From the photos I was imagining the granola bar goo repurposed with more oats and flour as a fruit crisp topping or as a cheese cake base, but you have probably made countless cooks feel better by admitting in public that you cooked something unsuccessful and threw it out. We know you can cook deliciously and beautifully.

  • Pat Gordon
    March 15, 2012 6:45am

    David ~
    What a joy in discovering your blog. I enjoy your style of writing, and the recipestips are a gold mine.

    Here is a recipe for chewy, thick granola bars that you can stash away until the next time you say, “NEVER AGAIN.”