Every day for work I pack Mr NQN a lunch to take with him. Occasionally I will fill a bag with things that he can share with his colleagues although these have to be easily transportable as he rides a bike to work. Mindful that I used to overfeed the fish and cat (and I think they both died from obesity) I am cognizant of my tendency to overfeed others.
He usually get a sandwich, some fruit but I can't help sneaking in a snack or sweet in the lunch. I figure he burns it off on his ride (ok we live about 6 minutes from the city by bike so he's not really burning that much off) but I figure something sweet can't hurt. Of course it's that same logic that made my cat into a sprawling furry shape of Australia.
He has taken recently to riding distances in order to get his fix for exercise (I know, I don't know _what _that is about) and one Sunday morning he awoke at 6am to ride from North Sydney to Homebush. He asked me if I had any muesli bars and of course I didn't although a part of me wanted to jump up and say "but wait...I have an array of cakes and biscuits!" while showcasing the goodies like a Wheel of Fortune hostess.
Mr NQN was eyeing some dried fruit that I had bought and seeing his puppy dog eyes I decided to turn on the oven and make some macadamia and fruit bars for his trip that I had earmarked in a new book I had been sent to review called Seasons at Home by Holly Kerr Forsyth. I liked the idea that it had dried fruit and macadamias in it but also a little layer of cookie so that it wasn't completely virtuous.
They were fairly easy to make and I used some fabulously fresh macadamia nuts I had been gifted from Lorne Valley macadamias in Port Macquarie which made the bars incredibly crunchy and moreish. The fruit which you can customise to use your favourite dried fruit was strong in ginger because that is his favourite. The topping was moist and slightly sticky and gooey and the cookie bottom, well of course that is always going to ring my bell.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you pack a lunch for work? Or do you buy your lunch and if so, do you get something sweet to finish it off?
Macadamia & Fruit Lunchbox Bars
Adapted from Seasons at Home with Holly Kerr Forsyth, published by MUP $34.99
100g/3.5 ozs butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour
1 cup mixed fruit with your favourite dried fruit-I used Turkish apricots, Iranian golden raisins, glace pineapple and glace ginger
1/3 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
2 free range eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
1/2 cup plain flour, extra
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
icing sugar to dust (optional)
Step 1 - First chop up the dried fruit and place it in a saucepan with the water, simmer for five minutes and then cool.
Step 2 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Butter and line a 20x20cms square tin (or round tin) with parchment paper. In a small food processor, whiz the base ingredients of butter, caster sugar and flour until it just come together to resemble a cookie dough. Or you can do this by hand in a small bowl, it doesn't take long. Press into the bottom of the tin in an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes until starting to brown. Remove from oven.
Step 3 - Meanwhile mix the brown sugar, macadamia nuts, eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and the fruit mixture in a bowl. Mix together until cohesive and then when the base is cooked spoon the fruit mixture over the base. Smooth over the top and place in oven to cook for 30-35 minutes until the top is evenly cooked and not "wet" looking. Remove from the oven and cool. Once cool, dust with icing sugar and slice into fingers or wedges.