Spiked Orange-Chocolate-Oatmeal Bars (Inspired by Modest Mouse)

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“I drove around for hours, I drove around for days/ I drove around for months and years and never went no place” — Modest Mouse’s “Interstate 8,” from the Interstate 8 EP

THE DISH
Orange oatmeal bars with nuts, chocolate chips and vodka-soaked raisins (recipe here)

THE INSPIRATION
Modest Mouse’s music was made to be blasted in a car with the windows down. It can be spastic, a perfect soundtrack for reckless driving or speeding on the freeway, but it’s also a perfect companion for a cathartic solo drive late at night. Especially in their first two albums, 1996’s This Is A Long Drive For Someone with Nothing to Think About and 1997’s The Lonesome Crowded West, frontman Isaac Brock drops plenty of references to escaping, sitting in parking lots, and driving — although in many cases it leads nowhere.

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“Out of gas/ Out of road/ Out of car/ I don’t know how I’m going to go and/ I had a drink the other day/ Opinions were like kittens/ I was giving them away” — “Out of Gas,” from The Lonesome Crowded West

I first heard of Modest Mouse when I was away at camp and my friend Jason mentioned in a letter that he and his friends were driving to Ohio from Michigan for one of their shows. I think it was that same summer, when I was 15 and in driver’s ed, and there were at least a couple times that he dropped me off at class. It was right after he had gotten his license, and I remember him accidentally turning the wrong way onto a one-way street… It was good times. It was the following school year that I first actually heard Modest Mouse; Jason performed the song “Bankrupt on Selling” at our talent show (it’s still probably my favorite MM song), and I immediately downloaded everything I could get my hands on. Isaac Brock’s lyrics, especially earlier in their career, are rough and dark, about destruction, sometimes substance abuse and as mentioned earlier, a lot of going in circles and getting nowhere. Maybe it’s not a surprise that my friend had connected so closely with Brock’s songs; Jason took his life a few years ago, and even though we had drifted apart a few years before, this band will always make me think of him. He would’ve been 25 today; kind of a weird coincidence because I’d already had this post planned for this day … but I guess life is funny like that sometimes.

Anyway, about the food, which isn’t all that deep: Between references to being on the road and drinking/general self-destruction, I wanted to make a roadtrip-ready snack with booze in it — that obviously does not involved drinking and driving, in any way. The heat takes out some of the alcohol but leaves a little bit of the taste, although to be honest, I’m not sure if I can actually taste the alcohol or if it’s just the orange flavor. Either way, it works and these are good.


THE RECIPE
Adapted from Anjya’s Food 4 Thought

Ingredients:
1/2 cup raisins, soaked overnight in 1/4 cup vodka (I used espresso-flavored; you can use any flavor, or really any kind of alcohol… if whiskey is your thing, it’d probably be good. I’d probably vomit, but that’s just me.)
1 1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp orange zest (from one orange)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup orange juice
2 tbsp honey
2 more tbsp vodka, or liquor of your choosing

Directions:
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Combine all dry ingredients and vodka-soaked raisins.

• In a separate bowl, whisk together orange juice, honey and the rest of the vodka.

• Mix the wet and dry ingredients and let sit for 15 minutes.

• Spread evenly, about half an inch high, onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until edges are brown. Cut into squares.

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