Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Strawberry Oatmeal Jam Bars and the Carlsbad Flower Fields

Ahhh, Spring.  Everything seems to wake up this time of year.  Butterflies flit about freshly planted gardens, early birds try to one up each other while catching that poor worm, and Mother Nature's bounty stretches its leaves skyward while bringing the brilliance of color back into our lives.

Carlsbad, California provides its own color show at the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch.  Devoting 50 acres to the cultivation of the Tecolote® Giant Ranunculus, springtime brings ribbons of spectacular colors stretching behind the Carlsbad Outlet Mall just off of I-5.

From mid-March through early May the beautiful Ranunculus transform the otherwise dry coastal hills into fields of coordinated color.  A working farm, the flowers themselves are harvested for market, while the plants work to produce additional bulbs which will also be harvested and some replanted.

Flowers of white, yellow, orange, red, pink and purple are grown in the rows providing the brilliant colors, and anyone can walk along the paths through the fields for a close up look.  A highly popular tourist attraction, many locals also make annual visits to the flower fields and have years of flower photographs documenting the growth of the kids (I'm one of those locals).

Rumor has it from some of my native Carlsbad friends, that the fields used to be just that, fields, not an attraction.  Many have fond memories of running through the brilliant colors while playing hide and seek amongst the flowers.  Today, however, one needs a ticket ($11 for adults - but check for deals or use your AAA card) to enter the event.  The property, though, includes so much more than flowers.

A must stop, is the Sweet Pea Maze lined with my beloved sweet pea blossoms.  Seemingly easy to navigate, even adults will make a wrong turn or two as they maneuver through the fragrant rows of flowers.  Taking my Girl Scout Troop to the fields a number of years ago, the girls spent over an hour running through the maze, re-entering after completion and then helping others who seemed to be lost.  Always a popular stop for kids and adults alike.

Another favorite stop has always been the "Carlsbad Mining Company" where kids of all ages can try their hand at sluicing for treasure just like the original California 49ers.  Liv still has a box filled with polished rocks from her years of mining adventures at the fields.  Put on by a local Gemological Society, the volunteers are always smiling and eager to help identify what rock or gem your particular treasure has born.

While walking through the fields is indeed a treat, little ones as well as elderly visitors may have difficulty navigating the dirt paths and hills.  Luckily, antique tractor wagon rides are available allowing everyone to get around the property.  Yes, the rides to come at a $5 fee, but the kids have always loved them and for those not desiring a walk the antique wagons are a fun option.

Entering the property, kids will be given a "passport", a little booklet directing them around the property.  To keep the little ones motivated and moving, stations have been set up throughout the event where you can stamp your passport.  Fill up your book with stamps and you get a discount at the Mining Company when you pan for your treasure.  Kids seem to run from station to station so excited to get the next stamp.

Exiting through the Armstrong Garden Center at the foot of the fields one has the opportunity to purchase their own bulbs or blooming plants in addition to buying a little taste of Carlsbad.  Jams, sauces, and honey from some of our favorite local restaurants are also available in the Garden Center.  Spice up your grilled chicken with Pizza Port's Carlsbad Chronic Bar-B-Que Sauce or perhaps you would prefer Stone Brewing Company's Levitation Ale version.  The Carlsbad Gourmet will heat up your eggs with a dash of Caliente Hot Sauce, or you may prefer to sweeten up your morning bagel with a dollop of Strawberry Lilikoi Spread.

Leaving the fields yesterday, I simply couldn't pass up that Strawberry Lilikoi Spread, and sweeten up our day it did.  A simple oatmeal bar spread with the jam and then baked with an additional crumble over the top brought spring right into our kitchen.

Strawberry Oatmeal Jam Bars
Sweetened with jam, these hearty oatmeal bars made for a delightful spring treat. Perfect for a picnic, Easter Dinner, bunco dessert or simply a sweet breakfast, the ease of preparation will make these bars a regular in my kitchen.

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 (generous) tsp salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter, softened and cut into small squares
3/4 cup (generous) Carlsbad Gourmet Strawberry Lilikoi Spread (or your favorite fruit preserve)
1/3 cup chopped strawberries

Preheat oven to 350º.  Spray an 8 inch square pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine the brown sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and rolled oats, stirring to combine.  Drop the butter into the flour mixture and rub with your fingers or a pastry blender to from a crumble.  Press about 2 cups of the mixture into the prepared pan and spread the jam over the top.  Sprinkle the chopped strawberries over the jam and then sprinkle with the remaining crumble mixture, gently pressing the crumble into the top of the jam.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the bars are lightly browned.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.  Allow the bars to cool before cutting into squares or desired shapes.


  1. Oooo, those bars look delightfully yummy!

    And the flower photos are absolutely gorgeous!

  2. I wish the flowers were blooming in my neck of the woods like they are there! Your photos are lovely! These jam bars sound delicious, I especially love that you have used strawberry :)!

  3. Absolutely beautiful. A sea of flowers. Just gorgeous. All I can utter are words of beauty.

  4. Wow, those flower fields remind me of the Netherlands :) Gorgeous pictures!
    The bars look amazingly tasty.

  5. beautiful post and pictures delicious looking snack

  6. Kim, I jetted over from Facebook for a glimpse of these glorious flowers. I know these fields well, they beckon your attention from the 5, and you've captured them beautifully in pictures. The jam bars are just as inspired and a sweet (sunny) ending to your post. Brava!

  7. Those pictures are just gorgeous, Kim! What beautiful flowers... I feel like I got to visit the flower fields too!

    I love the bars and I am adding them to my ever-growing must-make list, but high up in my priority section! LOL :D This sounds like something I would really, really enjoy! Thanks for sharing :)

  8. How gorgeous! I'd be perfectly happy to just lie in the midst of all those flowers ... sigh! Bliss ... at least until I get stepped on by some visitor.
    I love the strawberry bars too. I've just made some jam and then still having some fruit left ... oh, this is so perfect! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    PS: And if mine turns out as pretty (or almost) would you mind if I make a post out of it? Ta.

  9. Your flower fields are absolute beauty. The fact that your oatmeal jam crumb bars look even more gorgeous to me must really mean something :D

    See you in a week :)
    Happy Easter
    Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself

  10. Those flowers! My goodness how colorful and bright those are! So amazing.

    Not as amazing as your bars though. What a treat for the spring!

  11. Look at all those gorgeous flowers!! Such a great place to go visit.
    The bars sound amazing with that jelly!

  12. These bars look so yummy and amazing! Great photos. :)

  13. OMG Look at all those gorgeous flowers!! Such a great place to go visit and take pictures at...I wanna go!

    Hello there friend...geez..I've been a busy traveling bee as you can see - my 4 nephews are really tiring me out...but I am enjoying every single second.

    xoxo from Michigan

  14. You live in paradise, Kim...those flowers are just stunning! And I just love oatmeal in baked goods...and your bars look fabulous!

  15. How fun is that for the kids. I love mother nature, she surprises us with the best gifts. Love the jam bars too. Just wanted to stop by and wish you and your family Happy Easter.

  16. Beautiful photos, what an awesome place!

  17. What a magical place! I have lots of freezer jam put away that NEEDS to be used for this recipe!

  18. Kim,
    The fields of flowers are gorgeous, and so fun to romp through. the oatmeal bars are a perfect ending to a perfect outing.

  19. the oatmeal bars seem easy enough. i will have to try them out sometime.

  20. Beautiful post Kim~we are so blessed to live in such a beautiful community and your bars look great will have to try, I love the Carlsbad Gourmet Products...delicous!

  21. The fields look to be such a beautiful site! And I love the idea of these strawberry oatmeal bars with that jam!

  22. How pretty! I definitely need to visit those fields.

    And that recipe looks like heaven on a plate!

    I'd love to feature this post on our San Diego-based site. Email me for details.

    shondra (at) dwellable (dot) com



Your comments make our hearts sing!