Saturday, January 28, 2012

Move Over, Val's Granola

Oh man, I am SUCH a goner.

Do you know how many calories I've consumed in the form of this granola TODAY ALONE??

Me neither, and I prefer to keep it that way.  I usually don't deviate from my own treasured granola recipe.  It's lovely.  It's not too sweet.  It's fragrant.  It's damn good.  People love the living crap out of it!  But, truth be told, for me at least, it isn't addictive.  I love every single bite, I do!  But usually, a small portion satisfies me and then I'm on my merry way.  I like it like that.  It's a bit labor intensive to make, too, so I don't make it that often, and it is always a treat when I do.

But this stuff is as easy to make as it is to inhale. It's sweet & savory, salty & crunchy and completely addictive. Reminds me a bit of really good caramel corn.  You keep reaching your hand back into the bag for another handful, just one more handful, and then, just one more after that.  Until the bag is empty and you're turning it inside out to dump the crumbs into the palm of your hand, looking around to make sure no one sees you licking said crumbs off of said palm.

So, as much as I love this stuff, I don't think I'll be making it again any time soon, or if I do, it'll only be to give to people as gifts.  Don't get me wrong!  This here is a glowing endorsement.  I just find it prudent not to keep things that are this sweet and full of carbs around my house.  I even cut back on the sweetness, using a little less than 1/2 cup maple syrup when the recipe calls for 3/4 cup.  I've read recommendations elsewhere that suggest taming the sweetness a bit, and I think that's a good call.  Even with just under half a cup of maple syrup, this batch was still plenty sweet.  Not sweet enough to hurt the teeth, but just enough to make me want to eat the entire batch in one setting!  And I nearly did.  And I bet you will too, just as soon as you try it out for yourself.  Enjoy, and be sure to give a lot of it away to spread those happy delicious calories around!


Makes about 7 cups

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled

1 cup raw sunflower seeds, hulled - (I used coarsely chopped almonds instead of sunflower seeds)

1 cup unsweetened coconut chips

1 1/4 cup raw pecans, left whole or coarsely chopped

3/4 cup pure maple syrup - (I used just under 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar

Coarse salt

Heat oven to 300 degrees.

Place oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, pecans, syrup, olive oil, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl and mix until well combined. Spread granola mixture in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until granola is toasted, about 45 minutes.

Remove granola from oven and season with more salt to taste. Let cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Happy 2012!

Happy 2012!

It's a New Year, indeed.  Hope your holidays were fab.  I enjoyed some really nice time away from work.  Spent some of it lazing around the house, some of it working around the house, enjoyed some garden time (finally cleared out the summer garden remnants and planted more kale, yay!), read a ton, and had a wonderful visit with my whole family.  Did some baking, too!  The pizzelle baking has become an annual tradition now, as has the overconsumption of said pizzelles by the baker.  Thank goodness for that other annual tradition, the January cleanse!  Although truth be told, my regimen is not much of a cleanse this year.  For this month I've cut out alcohol and am eating sensibly, avoiding most sugar, fried foods and the like.  And I'm starting each day with an awesome smoothie made in my new Vitamix blender, OMG!!!  It leaves all the other blenders in the dust.  I have wanted one for the longest time.  This thing can puree like nobody's business.  Whole fruits and vegetables become smooth as butter.  I've been using it to make shakes, juices, sauces, even coconut milk!  It's the bomb and I am so so happy that I finally get to have my very own, courtesy of my brand new Grandma.  Well, she's not exactly brand new, but rather new to me, by way of that sweet husband of mine.  And what a gem she is.  Besides being a kind and generous human being, she's also sharp as a tack.  I miss my own grandparents a lot, and didn't get to enjoy them for nearly long enough before they left this world, so it's a treat to get to have a Grandma again at this stage of life. I appreciate her very much!

Besides the magical blender, I'm also the fortunate recipient of some really great cookbooks.  The first was a gift from my friend Mel:  My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy's Undiscovered South, by Rosetta Costantino with Janet Fletcher.  Although so far, I've only made one recipe from it, I'm sure that I'll be going back to this again and again.  On Christmas, we made Polpette di Melanzane - crispy eggplant "meat"balls.  They were such a hit, even the carnivores reached for seconds!  I'm really excited to try many of the recipes in this book, like Spaghetti with Salt Cod and a Spicy Tomato Sauce, Creamy Chick Pea Soup with Shrimp and Anise Seed,  and Fresh Tuna Pizzo Style with Wine Vinegar, Garlic, and Mint.

I also got Bi-Rite Market's Eat Good Food: A Grocer's Guide to Shopping, Cooking & Creating Community Through Food, by Sam Mogannam and Dabney Gough.  Although I live in the Bay Area, I haven't been to the Bi-Rite Market proper.  I have been to the Bi-Rite Creamery and do declare their ice cream to be some of the most incredible that I've ever had!  The recipes in this book look great.  I'm particularly excited to try the Red Quinoa and Tofu Salad with Ginger and Pickled Daikon, the Winter Lentil Salad with Roasted Root Veggies, and the Curried Coconut Sweet Potato Mash.

I'm also quite excited about Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry, by Liana Krissoff.  I don't have much in the way of resolutions this year, but I do resolve to make more things from scratch, and I'm excited to fill my pantry (and my stomach!) with homemade things in pretty jars (well, the homemade things will go in the stomach, but not the jars!).  Lots of inventive flavor combinations in this book - like Strawberry and Lemon Preserves, Pickled Sugar Snap Peas with Mint, and Cardamom Plum Jam.

Yes, 2012 is going to be the year of More Homemade around here.  Here are just a few of the things I'm planning to make from scratch this year, some of them for the first time:  yogurt, tofu, tempeh, tomato paste, mustard, and vinegar, and Dad's Sauce.

I can hardly believe that it's been a whole year (and then some!) since I watched my Dad make the family recipe for meat sauce, and I wrote it down, and I proclaimed here on this very blog that I was going to make it in the coming year.  Well, the year came and the year went and I never did make it.  Not gonna let another year pass without making it!  I might even break out the pasta machine and make fresh pasta to go with it.  Of course, this will have to happen after January, which already seems to be flying right by.

Wishing you many fine meals and happy, healthy times in 2012!