Tag Archives: granola

So long

It’s been so long and how time flies, etc etc.  I’ve been tired and busy, alternately and sometimes at the same time.  But I have made some things.  Some good things.

First, I did make the plum cake discussed here.  It was an interesting cake.  I made some dramatic changes, which included taking out so much of the oil and replacing it with apple sauce.  I did this at the very last minute and without a lot of thought.  But, really, I thought the cake didn’t suffer much because of it.

I didn’t have plums, so I made a peach cake.  Unfortunately, the peaches were  awful.  Just a terrible batch. I didn’t have enough peaches (because so many were bad through and through), and what was left after cutting around the rotten bits was just not enough.  More fruit would have been nicer.  The cake also cooked up really fast, and this one was done just a bit too much (like 33 minute was at least 3 minutes too many).  The cake was very moist and had a strong brown sugar flavor (I used turbinado instead of the brown sugar that was called for.)  I would make it again, perhaps following the recipe a little more faithfully.  It has a lot of potential. (As an aside, when I asked the Fiend what she thought of the cake she said “it’s ok.  But it’s was not like that other one you made.  You know, the one with the crumbles on it.”  Then she glared at me meaningfully.)

I have also cooked up two more batches of Orangette’s french-style crack.  I just love love love that granola. I recommend it to all.  I finished my last batch today and have decided to institute a moratorium on the granola-making for just a little while.  Some people can manage a full-time job while on crack.  Not me though.

In an effort to make some actual savory food, I decided to focus on chickpeas for a week.  I got a small container of dried garbanzos at Fairway and soaked them all overnight.  (It’s a pain to cook the beans from dried, but there is no point to eating gross canned beans.  And in both recipes, using the dried beans made all the difference, taste-wise).  I thought I’d have so many chickpeas to try so many different recipes, but I was delusional.  It was a very small carton of beans, and I had unrealistic expectations about how much dried chickpeas would expand when rehydrated.  Anyway, I did have enough to attempt 2 different recipes, with very respectable results.  (My sister has the camera, so no photos today.  You’ll just have to rely on the far superior photos on the linked-to sites.  So sad, I know.)

First off:  the Unexpectedly Delicious (a/k/a Fried Egg Noodles are Tremendous).  As you might suspect, I did not know what to expect from this recipe.  I am not a noodle lover, but I was intrigued.  When I was putting it together, I worried that it might be bland. But, no.   So tasty, so filling.  So wonderful.

Instead of vegetable stock, I used Pacific Chicken Stock, which was on sale at Whole Foods.  I believe, however, that the sale only served to highlight how much cheaper the Whole Foods 365 Brand chicken stock was (even post sale).  Because the 365 shelf was wiped clean, while there was plenty of the Pacific brand left.  But, I’m glad it was there.  I thought it tasted miles better than most other chicken stocks so perhaps the price premium really means something.   The only other change to the recipe I made was using less oil than the recipe called for.  In the end, I added about 1.5T of oil instead of 3T to the finished product.

Oil and stock aside, without a doubt, the fried egg noodles  made this dish.   It’s a keeper.

Second recipe:  Where Initial Disappoint Turns to Appreciation and Then Delight.  I distrusted this recipe.  I think I picked it because it was simple.  There were just two steps:  dump everything in a pot and then stir.  But when I got around to it, the thought of just dumping everything in a pot together at the same time seemed fundamentally wrong.  Instead, I sauteed the onion, garlic (which I subbed for ginger) and the spices in (a reduced amount of) butter before adding the other ingredients, as I believe has been done in every other curry recipe ever made.  I unthinkingly added the “fire roasted” tomatoes not realizing until after how much I dislike the distraction of charred bits in my food.  I can’t even believe I bought the tomatoes. (See above re: chickpeas. I think I was engaged in disassociative/magical thinking while food shopping this weekend.)

In all of my taste tests while cooking, I was so disappointed.  All I could taste was char and a too strong tomato flavor.  I thought everything was ruined.  Before I put it away, though, I took a last taste-test and got a nice surprise.  Somehow, over the course of several hours (as I bitterly ignored the curry on the countertop), something happened and the flavors came together nicely.  The chickpeas took on a really nice creamy taste (absolutely my favorite part of the dish).  And the charred bits stopped bothering me.  This is not an intensely flavored dish, but it’s actually really pleasant.  Next time, I might try this curry recipe out just because the reviews are so good, and it seems to be spicier.  But I was not disappointed.

I want to become a crock pot queen this fall.  (I said crock, not crack.  I told you I’m off that stuff–temporarily).  While at Fairway, I also got a small container of dried black beans that have a future as a chili and perhaps a black bean and rice dish.  Many, many moons ago, when I was at school in Boston, a friend came over and made a black beans and rice meal that I still think about, and I want to re-create it.  So let me know if you’ve got any ideas about that.   Also, I see a chiffon cake in my very near future.

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I had a three-stage granola plan

Stage One: Learn to make a nice granola that I like to eat. I don’t really like commercial granola and my (one?) previous attempt was not memorable. But the idea of granola is very appealing to me. It seems wholesome and filling and–this is key– is frequently a topping for yogurt.

Stage Two: The next step was to use granola as a gateway–a key that would unlock the portal (if you will permit some vague Buffy-speak)– to enjoyment of plain, unsweetened yogurt. I would like to like plain yogurt. Problem is, I barely like regular, sugary, fruity yogurt. In fact, it’s really only the Australian-style Wallaby’s yogurt that I like (it’s creamy and mild-tasting). But that stuff is expensive and full of sugar, and I have to go to Whole Foods or Fairway to get it (annoying).

So, for many reasons, the idea of switching to unsweetened probiotic bacteria cultures appeals to me. To that end, I have purchased a Wallaby’s plain yogurt tub and plan to learn how to enjoy eating it in some fashion. And granola is part of that plan. (As is agave syrup. Because I can’t go from all sweet to no sweet without some help.)

Stage Three: Wean myself off the granola and (perhaps) the agave and learn to tolerate plain yogurt with just some fruit and maybe honey, as recommended by Marion Nestle in her great (but disturbing) book What to Eat (short answer: nothing whose labeling contains a health claim).

Will this ever happen? About the unsweetened, plain yogurt, I don’t know. Frankly, it’s a long shot. And the bit about weaning myself off the granola now seems extremely unlikely as I have, on first attempt, located an ideal granola recipe, which has crack-like addictive properties.

I can’t say I wasn’t warned. I was. I just didn’t believe it that I’d be unable to stop eating it or that I might need to make a double batch. And now I am in a terrible way.

Orangette’s recipe is really easy to put together. I bought the chocolate and the shredded coconut weeks ago in anticipation of making this. The recipe, which is very slightly adapted from the Orangette recipe, which was in turn an adaptation of a recipe from David Lebovitz’s Perfect Scoop, calls for:

3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used a little less than 1/2 cup and used 40% reduced fat coconut to no apparent ill effect).

2T sugar

6T honey (I think next time I’d try it with just a little less sugar. Like maybe 1/2T less of the granulated and 3/4 or 1T less of the honey).

2T vegetable oil (I used canola)

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup almonds (which I thought I had. Alas, no. I subbed in mostly pecans with a few walnuts to excellent effect. I probably like those nuts better than almonds anyway, and they worked really well with the oats and honey.)

1/2 cup of bittersweet chocolate. I used a Sirius chocolate bar (from Iceland via Whole Foods), which is just my favorite right now. Creamy and delicious.

Preheat oven to 300F.

Mix the dry ingredients (except chocolate) in a bowl.

Then, in a small pot, carefully whisk the honey and oil together under low heat. When the honey is smooth and liquid-y, pour onto the granola mixture. Mix well and put mixture in a bake pan.

I have to admit that at this point, I had a crisis of confidence. I don’t know if it was confidence in the recipe, in myself, or in the concept of granola generally. But it all seemed too simple and bland. I almost panicked and added some other kind of flavoring. I considered vanilla extract and cinnamon. But then I remembered that cinnamon, especially, has ruined every batch of granola it was ever added to. And that I have not enjoyed vanilla flavored granola in the past. Too cloying. I decided to let the panic pass and just cook the damn granola.

As recommended, I stirred the granola half way through the 20 minunte cooking time. My crisis of confidence had not completely subsided at the 20 minute mark:

This looked too pale. Still too bland. I feared a granola-based disaster. I was about to find out, however, that I had just cooked up my very first batch of crack. Did you ever watch Breaking Bad? You know, the first time Hal cooks up meth. And then the drug dealer realizes that it’s pure and near perfect. It was like that.

I hesitated before eating the first spoonful. And before I chewed, again in mild state of panic, I popped a bit of the chopped chocolate (which I had not yet added to the hot granola) into my mouth so that I would not be overly afflicted by the plain granola. How unnecessary that turned out to be. My goodness, the warm, nutty, flavorful first bite did not even need the chocolate. But the chocolate! Oh, the chocolate! So so good.

And the first bite led the second and so on and so forth. Until I could not believe how much of the granola I could eat. Once I realized how good the granola was, I was in a rush to eat more of it, and I ended up adding the chocolate to the granola when it was still a bit too warm. But that turned out to be a delicious mistake. The chocolate, which I chopped sort of finely, melted in places and mixed together with the oats and nuts in the most wonderful clumps.

It would not be sad if you increased the chocolate in the granola by 50% or even 100%. Though, as it is, it’s not exactly low-calorie so I will try to hold off doing that.

I only brought a small amount of the granola to work today. It was meant to be a snack. In the afternoon. Perhaps with some yogurt (see 3-stage plan above) or a bit of milk. Yeah. The granola didn’t make it past 10am, and at first I was grateful I hadn’t brought more. It was so delicious that I was afraid to add milk to it (as recommended) for fear of ruining it. I did add a bit of milk to the last few bites, and I can confirm the granola is also excellent with milk. But by mid-afternoon, I soley regretted my temperance. I really needed more granola.

Problem now is that this granola is pretty much too good to eat with yogurt. So I’m back to square–or stage–one in the plan to conquer plain yogurt.

Postscript: After I wrote the post but before posting it, I started to wonder if maybe I had over-hyped the crack-like properties of the granola in my own mind. After I got home again though, I found myself standing over the granola container with a plastic spoon in my hand, just eating and eating it. Next thing I knew, everyone else was around me also eating it. It’s powerful stuff.

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