31 January 2011


Like my search for the perfect basic bread recipe, I have been trying, discarding, and tweaking granola recipes for the past year or so. Until finally. I have it the way I like it. Each time I make it, I give a little away, and I've had enough positive feedback that it's time to post a recipe. I honestly have no idea the path this recipe has taken (I typically like to cite my sources), so I can only report on the final product.

Granola di Anita
(sorry, just feeling a bit Italian at the moment!)
Yield: about 8 cups (I usually make a double batch)

4 c. rolled oats (I sometimes use 1/2 barley flakes if I have them)
1/4 c. each wheat bran and ground flax*
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup nuts (I always include raw cashews if I have them)

3 TBSP butter
3 TBSP vegetable oil
1/4 c. honey
2 TBSP molasses
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp each vanilla and maple flavoring
2 TBSP water

1 c. flake coconut
1 c. dried fruit (figs, apricots, cranberries, currants, raisins, etc.--mix and match!)

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 325F. Mix the DRY ingredients together in a big bowl. Next, mix WET ingredients by melting butter (or just use all veg. oil if you like) and then adding the other ingredients, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir to coat. WAIT to add the coconut and fruit (they will burn if you bake them in from the beginning. I know.) Spread granola on baking sheets (one 11 x 14 for a single batch) and bake for 10 minutes. Stir granola and rotate trays (if you are using more than one), then bake another 10 minutes and stir again. NOW add your coconut and dried fruit. Bake another 10 minutes. Finally, let cool . . . undisturbed! Your granola will have a mental breakdown and literally crumble if you stir it while cooling. So if you want it to chunk together, DO NOT TOUCH (okay, you can snitch a taste or two while it cools if you must). When completely cool, package in plastic containers or ziplock bags to store. Will keep for weeks (if it lasts that long!).

*Just leave out the wheat bran for gluten-free granola. You can substitute oat bran if you like.

Fish Soup

I found a recipe in a Mediterranean cookbook I have for fish baked in a tomato-olive sauce that looked really good. Great way to finish off those two last fillets in the freezer. Um. Make that one fillet in the freezer. No problem. I turned the "sauce" into broth and when the fish was cooked, I flaked it into pieces for a fish soup! I loved the combination of flavors! The broth consisted of sauteed onions, tomato paste, pepper paste, and water. After the fish was cooked, I added chopped black olives, fresh cilantro, and salt & pepper to taste. Just writing about it is making me hungry! And now that I've bought more fish . . . could be anytime!

28 January 2011

Holiday Eating

This is Christmas Eve . . . Pozole and Tamales

When I was shopping at the local Asian/Latino grocery store before Christmas, my friend who works there asked, "So, are you making anything special for Christmas? Tamales?" Well, I hadn't been planning on it . . . but why not?! I had just seen tamal-making in operation at work and I was at the place where I could buy all the supplies. I went for it, and it was so much fun!

I made two different sauces--a mole ("mol-ay", which is a Mexican chili-chocolate sauce) and a tomatillo-jalapeno sauce. We used chicken and prunes with the mole and ground venison with the green sauce. I went ahead and cooked the meats so I wouldn't have to worry about them cooking inside the tamales. I found a masa recipe online that didn't call for lard, and bought banana leaves to wrap them in. Then we went to work! After wrapping them up, they were placed over water in a steamer basket (one of those fold-out kind) in my big stockpot and steamed for about an hour.

While the steaming was going on, I had plenty of time to make pozole--a chicken, hominy soup in a mildly tomato-y broth. While the soup itself is a little bland you get to have fun adding all the fresh toppings--cilantro, diced tomatoes, green onions, and lime juice!

My sister-in-law and her husband were coming down from Pennsylvania to have lunch with us, and I regret to say the tamales kept us waiting . . . I hadn't planned on the appropriate amount of time to let them steam. But, when all was "said and done" we had a mighty feast and enjoyed it to!

Later in the day, we went Asian with fresh spring rolls for a dinner with my family. I wasn't quite as happy with these results as with the tamales and pozole. I undercooked the rice noodles a tad, and I think we made the rolls a bit too fat. But with all those fresh herbs, flavor itself was salvaged! Better luck next time.

Cook's Word: Tamales and pozole: could definitely become a tradition. Spring rolls? The jury is out.