Homemade Granola Goodness


We eat a lot of granola at our house.  I usually buy the healthiest I can find at my local grocery store, but most of it has some form of processed sugar in it – even the “natural” brands – and it’s a bit expensive.  $3.50 for 8 oz.  So, after discovering my sweet husband had late night snacked away what I was saving for my breakfast this morning, I decided enough is enough.  I’m going to start making my own granola again.  It is a little time consuming, and I would much rather be in my quilting studio (okay, the spare bedroom with a few shelves and my sewing machine), but I splurged at my weekly trip to Natural Grocers this morning and bought the ingredients for homemade granola.  Its in the oven now and smells wonderful baking away with its orangey aroma.

I thought I would share my recipe just in case anyone else out there finds themselves in a granola dilemma.  A lot of this is just hit and miss on the amounts, so it may take some practice to achieve the consistency you like personally – dryer or stickier (my personal preference.)


Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Combine the following:

2 lb. box or bag regular rolled oats (not quick cooking)

8 oz. unsweetened shredded coconut

16 oz. natural almonds (I use whole almonds)

6 oz. chopped pecans

3 oz. chopped walnuts

8 oz. bag natural dates (not sugar coated), chopped

6 oz. bag dried apricots (I used Sun Maid brand), chopped

1-1/4  cup or 1/2 box of Sun Maid Golden Raisins

approx. 1/2-3/4 cup Chia seeds

approx. 1/2 cup milled flax seed

Mix all this together really well in a really big bowl with a really big spoon!

Next  you will need your oil and sweetener.  I use organic extra virgin coconut oil.  You really must use the organic extra virgin kind to get quality coconut oil, only available as far as I know, at natural grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, Sprouts and health food stores. I haven’t found organic extra virgin coconut oil at my local run of the mill grocery store. If you can’t find good coconut oil, use organic light olive oil. If you use regular vegetable oil, you might as well just throw it all away, in my opinion. Coconut oil is SOOOOO much better for you. If you don’t believe me, check out Dr. Axe’s website.  But I digress.  Here is also where my approximations are really approximate.  I used two really heaping regular teaspoons (not measuring spoon teaspoons) of coconut oil and melted it in the microwave.  Stovetop melting is always better to maintain molecular consistency, but I was in a hurry.  So I’m going to call it:

1/2 cup melted Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Go ahead and mix that in the oats mixture from above.

Next you’ll need sweetener.  I use unprocessed honey.  I finished off a little that was in a jar of regular honey (about 1/4 cup), and then added my absolute favorite honey in all the world: Tangerine Honey from Walker’s Honey Farm Store.  There is a little store down in Rogers, Texas, where my sweet cousins live.  Every time I get to go for a visit, I stock up on Walker’s honey.  Its a family owned business that’s been around since my Mom was a girl.  I found it in the Natural Grocers in Temple, Texas, but I know you can order online.  This is where your stickiness preference comes into play.  I used 1/2 of a jar and would have used more, but it is my last jar and I must some to spoon with organic peanut butter for my midnight snack!  So I’m going to call it:

3/4-1 cup honey or more to taste

Start with less, you can always add more.

Mix the honey in well.  This is what mine looks like in the bowl.


Now, you’re ready to bake it.  I spread mine out on cookie sheets, not too full.  Like this.


This recipe makes about 5 cookie sheets worth, which is a LOT of granola.  So, feel free to half the recipe if you need to.  Now she tells us.

Bake in your preheated 250 degree for a total of 30 to 45 minutes.  BUT – and this is important – bake it in 15 minute increments – and give it a good stir after each 15 minutes.  My oven will hold two cookie sheets at a time, so I am looking at being tied to the house for a couple of hours to complete the baking, but it is so worth it.  Mix your granola, pop it in the oven, set the timer and go clean that bathroom!!!  Don’t forget to take the timer with you!  This is what mine looks like after 45 minutes.


It tastes a little burned after 45 minutes in my oven.  Next time I will try just 30 minutes.  So, I will put this in a bowl to cool and then move to glass jars for storage.

Oops, forgot to set the timer. Be right back.  That could be disastrous with my gnat-like attention span.

Okay.  While I’m waiting for another 15 minutes to pass, let me tell you about another favorite stop down around Rogers.  (Rogers and Temple are just about 1 hour north of Austin if that helps).  I’m talking about Green’s Sausage House in Zabcikville, Texas, just about 14 miles from Temple on Highway 53.  The BEST homemade German sausage you have ever put in your mouth.  They take online orders, too.  Just saying.  They also make good kolaches.

Well, I guess that’s it for now.  I really should post stuff more often.  This is fun.

Keep it simple, ya’ll.

Oh My Aching Heart

We have to let our children go.  Its a hard fact of life.  I have been suffering terrible separation anxiety this week over sending our son to Japan to work for one to two years.  He’s not a child, by any means.  He’s a 27 year old man who has been struggling since he graduated from college.   Like so many of his generation, a college degree doesn’t necessarily translate into a job.  He’s been searching for 2-1/2 years, applying and being turned down over and over again, all the while working at Wal-Mart.  He moved back home summer of 2014, not wanting to commit to another lease, hoping he would soon be finding a good job.

I have to keep reminding myself of all the nights he came home SO frustrated and angry from work, so unhappy, so depressed.  We have prayed and prayed for the Lord to open doors for him.  He got an ESL certification to teach English as a second language and that opened doors for interviews for him, but again, no job offers.  Just when he was thinking about looking for an apartment again and settling for any job he could find, he was offered a job in Japan, as an assistant English teacher in a middle school.  His initial contract is for one year with possible extension to two.

So after going through this emotional turmoil when he left for college (my husband had to remind me he wasn’t dead, just a 45 minute drive away), for some reason its just as hard or even harder this time.  Emotions are funny things.  I’ve been reminding myself that he needs this.  And he does!  He was in that awful spot between having the education but no experience.  This is a wonderful opportunity for him to get the experience he needs.  After waiting and praying for so long, the Lord just put everything into place:  paid airfare there and home when he is done at some point; a furnished apartment for which they subsidize  his rent; people meeting him at the airport in Tokyo and then at the train station in his work city.

He’s only been off the plane a few hours at this point, and I hope he is sleeping in his hotel room in Tokyo.  I’ll be better when he is able to contact us once he gets an Internet connection.  I’ll be even better when we can start Skyping.  But right now, I am still in physical pain – probably from lack of sleep more than anything – and tears come way too easily.

It helps to write it down, so thanks for letting me vent.  God is good!  He has a plan for my son’s life and this is just one step in the right direction.  Now, for my heart to make the adjustment.

Native Garden Project Finished- Woohoo!!

I had a date this morning – with 40 bags of Grade A cedar mulch.  Fortunately I didn’t have to tackle it alone.  My husband opened and poured while I raked and spread.

Just to recap………

This is what we started with about 6 weeks ago.

This is what we started with about 6 weeks ago.

Next came a back wrenching day with the sod cutter that gave us this….

After setting border

After setting border

Then the native plants were in place and the soaker hose laid down….

The trial run was a success.  Even, drippy moisture.

The trial run was a success. Even, drippy moisture.

And today- ta da!!!- mulch!!

The plants are young and it was almost impossible to get the 3" depth the landscaper suggested.  And we should have evened up the surface a little more.

The plants are young and it was almost impossible to get the 3″ depth the landscaper suggested. And we should have evened up the surface a little more.

Here are a couple of closeups….



Ozark Bluestar

Ozark Bluestar

Here is the complete list of natives we planted: purple muhly grass, prairie rose, hibiscus, penstemon, goldenrod, coneflower, blue sage, joe pye, bergamot, beautyberry, false indigo, Ozark bluestar and prairie blazing star.  And of course, an Eastern redbud tree.  I don’t expect any blooms this year, but everything is still healthy after being in the ground almost two weeks.

So…..on to the next project.  No rest of the wicked.  Since we still had a LITTLE energy left after laying the mulch, we cleaned the old mulch and inches of spilled birdseed out of the old beds next to the patio and spread mulch on them.  Oh, did I mention that we only used 29 of the 40 bags.  There was no way we could have used them all – and I cut down the number from the 50 the landscaper told me to buy.  Then around to the front yard where I planted this is my grandmother’s old washpot.

I lovethe tall Spike in the middle.  Behind it is aspargus ferns, Black Dragon for contrast, impatients and Moneywort.

I love the tall Spike in the middle. Behind it is aspargus ferns, Black Dragon for contrast, impatients and Moneywort.

My husband cut the seat out of this old chair in the large bed in the front.  I zip-tied a basket with coconut husk liner, but ran out of potting soil.  I’m not sure what I’m going to plant in it.  There’s  not much to choose from for shade plants.


This should be really nice with plants “growing” out of the seat.

Speaking of potting soil, I’ve never really found one I like that will hold moisture.  I found this at Organics OKC.  Pricey, but hopefully worth it.


Lots of good stuff in it. Should have for $18 a bag.

I’m off to email my native plant images to Habitat Hero in Colorado.  Although Oklahoma doesn’t have a local chapter, they are interested in native gardens everywhere.  Susan J. Tweit is one of the founders.  She’s been my inspiration.

So,what else is on the list….vacuum, clean bathrooms (ugh), laundry, fresh sheets on the bed, work on baby quilt….refill tea glass, lay down, turn on Netflix, watch episode of Foyle’s War.  Yeah, I like that list better :).

Simple blessings to all!



The Natives Make Me Restless

Forty-five native Oklahoma plants were delivered yesterday! Forty-five!!!!  Guess I lost my head a little. Now to get them in the ground. Feeling just a little overwhelmed and restless to get out there in this gorgeous weather.  It’s an absolutely wonderful day out there – light breeze (okay, so its windy, but after all, this is spring in Oklahoma) sunshine, perfect temps.

Wild bergamot, goldenrod, and friends

Wild bergamot, goldenrod, and friends

Climbing Prairie Rose, Hibiscus, Muhly Grass

Climbing Prairie Rose, Hibiscus, Muhly Grass

Didn’t realize the Prairie Rose was the climbing variety.  Will have to re-think a location for it.  I guess I will have to wait until the irises bloom and wither, then remove some of them and plant the rose to climb up the post of the pergola.  The challenge will be keeping them alive in their plastic pots for a while.

Can’t wait to see the new bed finished.  Got the False Indigo planted last night before it got too dark to see what I was doing.

Okay, back to work.  Have a simple kind of day!


On the Bluebonnet Trail

The Great Bluebonnet Expedition of 2014 was a success. The weather kinda sucked, but it was okay. We got some good pics.

I have to admit, in my own mind, part of the motivation for the trip was to recapture the joy of summers spent on the edge of the Hill Country visiting grandparents and cousins.  I remember the enjoyment  of turning off the interstate onto the 2-lane road that took us through the edge of town out to the country, through 14 bucolic miles of corn fields and grazing cows.  Being a city girl, miles and miles of growing corn and the black heavy soil of the farmland was an oddity.  Another strong memory is the sound of gravel crunching under the tires as we pulled into the driveway of my Dad’s parents’ farm and my grandmother being at the screen door on the back porch to welcome us.  She always had Snickers in the freezer and the most delicious pot roast you’ve ever tasted cooking in the oven.  Today, I realize her’s tasted so good, not necessarily because of any great culinary skill on her part, but because the beef was grass-fed on their own land and never treated with antibiotics and growth hormones.

Of course, over the years the landscape has changed.  New stacked highway interchanges, hotels and restaurant chains now line the once serene stretch of road that led to my grandparents’ house.  The cousins I once spent weeks at a time with were all too busy for even a brief visit this time.  Adult children and grandkids take precedence over see-you-every-couple-of-years cousins.

So, putting aside the disappointment of my inner child (admittedly tempered by the purchase of jars of honey and locally made German sausage), we set out on the trek for bluebonnets.  After we finally figured out that we needed to get off the large, fast state highways and onto narrow county and ranch roads, we found an abundance of photo ops. We talked to a waiter at a great burger place in Marble Falls and he told us exactly which roads to take for the best results. He was right.  County Road 200 and Ranch Road 1741 provided a peaceful and colorful afternoon’s entertainment.

ImageI love the limestone architecture of the farmhouses and the huge expanses of pasture studded with mesquite trees, cactus and bluebonnets.


We spent some time in Burnet at the Bluebonnet Festival.  Love the huge bluebonnet sculpture in front of the Town Hall.


There was a sweet young family from Sage Creek Farm selling soaps and crocheted baby items made by the mom and beautiful wooden cutting boards and French rolling pins made by the dad.   Wish I had had more cash to spend.  I love to see a new generation of hand-makers, simple-lifers coming of age.  It gives me hope for the future.


More bluebonnets.


On the way back to Oklahoma, we drove to downtown Dallas (scary!) to Dealy Plaza, the location of the assassination of JFK.  We’d been wanting to make the trip for a long time, so this was the perfect opportunity.  It was very surreal.  I was 8 when he was killed, and I remember seeing it all on TV.  To see the street with the Xs marking the spots of the bullet strikes, the grassy knoll and fence, the School Book Depository building all right there, made it all so real.  I’m glad we didn’t make a special trip previously, because we only spent about 30 minutes at the site. A place where America’s path was changed forever.

Too gloomy!  Back to the bluebonnets!  Here’s one more pic.  Have a great day everyone and keep it simple!

Patience with an Attitude

Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting – Unknown

I will be the first to admit that patience is not a virture I possess.  Once I make a plan, I want fruition now, thank you very much. My latest test of patience is our new backyard landscaping project.


I posted this picture a while back.

After hours battling a sod cutter and hauling loads of crumbling clay and grass, resulting in sore muscles, liberal applications of ice packs and downing of multiple Ibuprofen, this was the result.


You get the general idea of the curves.

Anybody want some free dirt ?

Anybody want some free dirt ?

Last weekend, after riding 33 miles in a bicycle fund raiser, my husband helped me haul 65 concrete edgers to the back yard, load after heavy wheelbarrow load.  We hit it again Sunday afternoon and got the last one in place just as it started to rain.

I'm really pleased with the result.

I’m really pleased with the result.

Don’t know if you can see it, but there is a very young redbud tree planted in the corner.

Bloom wannabe.

Bloom wannabe.

We’re living in redbud heaven right now.  The Oklahoma state trees are in their full glory, blooming in colors ranging from light pink to dark fuchsia.   I think the one we planted will be the light pink variety.  I love the lacy airiness of the mature tree.

Our's should look like this in a few years.

Our’s should look like this in a few years.

The blooms stand out against the bright green new leaves and still bare branches of trees around them. They show up everywhere- in landscaped lawns and the natural wooded areas that line local creeks.

Now comes the patience part.  It will be another two weeks before my young native plants can be weaned from the greenhouse at  Wild Things Nursery.

Since we are at a standstill, we decided to take a trip to the Texas hill country. We’ll go visit my Dad’s grave at the little cemetery in Buckholts, stop in at Green’s Sausage House in Zabcikville (don’t you love that name?) to stock up on the best German sausage and kolaches you’ve ever put in your mouth, and then tool up the road to the Walker Honey Farm in Rogers. My parents grew up in this tiny town (population 1000 as long as I can remember) where my sister and I spents weeks every summer, visiting grandparents and cousins and fighting about who got to sleep on the foldout sofa or the rollaway cot. I think the best part of our trip will be a driving tour of the Marble Falls area where the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush are supposed to be at peak.  I need a good dose of the Hill Country.  What few roots I grew, I grew there.

May have to rethink the retirement-in-the-mountains plan.




Recipe- Savory Pecan Loaf (The Abascal Way)

I’ve been trying to make more meatless meals, so when a friend loaned me her copy of The Abascal Way Cookbook, I was pleasantly surprised at how good many of the recipes sounded.  Or maybe my pallette is changing.  Could it be that I’m getting past my cravings for fries and ice cream?!?  Naaa.

Tonight I prepared the Savory Pecan Loaf.  Being a southern girl who LOVES pecans in any way, shape and form I can ingest them, trying this recipe was a given from the getgo.

Here are the ingredients (I have posted the no-pictures, traditional version on the Recipes page above.)


I found the quinoa flakes at Sprouts.

This recipe takes quite a bit of chopping. If you have a small electric chopper, it will really come in handy here.  Measure 8 ounces of pecan – not 1 cup- measure by weight.

IMG_1019 And then process them until fine.

IMG_1020Add 2 cups quinoa flakes to the pecans and pulse to mix.

IMG_1022Chop 1 cup each onion and celery and grate 1 cup carrots.

IMG_1023Saute in 2 tablespoons oil until soft and golden.

At this point you’re supposed to add the saute’d vegetables, 1 cup nut butter, 3 beaten eggs, 1/2 cup parsley, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp.pepper to the food processor that holds the nut mixture and pulse it all to mix.  My food processor bowl isn’t big enough to hold it all, so I mixed the veges, nut butter and eggs in the processor with a small portion of the pecans/quinoa to mix all the wet ingredients, dumped it all into a BA mixing bowl and dug in with my hands until is was all mixed.



Put it in your grandmother’s vintage Pyrex loaf pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.  It smells heavenly, by the way, while its in the oven.  Roasted pecans- yum!

IMG_1026No, it’s not your imagination, it’s blurry

I baked it for the full 40 minutes which was a little too long in my oven.  It was a little dry on top, but was moist in the middle.  It has a chewy, nutty texture, just a hint of veges and is very filling.  It makes a lot for the two of us, so I’ll be eating it for a few days.  I think I’ll brown a slice in the toaster oven, slather it with butter and have a nice, protein-rich breakfast in the morning.


Now, who’s coming over to do the dishes?