Homemade Granola Goodness

20151009_144421

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.)

HOMEMADE GRANOLA

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.

20151009_130618

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

20151009_130817

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.

20151009_140258

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.

Advertisements

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.)

IMG_1018

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.

IMG_1024

Ta-da!!

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.

IMG_1027

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

De-Plasticize Your Home: Know The Codes

More reading on my part regarding the abundance of chemicals in our lives.  This time the culprit is plastics.  When it was considered the newest miracle product of  the 1950s, our grandmothers still largely bought and cooked fresh food: fresh produce, meat from the butcher, and stored left overs in those cute little glass refrigerator dishes that go for a premium at antique stores these days.  Today, most of our food comes pre-packaged in plastic.  And what we don’t consume at one meal, we store in plastic in our plastic refrigerators.

Plastic has changed.  Different plastics serve different purposes and are made from different chemical resins.  Some are stable, some are not and leach into our food.  It’s also in our shampoo bottles, our flooring and our kids’ toys.  Plastic is pervasive, but you can educate yourself and learn which ones to avoid.

We’re all familiar with the recycling code on plastic containers.  That cute little green triangle with a number in the middle.  That number indicates the kind of resin used to create the plastic. 

PET OR PETE (POLYETHYLENE TEREPHTHALATE), ALSO KNOWN AS POLYESTER

Typical uses: water and soft drink bottles, prepared salad and spinach containers

Health and environmental impact: intended for single use; plastic can break down and host bacteria; potential to interfere with reproductive hormones

HDPE (HIGH DENSITY POLYETHYLENE)

Typical uses: opaque milk jugs; cereal box liners; liquid detergent bottles; most shampoo bottles

Health & Environmental Impacts: low risk of leaching

PVC (POLYVINYL CHLORIDE)

Typical uses: plastic wrap, cooking oil bottles, toys, plumbing pipes, window and door frames, insulation

Health & Environmental Impact: known as the “toxic plastic”; can cause endocrine disruption, reduced sperm count, testicular atrophy and liver cancer

(Run Forrest, run!!!)

LDPE (LOW DENSITY POLYETHYLENE)

Typical uses: plastic wrap, grocery, garbage and sandwich bags.

Health & Environmental Impacts: not known to leach chemicals

PP (POLYPROPYLENE)

Typical uses: yogurt and margarine tubs, microwavable meal trays,  fiber for carpets, wall coverings, vehicle upholstery

Health & Environmental Impacts: hazardous during manufacture but not known to leach chemicals

PS (POLYSTYRENE)

Typical uses: styrofoam cups, clamshell containers, foam meat trays, plastic cutlery, electronics packaging and insulation

Health & Environmental Impacts: eye, nose and throat irritation; stored in body fat (ooohhhh), can cause cancer to production workers, harmful to marine life (this type of plastic makes up the majority of the huge garbage islands floating in global oceans)

PC (POLYCARBONATE), PLA (POLYACTIDE) AND OTHER PLASTIC NOT INCLUDED IN THE CATEGORIES ABOVE

Typical uses: baby bottles, some reusable water bottles, stain resistant food storage containers

Health & Environmental Impacts: BPA-containing polycarbonate causes endocrine and reproduction system disruption; impaired neurological functions; cancer; cardiovascular system damage; early puberty (OMG), obesity (crap!); chemotherapy resistance

Well, Forrest, I’m about to catch up with you.  Good grief.  In my disgust, I am looking for ways to relieve my household of the abundance of plastic.  I quit drinking out of plastic cups a long time ago, but still have them around and my husband uses them all the time.  Just about all the food I buy, even the organic potatoes and apples I bought today, came in plastic bags.  The trays our treat-ourselves-once-a-week rib eye steaks come packaged in are absorbing plastics that are then stored in our body fat.  And I’m really going to start checking for #7.  Scary stuff. 

So, in the spirit of less plastic, I splurged and ordered some reuseable produce bags to use at the grocery store instead of wrapping my fresh produce in plastic and then bringing it home.  Here they are, from Amazon.

I bought 2 sets of 5 at $11 each.  Perhaps a little pricey, but washable and should last a very long time.  They were transparent enough so that the checker had no problem identifying the contents.   Now I just need to find some alternative storage solutions for leftovers.

Comments anyone? 

Keep it simple, ya’ll.

The Dirty Dozen – Top Foods to Buy Organic

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about all the chemicals in our lives.  In our food, in our environment.  While there may not be a lot we can do about the air we breathe, we can make food choices that will put less stress on our livers and lymph systems as they work to detox our bodies.  Buying fruits and vegetables  that have not been sprayed with pesticides will not only keep those chemicals from harming us, but those foods have been tested and proved to be more nutritious, according to Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman, the detox diet expert.

There are 12 foods that are most easily contaminated with pesticides and 12 that she lists as okay to not worry about buying organic.  Here are the ones you should buy organic whenever possible. They are listed in the order of their toxicity.

1. Peaches

2. Apples

3. Sweet bell peppers

4. Celery

5. Nectarines

6.  Strawberries

7. Cherries

8. Pears

9. Grapes, imported

10. Spinach

11. Lettuce

12. Potatos

Wow!  I buy ALL this stuff. 

Here are the foods not to worry about:

1.  Onions  (just bought a bag of organic ones today.  Oh, well..)

2. Avocados

3. Sweet corn

4.  Pineapples (ooh, I love pineapple, good idea…)

5. Mangoes (yuck)

6. Asparagus (double yuck)

7. Sweet peas

8. Kiwi (good!)

9. Bananas

10. Cabbage (something else I just bought organic)

11. Broccoli (second verse same as the first)

12. Papaya (triple yuck)

The good Dr. Gittleman also shares a recipe for a Clorox wash that is supposed to “help remove pesticides, bacteria, parasites and other contaminants.”  She credits Dr. Hazel Parcells for proving that a very dilute mixture of 1 teaspoon of Clorox bleach to 1 gallon of water will not only clean your fruits and vegetables, but make them last longer. 

Thin skinned fruit such as apricots, berries, plums, peaches should be left in the bath for 15 minutes, same for leafy vegetables; poultry, fish, meat, eggs for 20 minutes; thick skinned fruit such as apples, bananas and citrus for 30 minute as well as thin skinned root or fibrous vegetables like carrots and radishes.  After the alloted time in the bath, place in clear water for 10 minutes.  Then remove, rinse and dry thoroughly. 

So, her point is, if organic is too expensive or not available, the above bath is a good alternative.  Think I might give it a try with the strawberries I bought today. 

So, let me know what you think.  Is this sort of information helpful?  Has anyone tried the Clorox bath?  Comments, comments, comments!

Keep it simple, ya’ll.

Clay Pot Irrigation – Part 2

Well, the pots are in the ground and I have planted onions, spinach and lettuce (yes, I know its a little late for these crops but I never read instructions or I would have planted the spinach weeks ago – darn it)

I have a 4’x8′ bed and five pots.  Using the diagram posted in Clay Pot Irrigation Part 1, I figured 16″ between pots so I would need 5 pots.  For once I did the math correctly. 

The holes needed to be pretty deep.  I ran into some old tree roots I had forgotten about.  Hope they don’t suck up all the water and starve my onions.

Here’s what they look like all sunk into the beds.  Next time – IF I do this again, I will paint a little further down on the tops than I did this time.  I have a feeling I am going to be rearranging the dirt a lot to keep the clay covered.

I busted an old clay saucer and used the pieces to cover the holes – to keep mosquitoes from breeding and other bugs out. 

The green sprigs are the onion tops.  I planted in a circle around the pots and along the edges of the bed because the water radius is supposed to be 16″ and I felt like I was wasting space in the bed by not planting something.  I filled the pots with water once they were in the ground and then watered the newly planted plants and seeds to get them started.  Justin at Little Homestead in the City very kindly replied to my email question on this topic.  He said they surface water until the plants get big enough to reach the pots, then they let the pots take over.

That was all done yesterday afternoon.  This morning I went out to check water levels in the pots.  Remember from Part 1 that I said I checked for leaks only on one of the pots?  BIG MISTAKE!!!  If you decide to make DIY ollas, check ALL of them for leaks!!!  Two of my pots had water levels low enough that I could not feel it with my finger; three of them were pretty much still full.  DANGNABIT!  You know what I really want to say.  Just use your imagination.   So, I have 2 pots that are pretty much going to be useless.  I’ll still have to surface water in those spots.  One was my lettuce and one of my onion areas.  There is no way I’m digging those babies up at this point.  They can just sit there all summer.  When I dig them up in the fall, I’ll reseal them for next year. 

So, at this point, the one bed is all I’m going to invest time and money in for the clay pots.  If  the whole system works well, I’ll do more next year and WILL TEST EACH AND EVERY ONE FOR LEAKS.  AAHHHGGG………

So, in spite of the frustration, I also got my potato bed planted – never grown potatoes before.  I found tomato plants at the nursery yesterday when I went back for more soil. Its a little early but they were going like hotcakes and not to be left out of the frenzy, I bought three.  They’re in the ground and looking a little shocky, but hopefully will perk up.  The bell pepper plants are in as is the cilantro.  I LOVE cilantro.  Grew some last year and really enjoyed it. 

About May 1 the okra and cantalope will go in and that’s it.  Something else I made sure to do this year was mark on the calendar when each veggie should be ready to pick.  Being so new at this its hard to tell how big to let something get before picking it.  So having it on the calendar will give me an idea of when its time. 

Hope you’re all having fun getting your own gardens going.  You know, it would be great to get some comments.  I have readers, but very few ever respond or comment on anything.  Is anybody out there?????

Keep it simple, ya’ll.

Ugh (its so hard to come up with titles for these stupid things)

I’m so tired.  Maybe its daylight savings time.  I did really well the first few days and then BOOM! this morning I’m really dragging.  I had to work until 7 last night on my feet in bad shoes.  May not sound like a big deal, but for someone who has chronic feet and leg problems, its huge.  I tossed and turned all night with the pain even after taking 800mg of ibuprofen – which always works with other types of pain but for some reason doesn’t phase my foot and leg pain. 

Or maybe its the sugar overload I’ve been on lately.  I was doing great.  Down 3 pounds which is a big deal for post-menapausal life.  Then my neighbor brought me a King Cake from Mardi Gras.  Ate my fill and put the rest in the freezer.  Yea, me.  Then my husband felt sorry for a co-worker and bought 2 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.  One box of thin mints eaten for dinner all at one sitting.  Dessert overload at my son’s going away party – although he may not be going to Japan now – still in limbo on that decision – another story for another time, but could be contributing to my blahness.  Birthday cake for a coworker. Cupcake from the gourmet bakery after gourging on Mexican food for lunch yesterday.  I usually pass when co-workers go out for Tex-Mex at lunch because it is SO much food, but it was that same birthday and not wanting to be a stick in the mud, went along.  Then a couple of cookies at the exhibit opening last night.  This morning I feel like crap.  Vision even slightly blurred.  Diabetes runs in the family.  I’m in denial.  Never check my blood sugar.  Whine……………….

On the up side, the weather is warming nicely.  Hopefully the frost we had on the windshield Tuesday morning was the last of the season.  Pretty soon I’ll be griping about the heat!  But while I’m griping I’ll be eating home grown okra!  Woohoo! 

Be praying for the people of Japan.

TEDx Manhattan Webinar – Changing the Way We Eat

I spent the whole day today – and I mean the WHOLE day – sitting in front of my computer watching a webinar all about sustainable food; the current food system in the US, the problems, the solutions, the people involved in small and not so small ways.  I was totally inspired.  One huge plus was the ongoing chat with over 100 people through Facebook.  There are a lot of people in this country striving every day to put locally grown, healthy REAL food back on our tables and in our kids’ school lunches. 

I must say I’m pretty brain dead from all the information, but I took some great notes and have lots of websites to visit.  I was proud to be able to tell my chat friends about the Oklahoma Food Cooperative.  Its been a model for other states in setting up distribution systems that connect farmers with consumers.  We have over 3000 members now and it continues to grow every month.  

From what I read, the whole conference should be available on the TED livestream site in about a month.  Write it on your calendars and take a look if you’re even remotely interested in local food production – I’m going to go plan my garden for this year!  There may still be snow on the ground, but I can almost taste that organically grown tomato from my backyard, the sweet cantalopes and the crunchy okra! 

Our Regional Food Bank has what is called Plant-a-Row, where individual gardeners can donate fresh produce to partner food pantries in their area.  I’ve signed up and can’t wait to help feed the hungry in my community with healthy veggies.   Go online and see if there is a program like this in your area.  We who are blessed with the space to grow food should pass that blessing along!

Have a great weekend everyone.