RSS Feed

Category Archives: vegetarian

Eat Local Challenge

The Eat Local Challenge is a two week quest to source meals from the local foodshed. While anytime is a great time to eat local, the height of the September harvest brings to the table the greatest concentration and diversity of local fresh produce.

My co-op, Outpost Natural Foods, is challenging all of our shoppers to take the Eat Local Challenge. For two weeks, September 1 – 15, the challenge is to eat the highest percent of your food  from local sources. At our store, we consider anything from our state of Wisconsin as local. The closer to home and fewer miles traveled, the better.

Another great group, Eat Local Milwaukee, is also supporting that challenge, and you’re not going to find more local food or local businesses in any one place than today at the Made In Milwaukee festival. I’ll be there in a few hours setting up a booth for another great group of local businesses, Our Milwaukee.

Don’t live in Milwaukee?  Hopefully you have a co-op nearby where you too can join others in eating locally!

My first meal of the challenge was a fresh corn, potato, and tomato salad served alongside an organic marinated chicken breast from Angel Acres farm in Mason, WI. My local ingredients included fresh sweet corn, golden plum tomatoes,  red potatoes, spinach, and a yellow pepper. Even the dijon mustard in the salad dressing was made locally! The only ingredients that weren’t local were the shallots, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. That means along side the chicken, that 70-80% of the meal was sourced locally.

I have to say I was really excited that the salad turned out so well, and I got a bit of extra flavor by roasting the corn and pepper on my stovetop. Hope you enjoy!

Wisconsin Summer Salad

3 ears fresh sweet corn (about 2-3 cups)

2 cups small red potatoes

1 red, yellow, or orange pepper (roasted and diced with skin on)

3 cups fresh spinach leaves

2 cups assorted cherry tomatoes, halved

The Dressing:

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons minced shallots

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Black pepper to taste

Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain, and cut into quarters. Meanwhile while the potatoes are cooking, peel the sweetcorn and cook each cob for one minute in the microwave (or 5 minutes on the stovetop in boiling water). If you have a gas range, roast the corn over an open flame until the kernels begin to brown and carmelize. You can do the same with the pepper over the open flame, roasting it until the skin begins to blister and char. If you don’t have a method of roasting, it’s okay to skip this step.

When your corn has roasted, slice the kernels from each cob, and mix with the potatoes, chopped pepper and fresh spinach. If the potatoes and corn are still a bit warm, they will wilt the spinach a bit, which I think brings out a bit more of the flavor. Refrigerate the salad as is, for about 30 minutes.

Mix up the dressing in a small bowl with a whisk by combining the vinegar, mustard, shallots, olive oil, salt and pepper.

When the salad has chilled down, add the tomatoes and the dressing.

Optional ingredients can include some fresh basil from your garden and/or goat cheese. Had I included those 2 ingredients they would have also been local.

 

Week 51 – Relief or Regret?

I’ve been feeling a little guilty about my second to last week of this challenge. Not because I was cheating per se, but because I was away from home on business for almost the entire week and couldn’t do any cooking. Really Pam… guilty because you can’t cook? What has this year done to me?

I guess I wasn’t thinking too carefully about the return trip home, as my guilt turned into panic looking at the empty refrigerator and pantry. No bread, no granola, no leftovers for lunch. You see most of the time I’m away from home Lisa lives like a bachelorette and eats fish from a can, or just cooks a head of cauliflower for dinner – all the foods I don’t really like to smell in the house. Speaking of smells, when I returned home my kimchi from the week prior was fermenting away in the refrigerator but putting off what I thought was a rather unpleasant odor. In fact, as the week went by the kitchen kept getting smellier and smellier each time we opened the refrigerator door. “Good lord, we’re going to eat that stuff?” I couldn’t believe how bad it smelled. Lisa got out two plastic storage bags and double-bagged it. Well that didn’t help, in fact it was really starting to smell more and more like dead fish. Fast forward to Tuesday night and as I’m digging through the vegetable drawer I stumble upon the tiny little bowl of chopped garlic I put in the refrigerator about two weeks ago. Yes it was covered with a small piece of plastic wrap, but that didn’t stop the wretched stench from escaping it. Thank goodness it wasn’t the kimchi (that I almost threw out) because I finally had the courage to taste it and my, it is soooooo delicious.

I returned home late Friday night, thankful to sleep in my own bed again but even more thankful to leave all the conference buffet food behind. When you mainly cook everything from scratch you really begin to notice the amount of salt and fat in other foods. I came home to a weekend of get-togethers with friends and family, so my cooking from scratch jump started on Saturday preparing some rock shrimp tacos (with homemade tortillas) , pork carnitas, and guacamole for the evening food fest at my DPW gathering. The DPW’s (my four girlfriends and I are an unexpected group that stumbled upon each other from the professional world), we gather quarterly to laugh hard and often, cry mostly from laughing so hard, and to eat some really great food. For anyone who cares the DPW stands for Dirty Polish Whores and really has nothing to do with who we are (trust me), but has stuck with us over the years. Each time we get together I believe we unintentionally try to outdo each other in the food category, much to the surprise and pleasure of all of us. While my homemade corn tortillas entered into the “wow” category, Margaret’s Whoreo cookies (yes you read that right), were da bomb.

After a long and laugh-filled Saturday night, Sunday came a bit earlier than expected and a Sunday brunch invitation meant getting up earlier than my body wanted to in order to make the asparagus salad. Ah yes, it is spring and the best part of spring in my opinion are the sweet delicious stalks of asparagus. While April is a bit early here for any local crops, it is coming into our store from domestic sources which are much more delicious than from Mexico or Chile. I used a recipe from my co-op that was a great accompaniment to hot ham sandwiches at brunch, but went even better with the BBQ chicken I made for dinner. We had a rare day in spring here in Wisconsin where the temperature got way above the 60 degrees we would all settle for, so when the temperature peaks at 80 everyone in my neighborhood dusts off their grill and throws on some kind of meat. Since barbeque sauce was on my list of things to make that I had never before tried, I pulled together what was more of a marinade but it did however give the chicken both a sweet and savory flavor. As the recipe says, “deep flavor, rich tasting… fabulous with steak, chicken or pork.” The recipe said to “mop” this on at the end of the grilling process so the skin wouldn’t char, but I decided to brave it and marinade the chicken pieces in the sauce for about an hour before cooking. I made sure to keep the chicken away from the direct heat of the coals so I could continue to mop on the sauce as they cooked. While I do prefer the tomato-based barbeque sauces, this one was really rather good and since I have some left over I will be using it again.

I’m almost at the end of week 52 as I’m writing this post, and feeling a little sad that this adventure is almost over. Or is it? I mean once you start something like this does the adventure really ever end? It is food we’re talking about, and while I learned a lot about cooking from scratch over the past 52 weeks, there is still so much more to learn. So my question is, should I keep blogging? What do you think?

Coffee Bourbon BBQ Sauce (from The Gourmet Cookbook)

1 cup strong brewed coffee

½ cup bourbon

½ cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat (a simmer) for about 30-45 minutes. Stir occasionally. You want the sauce to cook down to about 1 cup so the flavors can develop nicely. The sauce will be thin.

If you are cooking the meat over direct heat, the recipe says to brush on the sauce at the end of the cooking so that the sugars don’t char.

Spring Asparagus Salad (from Outpost Natural Foods Co-op)

1 ½ pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon tamari (soy sauce)

1 teaspoon white sugar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Salt to taste

Whisk together the vinegars, tamari, sugar, Dijon, and oils. Make sure you whisk them vigorously in order to emulsify. Set aside.

Bring a pot of lightly-salted water to a boil and add the asparagus. Cook for 1-4 minutes, until just tender but still mostly firm. Remove from the water and rinse under cold water immediately to stop the cooking.

Place the asparagus in a large bowl and drizzle the dressing over the asparagus, tossing it until it is evenly coated. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and toss again.

Chill or serve immediately.

Weeks 48 & 49 – From Blur To Bliss

At this point week 48 is a blur. When you’re in a job where you can’t pass your work on to anyone else, preparing to take a vacation means you will really need it when the week is over. And so we move on to week 49.

From my experience a vacation in the southwest, specifically the mountains of New Mexico, is a total sensory overload. From the heat and flavor of New Mexican red chilies to the sweet smoky of the green, the clear blue sky in the daytime to the star-studded sky of the evening, the unmistakable aroma of the piñon fires to the short-term effects of the altitude – my senses were definitely on overload.

We began our adventure in Santa Fe at the local farmer’s market, with the purchase of red chili powder, fresh goat cheese with green chili, German butter potatoes, farm fresh eggs, a giant bunch of rainbow chard and multi-grain bread. I was having a blast. My last visit to a farmer’s market was this past summer when my biggest concern was how many fresh tomatoes could I buy in order to get me through the winter. But this time it was about the food and more importantly the food already made by others. My vacation rules allow for the convenience food already prepared by someone other than myself, so I pretty much had to contain myself from purchasing every roll, cookie or bread in sight. The market in Santa Fe was one of the better ones I’ve been to – very well organized, a great variety of options, and to carry on with my theme – total sensory overload (which believe me was a really good thing).

This vacation was yet another art retreat unlike any other I’ve taken or written about. The ten of us, all women (mostly retired) stayed in the Taos home of a local artist whose colorful artwork filled the walls of most every room, and whose sense of style created an atmosphere of curiosity and wonder. It was the perfect setting for creativity, in both art and food and as one of the designated cooks for the week I saw the opportunity to let my food love shine using the foods I purchased from the market. Leading with the two pounds of granola I baked before the trip (which our instructor joyfully claimed as her prize), I decided I would bake us some bread.

From my year’s experience so far I’ve learned enough about baking to know that things like heat, humidity, or even altitude can have a serious impact on the results. With iPad in hand, Lisa researched any potential precautions I should take in baking bread in the thin and dry air at 7,000 feet. Breads rise quickly at high altitude and the dough needs to be adjusted for moisture. Yes indeed, my English muffin bread that typically takes sixty minutes to rise took only 30 minutes to get to a stage of puffiness that kinda’ scared me a bit. The dough was beautiful and it filled the loaf pan looking like a professional had their hand at forming it. Ha – was I going to impress everyone with this bread! My next challenge was adjusting the baking time, not only for the difference in altitude but because I was using a convection oven. Okay, that meant I should lower the heat by twenty-five degrees and shorten the amount of baking time. Piece of cake… er bread. If I thought this bread looked beautiful before it went into the oven it looked even more amazing coming out of the oven. I couldn’t figure out what was the big deal about altitude adjustment? I was totally for this high altitude baking.

Well as you may have guessed that feeling of amazement and success of was pretty short-lived. The next morning I put on the pots of coffee and started to slice into my perfect loaf, setting up my cinnamon raisin “toast bar” for breakfast. The first slice was beautiful although not quite the usual texture. The second slice was equally as enticing to the on-lookers now forming over my shoulder and I couldn’t have been more proud of the treat I was getting ready for them. Onto the third slice, and the fourth which started to be a bit more crumbly with a slight hole in the middle. Well take a look at the photo because it wasn’t just a slight hole that had formed, it was a giant cavern right through the center of the bread. Needless to say we got a laugh out of it and toasted each slice in several pieces. Ah, my little lesson on baking in high altitude.

One meal that did go well was one I made using the fresh rainbow chard and potatoes from the farmer’s market. Fortunately for me I had convenience foods on hand, my first encounter with canned beans and a carton of chicken broth since last April. I served the beans and chard directly over the steamed German butter potatoes for a quick, simple, and delicious meal.

And what would vacation be without souvenirs? Many of mine, were of course, food related from sun-dried red chilies to smoky chitpotles. I plan on recreating the flavors of New Mexico at home, but I might wait until using canned beans are ‘legal’ after the year is through!

 

Rainbow Chard With White Beans

1 large bunch (about one pound) red chard or rainbow chard, rinsed well

½ cup shallots, sliced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup white wine

¼ to ½ cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth)

1 can (15 ounces) white beans, great northern, navy, or cannelinni (drained)

Salt and pepper to taste

Remove a good portion of the stems from the chard, reserving as much as you might enjoy in the dish. (The reason you’re removing them is that they cook slower than the leafy green part, so they need to be cooked separately.)

Once the stems are removed, roughly chop the leafy green portion of the chard and set aside. Now dice up some of the stems, along with the shallots and garlic.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan, and add the shallots and diced chard stems. Sauté the mixture until the shallots begin to caramelize, about 8-10 minutes. The chard stems should begin to soften at this point. Add the minced garlic and stir for about one minute to release the flavor.

Add the white wine to the pan to deglaze it of any browning from the vegetables, and slowly add your chard greens allowing each addition to cook down a bit before adding more greens to the pan. Cook the greens stirring frequently for about 10 minutes.

Now add the white beans to the mixture, along with the chicken or vegetable stock. Cover the pan and let simmer on low heat for another 10 minutes, allowing a good portion of the liquid to absorb into the dish. Season with salt and pepper.

This can be served as either a main dish or a side dish. Serves 4.

 

Week 43 – Time For Sushi

It’s Valentines Day and while many people will have their hearts set on chocolate or cake or other sweet delectable’s of the day, I say there’s no better way to celebrate with your sweetie than with sushi.

Sushi is something I had given up for the year (the sushi made at my co-op), although I have been invited out to celebrate special occasions with friends where local sushi was the destination. Sushi also has a special place in my heart for Valentine’s Day. I met my sweetie for the first time about 16 years ago while I was sampling homemade sushi at one of our stores and she was sampling apple cider as one of our sales reps. It’s unfortunate I don’t have a strong recollection of the day or event – but that doesn’t mean a lasting impression wasn’t made – or that it was the beginning of the best of the rest of the years of my life!

To many people sushi means “raw fish” and if that were the case I would avoid it like the plague. My very first sushi experience was in 1983 when I went to a natural products trade show and was introduced to the great folks at Eden Foods. I was invited to a party they were sponsoring after hours at the show, and it was there I learned how to roll my first sushi roll. (Yes, it was sushi I was rolling.) It was filled with fresh vegetables, daikon radish, umeboshi plum paste – all flavors I had never had before that day. I instantly became a sushi convert.

So this year I made sushi for Valentine’s Day. And Lisa found another vintage garlic keeper on Ebay to replace last week’s unfortunate mishap. Life is really great!

Sushi Made Easy (really, it is easy)

1 package Sushi Nori

2 cups sushi rice or short-grain brown rice

¼ cup brown rice vinegar

Filling:

Fresh vegetables like avocado, cucumber, carrots, watercress, or lightly steamed asparagus

Cream cheese, smoked salmon, steamed shrimp

Accompaniments:

Wasabi (a spicy hot green Japanese mustard)

Soy Sauce

Pickled Ginger

 

Cook the rice, 1 cup of rice to 2 cups water. If cooking brown rice it will take twice the amount of time as white sushi rice. Sushi rice cooks in about 25 minutes. Brown rice will take about 40 minutes.

Allow the rice to sit covered for 10 minutes after it is cooked. Remove the cover and empty into a large bowl to cool down. After it has cooled a bit (15-20 minutes), add the brown rice vinegar and stir, careful to not over-mix and make the rice too sticky.

 

Prepare your vegetable or fish fillings. I cut veggies into thin matchstick size pieces. If using shrimp or smoked salmon, make sure those pieces are also long and thin, rather than diced. They will stay together in the roll much better.

Lay a sheet of sushi nori on top of a dishtowel that is folded in half. Line up the end of the nori with the end of the dishtowel closest to you. You will use the towel as a rolling mat.

Crumble 1 cup of cooked rice over the top of the nori, leaving about two inches at the top of the sheet uncovered by rice.

 

Moisten your fingers with water (I keep a small bowl next to me) and press down on the rice until it holds together (it will be very sticky). Make a groove in the rice near the center and arrange your veggies and fish across the rice inside the groove.

 

 

Moisten the 2-inch edge of the nori with water so it becomes subtle. This will help seal the roll at the end of your rolling.

 

Using the edge of your dishtowel as your guide, begin rolling the nori roll away from you, pressing firmly like rolling up a jellyroll. Keep rolling using the towel as a guide around the roll until it gets going, then lay the end of the towel down and finish the roll by sealing the nori to itself.

 

When I have all the rolls rolled up, I like to wrap the roll in plastic and refrigerate for a bit to firm it up. After it has chilled, slice the rolls carefully into eight or more pieces. Serve with the accompaniments.

Recipe Request – Super Lentil Dal

Here in Wisconsin we get a little antsy by the time February comes rolling around. We call it cabin fever and want nothing more to do than get out of the house . I’m trying to fight off the feeling this weekend by cooking up a storm and filling up my freezer for the remaining weeks ahead.

This is a recipe request from one of my Facebook fans that we’re making this weekend. Dal is the quintessential Indian comfort food, the best split pea soup you’ve ever had without the ham. The spices in this version give it a depth that simpler dal’s don’t have, and it’s ridiculously simple to make.

Simple Lentil Dal With Fresh Ginger, Green Chiles, and Cilantro

(Adapted from Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran)

2 cups yellow lentils, picked over, washed and drained

(any type of lentil will work, our favorite ones are the yellow)

1 teaspoon tumeric

2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)

8 cups water

4 whole dried red chiles

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

2 fresh hot green chiles, minced

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Tempering Oil

5 tablespoons canola oil

2 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

juice of 1 lime or lemon

1.  Put lentils into large saucepan with the tumeric, salt, and water. Bring to a boil and skim well. Reduce the heat and simmer (covered) until the lentils are soft, 20-30 minutes. Add water during cooking if necessary. Taste for salt and add more if you need to.

2.  Ladle about a cup of cooked lentils into a bowl and mash with a spoon. Return the mashed lentils to the pot and give the dal a stir. Continue cooking at a simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes to thicken. If you like a thicker dal use a whisk to break up the lentils into a puree. For a thinner dal, add water.

3. For the tempering oil, heat the oil with the cumin seeds in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring until the cumin turns a light brown color (1-2 minutes). Add the dried chiles, ginger, garlic, and green chiles and cook, stirring, until the garlic no longer smells raw and turns a golden brown color (about 30 seconds). Remove the pan from the heat and add the cayenne.

4. Stir half of the tempering oil 1/2 of the cilantro, and all of the lime or lemon juice into the dal. Simmer very gently uncovered for 5 minutes.

5. Transfer the dal to a serving bowl and pour the remaining tempering oil over the top, sprinkle with cilantro.

Makes 8 servings. Freezes well.

Week 21 – Waking Up To Pancakes

I’ve made a few important discoveries about food so far during my 20 weeks of inconvenient eating. The first is that homemade granola really is the best (see my recipe week 14). The second, baking bread is pretty simple once you find a recipe you can handle, and plan to bake on a day when the humidity doesn’t mess it up (my favorite recipe, week 19 – and it also makes great hamburger buns). The third and most important, chocolate chips are a great addition to almost anything! I add them to granola bars, banana bread, pancakes, and blueberry muffins. And my final important discovery so far – why in the world would anyone want to eat pancakes made from a boxed mix?

I’m not a big “sweet breakfast” kind of gal, in fact I can’t even buy sweetened yogurt because it’s typically too sweet for me. On occasion, however, I do enjoy a nice pancake with real maple syrup and butter although for years I couldn’t find a boxed mix that I really liked. I finally figured out that the reason I don’t like the boxed mixes is because there isn’t much about them to like. Most mixes are pretty simple ingredients and you need to add your own egg, oil, or milk (which the box usually says is “optional”) to get any chance of a good flavor.

I don’t know why I never thought about making pancakes from scratch before this year, but I’m here to tell you it is one of the best-kept culinary secrets of all time. Scratch pancakes are easy, so very flavorful, and when you find a great recipe like this one – they are a real crowd pleaser!

Whole Grain Pancakes

1 ¼  cups whole wheat flour

1/3  cup corn meal

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs (white and yolks separated)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups whole milk (more if needed, I used buttermilk)

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together the egg yolks, oil and 1 1/2 cups milk in another bowl and add to flour mixture, mixing until smooth. Let the batter stand for 5 minutes to allow flour to absorb the liquid – the batter will thicken.

If batter is too thick to fall easily from a spoon, stir in 1 – 2 tablespoons additional milk. It should drip from your spoon or whisk rather easily, but not quick and runny.

Meanwhile, beat the egg whites in a bowl with an electric mixer at a moderately high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Now gently but thoroughly fold the egg whites into the batter using your whisk.

Your mix is ready for the griddle. I add blueberries and/or chocolate chips to the pancake once I pour the batter into the pan, rather than mixing them into the batter – which will give you a better fruit/chip distribution.

Simple but important pancake-making tip: make sure your pan is hot enough so that a splash of water “dances” when it hits the pan, but not too hot so that it cooks the pancakes too quickly. Flip pancake over once bubbles form in the batter indicating the first side should be cooked and nicely browned.

Enjoy!

Weeks 14 & 15 – I’m Not Turning Back Now

Well I feel I’ve reached a turning point in my adventure – a shot in the arm perhaps where I think I actually got a little burnt out on “convenience foods” during my vacation. Okay so my traveling companions may be thinking, “I never heard her complain while eating that bag of potato chips”, but I have to honestly tell you there were some things I missed about my own scratch cooking.

Rochelle, Annie, Lisa, and... our dinner guest?

First, let me tell you about my vacation food adventure along the rocky coast of Maine. We’re talking seafood my friends, some of the best and freshest catches you can imagine. We did a lot of cooking at our house rental, even though not all meals were completely from scratch, and I ate primarily as a pescetarian that week since that’s how our Vermont friends eat. We had Maine shrimp (small and sweet), haddock (fried, broiled, and baked with a cilantro pesto sauce), Maine sweet crab, and lobster, lobster, lobster. NO – not a millionaire yet, but at about $4.99 lb. from a street side fish vendor it was pretty difficult to ignore.

We made some pretty fabulous meals during our stay, and didn’t even cheat by buying dessert, when fresh wild Maine blueberries were so easily available. Lisa made a delicious blueberry crisp in which she threw in some pretty fabulous local peaches (also a great breakfast start topped with plain yogurt). We (should I say “I”) did cheat our last night at the house by stopping by our favorite Portuguese pizza shop and ordering a spinach and olive pizza – which we topped with local chanterelle mushrooms (sautéed in white wine and butter) – purchased that day from the Brooklyn Farmer’s Market. I also found this great recipe for haddock on Epicurious (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Haddock-in-Charmoula-Sauce-104887) which by the way turned out to be one of our favorite dinners (besides the steamed lobster that is.) The photo I took made the sauce look like green mold, so I’ll spare you what I thought would have been a good example of a made from scratch meal even while traveling. Trust me, that sauce is wonderful.

So what food do you think I missed that I’m now regularly making from scratch each week? It certainly wasn’t the fresh-baked sourdough bread from the local Borealis Bakery. http://www.borealisbreads.com/index.shtml Man that is great bread – especially smothered in Kate’s butter, another fine local Maine business. http://www.kateshomemadebutter.com/ It certainly wasn’t my homemade sandwiches at lunch time that I missed, when lobster rolls or crab cakes accompanied by tortilla chips and local salsa was an option. http://www.sendsalsa.com/bdnews.html I unfortunately forgot about that salsa until the day before we left, or I would have likely purchased it several times that week.

No my friends, what I actually missed about my own from scratch cooking that left me pining for the jar left in my pantry, was my granola. Buying granola while traveling is really a crapshoot unless you have a specific brand you like (packaged not bulk that is). My recipe started out as “Brooke’s Granola” when given to me by our co-worker Diana. I’ve been playing with the original recipe a bit by changing out the sweeteners and adding one of my favorite spices, cardamom, to the flavor mix. It is now officially my “no turning back” favorite. I truly don’t believe I’ll go back to buying granola again since this is so easy to make and gets the entire house smelling just like a bakery. Thank you Brooke!

Granola #5 (updated May 14, 2011)

2 1/4 cups rolled oats

1 cup pecans, slightly chopped

1/8  cup brown sugar

¼ cup canola oil

¼ cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cardamom

¼ teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat your oven to 325°
  2. In a large bow, mix together the rolled oats, pecans, cinnamon and cardamom
  3. Meanwhile, combine the canola oil, maple syrup, brown sugar and salt in a small pan over medium heat until the brown sugar dissolves into the liquid and all seem well combined
  4. Add vanilla to hot liquids and combine with dry ingredients, mixing well
  5. Spread mixture out on large lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes stir granola and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Stir one more time and bake for an additional 5 minutes until golden brown, not dark.
  6. Cook and enjoy. Makes about one pound of granola.