06 July 2009

In Which I Return after a Long Absence and Talk about FOOD

Time has truly flown by lately. After Miles's first birthday, my mum stayed in town for nearly a week, hanging out with the kids and I. Then last Sunday a good friend and her family came into town and we spent many hours chasing all of the children around. Miles has just begun to walk on Sunday, and he's also in the process of getting at least two if not four of his molars in right now. He alternates between Maniacal Barnacle Baby and Screeching Banshee-Monkey. There are, of course, some endearing moments in between. Zoe is sweet and smart, precocious and chatty, and Two with a capital T.

I've been playing around with making my own bread lately. I've always been comfortable with quickbreads and muffins; they make such a perfect snack for picky Zoe. Frankly I've only tried yeasted bread a handful of times in Colorado. It just hasn't seemed worth the effort with the altitude. But our favorite HFCS-free organic bread at the grocery has steadily increased in price over the last year, and making my own bread became more and more appealing.

Last month I was digging around on Amazon looking for vegan cookbooks when I stumbled on Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The title says it all, and yet, it sounds like a book that should come with a ShamWow! for only three two easy payments of $19.99. But the reviews over the last couple of years were persuasive enough that I tried it. Readers, this was the result, on my first attempt.

Gorgeous bread, with a crackly exterior and a soft interior. It tastes as nice as the pricey boule I get at Whole Foods. And the authors REALLY aren't kidding about the five minutes of active involvement. You do need a quality baking stone and a pizza peel, but the rest is idiot-proof. (I don't recommend the $9.99 baking stone from Target - you get what you pay for. It cracked after two uses.)

I've also made amazing pizza using the same method and yesterday used the boule dough to make cinnamon rolls - equally yummy. For you gluten-free families, another book is coming out in the fall that incorporates some gluten-free recipes. If you are feeling inspired to make bread, don't hesitate to try this method. We've had loaf after loaf of simple beautiful bread over the past month with very few hassles. Tonight I found the master boule recipe here with instructions straight out of the book, so no need to purchase it right away until you're ready to get serious.

Moving on, one of my favorite treats lately has been my Mum & Dad's Granola. I don't know about you, but I'm a granola snob. I like it *just so*. Served with yogurt, I enjoy it for breakfast but also to to satisfy after-dinner ice cream cravings. It is delicious sprinkled with flax and fruit. My mum was happy to share their recipe, which I think you'll find quite satisfying.

Scrumptious Granola
9 cups old fashioned oats (not quick oats)
1.5 cups wheat bran
1.5 cups oat bran
3 cups coconut, shredded, sweetened
1.5 cups walnuts, chopped
1 cup almonds, sliced
2/3 cup oil of choice
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp salt
3/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 230F.

Mix all dry ingredients except the salt. Then add the oil to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. The oil facilitates the browning process. Spread the mixture onto two oiled baking sheets.

Mix water and salt in a large measuring cup. Heat for a bit to dissolve the salt, and then thoroughly mix in the honey and molasses. Drizzle or spoon over the dry mixture. Don't stir, instead press down the mixture with a spatula - this will help with clumping.

Bake approximately 2-3 hours until golden brown. Stir approximately every 45 minutes. The more you brown the granola, the sweeter it will taste, but use caution not to burn. Enjoy!


MUM said...

I love your blog. I am happy for your that you are enjoying cooking so much. I loved to cook for my family and since it is necessary to eat it is so much more fun to enjoy it. I know that some of our best conversations have happened around the dinner table, it is just true.Speaking as a Mother whose children have been grown up and out of the house a long time, I am so proud that I can say I put in the effort to cook, and I do not regret one moment of the time.

Heather said...

I awarded you the Honest Scrap Award because I love reading your blog. If you want to participate, you can quick read the current post on my blog!

Rainyday said...

I've made this twice now and it disappears fast!!! YUM!

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