Homestyle Granola

Homestyle Granola

There are so many different types of granola available at grocery stores. Most of them have ingredients that I can't even pronounce! In an effort to consume cleaner foods with less strange ingredients, I have been making more of my baked goods at home. This granola uses recognizable dry ingredients: whole grains, oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, coconut flakes, and flax seeds. My fiancé  (soon to be husband!) and I brew our own beer,  and in an effort to produce less waste in the kitchen, I used dried spent grains left over from the beer brewing process in place of regular whole grains for the granola. But don't worry! There is no alcohol in spent grains. The alcohol in beer forms during the fermentation period, after the grains have been removed. If you don't have spent grains, you can of course use regular grains, or simply double the amount of oats in the recipe. 

Enjoy! 

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Ingredients

  • 4 cups spent grains
  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup barley malt
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 2 cups raisins

Directions

  • Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and toss until evenly distributed. Don't add the raisins just yet! Set aside.
  • In a saucepan, combine honey, molasses, barley malt, vanilla, cinnamon, and allspice. Heat this gooey mixture until warm and liquefied, but not boiling.
  • Add the liquid ingredients to the dry mixture, making sure to coat the mixture evenly.
  • Bake on cookie sheets at 250F, stirring occasionally, until granola turns golden in color and loses its moisture.
  • Notice how the kitchen smells amazing right now...mmm!
  • After removing from the oven, allow the granola to cool and further solidify. It wont be solid when the baking is done, but the sugars will bind when the granola cools. 
  • Remove from the sheets, stir in raisins.
  • Store in an airtight container. You can leave this in the cupboard and consume within two weeks. If you want to save some for another time, it would be best to freeze the granola. 
  • Enjoy with milk, yogurt, ice cream, or by itself! 

Blueberry Parfait

 Wild blueberries from Paradise, Michigan

Wild blueberries from Paradise, Michigan

Last summer, while on a family vacation to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, I spent a few hours picking wild blueberries along the beach. It was one of those contemplative, repetitive, yet incredibly rewarding tasks, which resulted in two pounds of my favorite natural treats. I took them home and froze them, planning to use them off-season, when ripe berries are scarce.

I love blueberries not only because they are delicious, but also because they are nutritious. Blueberries have been shown to produce several health benefits, ranging from improving memory, reducing blood pressure, promoting digestion, reversing premature graying, and stimulating hair growth. Since they are so healthful, blueberries are considered by many to be a "super food." 

As you can imagine, there are countless uses for blueberries - blueberry muffins, blueberry pie, blueberry juice, blueberry pancakes, blueberry smoothies, blueberry salad, blueberry jam, blueberry shortcake...the list goes on. As a lover of the simpler things in life, I prefer blueberries in their natural element: raw, unbaked, and unadulterated. And, as a lover of breakfast, I really love blueberries first thing in the morning, with a bit of muesli and yogurt. Below is a simple recipe for blueberries and yogurt - a blueberry parfait!

Blueberry Parfait - One Serving

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened (plain) Greek yogurt, such as Wallaby's Greek lowfat plain yogurt
  • 1/3 (or more!) cup blueberries
  • 1/2 tbs flax seeds, ground or whole. Flax is rich in Omega 3s and best absorbed when ground
  • Agave syrup, if more sweetness is desired
  • 1/4 cup muesli, such as Familia Swiss muesli, with no sugar added
  • Sprig of mint (not displayed)

Directions:

Layer all the ingredients in a clear vessel. Try a wine glass! Start with a dab of yogurt, some muesli, blueberries, yogurt, muesli, flax, agave, and then another dab of yogurt and the remaining blueberries. Keep doing this until the glass is full. The result is a satisfying display of B12, fiber, and protein. If you like, you can place a spring of mint on top, and the effect is complete.

Enjoy!

Nutty Coconut Bread

This unique bread features hot chocolate mix, dark chocolate, coconut flakes, and coconut oil to produce a rich, nutty loaf perfect for an afternoon snack.

Ingredients 

  • 1¼- 1½ cups very warm water
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons hot chocolate mix
  • 1 dark chocolate bar, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 2 cups milled spent grains* (can substutite with bread flour, spelt flour, etc.) 
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 package instant yeast, bloomed
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup (or less) cornmeal for dusting the pan

 

Tools

  • Kitchen Aid mixer with dough hook
  • Cast iron baking pan
  • Coconut oil coated bowl
  • Plastic cling wrap

 

Directions

Mix all the dry ingredients together, then add the water, bloomed yeast, and coconut oil. Knead the dough with the hook until the dough comes away from the bowl without being too sticky. Add more flour or water if dough seems too wet or dry. Continue kneading with the dough hook until the dough ball is elastic and shiny, about 5-8 minutes. Transfer to an oil-coated bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let your dough rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size. 

Shape into two loaves (or, rolls if you like!), place on cornmeal coated cast iron pan, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise another 35 minutes. While the dough is rising, turn on the oven to 410 degrees. When ready, place pan in oven and immediately throw a large handful of ice into the bottom of the oven. Close the door right away and bake for approximately 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your loaves or rolls. Bread is done when the crust turns to a rich, brown color, and when it sounds hollow if you tap the bottom. Allow the bread to cool for several hours before slicing.

As with my pumpkin sunflower flax bread, this loaf is best when eaten in 1-2 days, and is equally good after being stored in the freezer. I like to cut my loaves into slices before placing them into freezer bags, where they will keep for about a month.

Read more about the origin, importance, and meditative qualities of baking bread from scratch in Everthrive's "Peace of Bread" post from September, 2015.

*Spent grains are traditionally the byproducts of brewing beer. I dry my grains in the oven, and mill them using a small-batch four mill. Check back for more posts on cooking with spent grains in the future! 

Persimmon Preserves and Kiwi Jam

We recently received many pounds of fresh kiwis and persimmons from Napa, California. At a loss, we pondered how we would eat all this wonderful ripe fruit. So, we decided to save it for later. We made jam!

 

Persimmon Preserves Ingredients

  • 4 pounds ripe and soft persimmons, peeled and mashed into a fine pulp
  • 1.5-2 cups of sugar, depending on your preference
  • 1 package liquid pectin
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

 

Kiwi Jam Ingredients

  • 4 pounds of peeled and mashed kiwis
  • 3-4 cups sugar, depending on your preference
  • 1 package liquid pectin
  • 1/2 cup lime juice

 

Tools for Jamming

  • 4 sanitized 16oz mason jars, lids, and rings
  • Large spoon and ladle
  • Large pot for cleaning and heating the jars
  • Jar grabber

 

Directions

These directions apply for either kiwi jam or persimmon preserves.

To prepare your jars for canning, fill a large pot with water, mason jars, lids, and rings. Bring the water to a boil and then turn off the heat. Set aside.

In a separate pot, heat the fruit until simmering. Add sugar, lemon or lime juice, and pectin. Cook until a full boil.

With the jar grabber, fetch one jar at a time from the pot, ladle the fruit mixture into each jar, sealing the jars with the lids and rings as you go. Be careful not to burn yourself as everything is very hot.

To seal the jars, return place the filled jam jars into boiling water in the large pot. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove from water and cool the jars overnight.

It's best to store the jars in a cool place and consume within 3 months.

Lemon-Lime Meringue Pie

Makes two delicious lemon-lime meringue pies

Filling

6 egg yolks

3 cups sugar

2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 cups water

6 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

2 tablespoons grated lemon peel

2 tablespoons grated lime peel

3/4 cup lemon juice (3 lemons)

1/4 cup lime juice (1 lime)

 

Meringue

6 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

12 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Extras

2 of your favorite pie crusts

Kitchen Aid mixer

Small bowl

Saucepan

Wooden spoon

Spatula

Fork

Citrus zester

Citrus juicer

Directions

  • Heat oven to 400°F.
  • Using the zester, peel both the lemons and limes. Set the peels aside.
  • Roll the lemons and limes before cutting them in half, and juicing them. Set the juice aside.
  • Place butter in a small oven-safe dish and put it in the oven. While preheating, the oven will melt the butter while you work on the filling.
  • Separate the egg whites from the yolks, set whites aside. In a small bowl, beat egg yolks with a fork. In a small saucepan, mix the sugar and cornstarch while gradually adding the water, while stirring. Cook this mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly with the wooden spoon until you see bubbles and it reaches a steady boil. Boil and stir for 1 minute.
  • Pour half of the sugar/cornstarch mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks. Then, reintroduce into the saucepan. Boil and stir the yolks with the sugar/cornstarch for 2 minutes before removing from heat. Now, you can stir in the melted butter, lemon peel, lime peel, and juices. Pour into your pie crusts. Set aside.
  • Using the Kitchen Aid mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until foamy. Set your device to the highest setting, and gradually beat in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue vigorously beating until the meringue forms into stiff and glossy tufts. Spoon your meringue evenly over the pie filling. Be careful to dab the meringue to the edge of the crust.
  • Bake 5-7 minutes, or until the meringue is light brown. Cool your pies for several hours before covering and refrigerating until serving. It is best to consume your pies within 36 hours.

Pumpkin Sunflower Flax Bread

Ingredients

  • 1¼- 1½ cups very warm water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups spelt flour - wheat or white
  • 1 cup course grains - barley, malt, oats, rye, or wheat 
  • 2¼ teaspoon instant yeast, bloomed
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds 
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup (or less) cornmeal for dusting the pan

Tools

  • Kitchen Aid mixer with dough hook
  • cast iron baking pan
  • olive oil coated bowl
  • plastic cling wrap


Instructions

Mix all the dry ingredients together, then add the water, bloomed yeast, olive oil and agave syrup . Knead the dough with the hook until the dough comes away from the bowl without being too sticky. Add more flour or water if dough seems too wet or dry. Continue kneading with the dough hook until the dough ball is elastic and shiny, about 5-8 minutes. Transfer to an oil-coated bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let your dough rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size. 

Shape into two loaves (or, rolls if you like!), place on cornmeal coated cast iron pan, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise another 35 minutes. While the dough is rising, turn on the oven to 410 degrees. When ready, place pan in oven and immediately throw a large handful of ice into the bottom of the oven. Close the door right away and bake for approximately 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your loaves or rolls. Bread is done when the crust turns to a rich, brown color, and when it sounds hollow if you tap the bottom. Allow the bread to cool for several hours before slicing. 

This rustic bread is best when eaten in 1-2 days, and is equally good after being stored in the freezer. I like to cut my loaves into slices before placing them into freezer bags, where they will keep for about a month.

Read more about the origin, importance, and meditative qualities of baking bread from scratch in Everthrive's "Peace of Bread" post from September, 2015.