Here’s to Your Health!

Here’s to Your Health!

 

Recently I mentioned homemade yogurt and how much I am enjoying making that from local-sourced raw milk.  One popular add-in for yogurt is granola, and thanks to my friend Karen N., I can now make that myself, too!  Top off that combination with some apple butter, or a handful of blueberries, and you’ve got a great way to start the day that is as healthy as it is pleasing to your palate.

Here’s the recipe I used this evening:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

2 cups chopped nuts (I used 2/3 cup each of pecans, almonds & cashews)

1 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. cinnamon

a dash each of ground nutmeg and ground cloves

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

       Place all these dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir well to mix and break up the brown sugar.

       Then combine these in a measuring cup:

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. honey

1-2 Tbsp. maple syrup

1 tsp. vanilla

     Drizzle these mixed liquids over the dry stuff, then stir & turn to coat.  Pour the granola onto a large cookie sheet with sides, and pack it down with a spoon or spatula.  Bake 10 minutes, remove the sheet, and use a pancake turner to flip the mix over in sections; pack it down again and return to the oven for another 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool just a few minutes before removing from the pan.  Store in an airtight container.

This recipe is not exactly like the one from Karen, but I think it’s close.  The neat thing about granola is that you can adjust the taste to suit your own liking.  Don’t like cinnamon?  Leave it out, or decrease the amount.  You can even add dried fruits after it’s baked, such as raisins or chopped dates.  The possibilities are endless.  But you’ll know what’s in there, and it’ll be fresh and really, really good, with very little effort.

Wishing you good health and much happiness in the New Year.  Enjoy!

Nuts to You!

Nuts to You!

Please don’t take that title as an insult.  It’s really a compliment; let me explain just why.

Fall harvest means many different things to many people, but to most consumers here in middle-America, it’s the season when we start seeing big bins of nuts in the stores.  Usually they’re featured front and center at the head of the produce aisle, right there where God and everybody will be sure to see them.  Nuts in the shells, sorted by type and then mixed, loose in the bin with a big scoop you can use to shovel them into the waiting bags.  Shelled nuts in one-pound bags (or sometimes 12 ounces:  see my earlier post called “Size Matters”).  Almonds, English Walnuts, Peanuts, Hazelnuts (aka Filberts), Brazil Nuts, Pecans . . . probably the only common nuts I don’t find here are the pistachios and the cashews.  Is that because they’re purchased so often during the rest of the year as snacks that the Nut Society doesn’t feel the need to promote them for the holidays?  I don’t know.

While it’s true that bags of shelled nuts are available in the baking aisle year-round, there’s something special about those open bins of nuts in the shell.  It’s probably a tradition thing.  As I was growing up, our family had the ubiquitous Walnut Bowl (complete with varnished bark around the rim!) made from a three-inch slab of wood cut from a log and hollowed most of the way through into an open container for nuts.  It had a little spool in the center with drilled holes to hold the metal nutcracker and picks that helped us open and extract the hidden treasure from within those shells.  From Thanksgiving through New Years, that set was out on the coffee table in the living room, and Mother kept it filled and available for anyone who chose to crack and snack.  It was a treat of a tradition that followed me into adulthood and was carried forward into my own home.  I still smile when I remember Larry telling me (and Lily showing me) how–too small to grasp or squeeze the nutcracker–she had figured out how to use one of the curved-end metal picks to insert very specifically into a strategic spot at the top of the shell of an English Walnut, and then carefully wiggle and lever it just so until the shell popped open in two perfectly boat-shaped halves and the goody was exposed for her to eat.  She was two!

Speaking of boat-shaped halves, who else did the grade school project where they stuffed clay into the open Walnut shells, then stuck a stick mast upright into the clay, upon which was impaled a bowed paper sail with a Spanish cross to mimic the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, and floated them in a container of water while learning about Columbus and his discovery of the New World?  Or how about spreading glue on the interior surfaces of those halves and sticking them back together with a loop of yarn or rick-rack coming out of the top, then spray-painting them silver or gold to use as Christmas ornaments?  The possibilities are probably endless.

Nuts are neat.  Whoever figured out that the stuff inside those hard-covered things falling off certain trees were edible deserves a medal.  And from what many reports are saying, they’re good for us.  So believe me, I’m truly wishing you something pleasurable when I say:  “Nuts to You!”