NORA’S GRANOLA

There’s a young lady I used to work with, who holds a special place in our family’s hearts.  In addition to being a friend and coworker, she also would happily house-sit our dogs (and in later years, sometimes our children), and love them almost as much as we did.  We were able to take an occasional vacation knowing that our pets and children were in good hands.  We’ve both moved on to different (and better) jobs, but still stay in touch.

She wrote to me last month to let me know that her mother, Nora, had lost her battle with colon cancer at the age of 74.  Her obituary mentioned her love of gardening and antiques, and that her entire life’s purpose was serving Christ and others.  When I saw Nora’s photo, I was struck by the resemblance my friend bore to her beloved Mom — the same big eyes and pretty smile.

Nora

What my friend didn’t know, is that I had actually had a conversation with Nora a while back.  One day, completely out of the blue, she emailed me at work.  She was worried about her daughter in that irrational way that only moms are.  She wanted to feel me out and ask me to kind of keep an eye on her daughter, since she couldn’t be there with her.  I told her how well-liked her daughter was, as evidenced by how the firm had created a position for her at a time when they were letting others go.  I told her she looked happy and healthy and that she should take great pride in what a lovely young woman she was.  We chatted online a little longer, and satisfied, she was ready to sign off.  But you didn’t really think I was going to let Nora off the hook that easily did you?  I told her in closing — “By the way, if my mother had contacted one of my coworkers, I would have KILLED her!  BUT — having now walked in parent shoes, I completely understand,” and assured her that I would keep her secret.  And I did.  I only told my friend about our conversation after Nora passed away.

I asked my friend if Nora had a recipe that she might like to share.  She responded with Nora’s recipe for Granola, a family favorite:

recipe

If only our parents knew how much those stained, hand-written 3 x 5 recipe cards would mean to us some day.  I treasure the recipes in my Mom’s hand.  I type my recipes now, but perhaps I should make an effort to annotate them by hand, so that they will reflect something of my personality and being for my children to treasure down the road.

I was intrigued by the granola recipe.  I hadn’t previously seen one calling for skim milk, wheat germ, and soy flour (I think you could probably substitute whatever kind of flour you have on hand, if you don’t have soy flour).  Well, according to the Adelle Davis Foundation, Adelle Davis “invented” granola in the 1940s, and it was popularized by the hippie movement in the 1960s.  Sure enough, the recipe for Adelle Davis’s Grandaddy of Granolas calls for powdered milk, soy flour, and wheat germ, along with the oats, honey, and oil that are also in Nora’s recipe.

My first attempt at the recipe yielded a very dry granola.  I checked with my friend, and she said Nora’s varied from batch to batch, but was usually stickier and clumpier, so I added an additional 2 tablespoons of oil and 1/4 cup of honey to the mixture and put it back in the oven for 15 minutes or so, and it came out really delicious, like can’t-stop-eating delicious.  For optional mix-ins I used 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, 1/2 cup chopped red walnuts, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, and 1/2 cup chopped dried apples.

In loving memory of Nora, beloved mother and friend, may she rest in peace.

NORA'S GRANOLA
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Recipe type: Snacks
Author:
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup oil (I used canola oil) (plus up to 2 tablespoons, if too dry)
  • ½ cup honey (plus up to ¼ cup, if too dry)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups oats (I used Quaker old-fashioned oats)
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup coconut (I used flaked unsweetened coconut)
  • 1-2 tablespoons cinnamon (I used 1-1/2 tablespoons)
  • ¼ cup powdered nonfat milk
  • 3 tablespoons soy flour
  • Optional add-ins
  • Nuts (cashews, peanuts, almonds, pecans)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Raisins
  • Apple bits
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. (I found 300 degrees worked better)
  2. Place oil, honey, and vanilla in a small saucepan, and heat over medium heat, stirring until combined.
  3. Place remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour honey mixture over and stir until combined and all ingredients are sticky. Transfer to a long shallow baking pan, and bake for 30 minutes (I baked my batch for 45 minutes), stirring every 10 minutes, until granola is toasted and fragrant. Allow to cool, then store in airtight container.

IMG_5362 Mix together dry ingredients

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MIx in warm honey mixture

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Toasted to “I-can’t-stop-eating” perfection

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In loving memory of Nora and in honor of her precious daughter Jenni

BLACK CHERRY HALLOWEEN BUTTER COOKIES

Last Sunday we attended the Last Bite dinner put on by Rebecca Masson, benefitting Lucky Dog Rescue, a volunteer foster-based organization providing rescue services, vet care, foster care, and placement to stray and abandoned dogs.   This was the 10th and final dinner, because Rebecca will be focusing her efforts on her Fluff Bake Bar, which will be opening in the very near future.  Chefs from Houston, Austin, Dallas, and Massachusetts collaborated to put on an amazing final dinner.

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Highlights of the 12+ course meal included this mosaic-like terrine of fall vegetables — fermented, roasted, and raw from Nathan Lemley of Parkside in Austin:

A Thanksgiving-worthy course that included smoked turducken, cornbread dressing with ham hock and greens, field pea and radish succotash, and roasted rainbow carrots with sorghum and Texas pecans from Patrick Feges of Feges BBQ and Brandi Key from Clark Cooper Concepts:

Duck Bolognese and apicius-spiced pasta from my favorite chefs Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan of Pass & Provisions:

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Mint-marinated lamb with baba ganoush, spiced yogurt, and pickled onion salad from Jason Gould of Cyclone Anaya’s:

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A cheese course of St. David’s raclette, sakura boshi (?), cashew, and rye from Tim Maslow of Ribelle & Strip T’s in Boston (we’ll be on the lookout for this cheese!):

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Crème fraiche sherbet, concord grape sauce, and ras al hanout from Rebecca Masson:

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And adorable cookies from Michael’s Cookie Jar:

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I made it to the farmers market last weekend for the first time in a while.  Musical entertainment was being provided by the Grim Reaper’s brother:

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I had to ask what these were:

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The vendor told me they were jujubes.  I asked him how do you eat them, and he said, “Like this,” and popped one in his mouth.  Whatever.  A minute or two later, another lady came up and said to him, “How do you eat these?”  He said to her, “Here, try one,” and handed her a jujube.  Guess how many jujubes I bought from him?  If you guessed zero, you would be correct.  Way to blow a sale, farmer.  I will just have to imagine what they taste like, and he will just have to imagine what my money would feel like in his wallet.

I got very excited over a new item at Kroger — red walnuts from Sanguinetti Farms:

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From my interwebs research, it appears that they have been available for at least a few years.  They are naturally red, and are created by grafting  Persian red-skinned walnuts onto larger and creamier English walnuts.  They’re only red on the inside, and the shells look just like English walnuts.  They’re slightly milder in flavor than English walnuts and lack some of the bitterness.   I can’t wait to use these in holiday salads and baking.  How red are they, you ask?  Very red!

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Last year I posted how to make Black Cherries for Halloween.  I made some last week, and used them in these Black Cherry Halloween Butter Cookies.  Something a little different for Halloween, and not overly sweet.  Have a safe and happy Halloween!

BLACK CHERRY HALLOWEEN BUTTER COOKIES
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Recipe type: Cookies
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 tablespoon half & half
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Orange food coloring (I used ½ teaspoon Wilton concentrated paste coloring)
  • 24 black maraschino cherries (approximately)
  • Colored sprinkles, if desired
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk, half & half, and vanilla. Add flour and baking powder and gradually add to the butter mixture. Add food coloring, and beat until thoroughly combined.
  3. Roll about a tablespoon of the dough into a ball. Repeat with remaining dough. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, make a hole in the top of each cookie. Place a cherry in each hole, cut side down.
  4. Beat egg white lightly with a fork. Using a pastry brush, brush edges of cookies with egg white and sprinkle with colored sprinkles.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are set and lightly browned on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack.

 

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 Happy Halloween!