Granola for winter eating
Food for the Neighborhood
Monday, January 21, 2013 7:44 AM
After our last family Christmas was done - the weekend after New Years, we planned a cabin get-away. Finally, using a lighted birch branch for our Christmas tree, we enjoyed a wee Christmas together.
The slow process of putting away wrapping paper, Christmas dishes and making sure the last leftovers from Christmas are either eaten or thrown away has begun.
Our final Christmas was for Dale's kids and grandkids. Since this may have been about the fourth Christmas for some of those in the party, I guess making it an over-the-top experience was unnecessary. It is just about setting a day and getting together.
My husband is not a fan of Christmas, so he tends to wait until last minute for gift buying and chooses easier options than I do. This can be gift cards, green cash or going shopping with his daughter so she can pick what her kids want. I help by buying an outfit for each of the five grandchildren after getting a list of sizes. And I wrap the gifts and lay out eats on the chosen day.
We had some concerns about making sure the furnace was running properly up at the cabin as a repairman had been called after finding a rather cold house on our early December visit. I'd heard the snow cover up north was sketchy, making normal up north winter sports difficult.
Dale had house projects to work on while we were there, but I only had a book in mind to read, the one I open for a chapter or two each time we return.
We have agreed to not buy big things for each other at Christmas, although I had suggested my new kitchen appliances could be my Christmas gift. I try finding some clothes he would not buy for himself or some gadget.
However, my husband is notorious for not using gifts given to him. Tools and clothes get lost for years waiting for the right time for him to use them the first time. He likes thinking ahead to a point in time when he will set up a brand new shop and finally use the toolbox I purchased maybe five years ago.
The same attitude applies to anything new in his life. So there are times when an "intervention," like my daughter-in-law Molly calls it, has to take place.
Her view of intervention in my own case was having her kids give me a pot for boiling tea water. It was needed because the one I had has a broken lever when opening the spout cover, which made it awkward for anyone using it.
Just so she knows, I have ditched the old one and am enjoying a lovely new yellow teapot on my stove. It looks stunning on top of my new gas range grates.
As we get older, it is more and more important to care properly for our feet. This I personally know after making a special podiatrist visit a few years ago. I no longer care what my shoes look like, as long as they are comfortable. I buy sturdy shoes with arch supports or install store-bought ones if they are missing.
It has been many years since I slipped a pair of heels or floppy flats on my feet.
My husband has feet that are not sexy to view, in fact, his arthritic toes are downright repulsive to look at. He has been complaining about limping. And when asked if he has picked up the arch supports designated by his podiatrist visit a year ago, he admitted no.
So, besides giving him a couple shirts and cozy socks in a gift bag, I decided an intervention was needed, but this intervention would not be a gift. One of our stops last weekend was at a sporting goods store, where I knew good quality, comfort shoes were sold.
After grousing about the price, I got him to try on some leather Keens. Instantly, he was amazed at his sense of comfort over the worn Dockers he had been insisting on wearing. He tried on the mate for his left foot and never complained about spending the money to purchase the shoes.
On our Sunday walk, after being persuaded to "please wear them even if you haven't weather proofed them yet," he admitted he'd had no pain during our entire walk.
He was wearing the pair of socks I had pulled out of the gift bag on Friday night before our formal gifting, when I discovered him wearing a thin pair with a big hole in the sole. "Put them in the wastebasket," I ordered, after grabbing a new pair from the bag and thrusting them at him, saying, "put these on."
On Sunday, during our ride home, we stopped at a department store for which I had a discount coupon. The mission there was new running shoes. My sons, all three runners, have schooled me in the importance of wearing proper running shoes. My husband is a fitness fanatic, and runs like a crazy man on a treadmill three times weekly. He shoes were like pancakes under his feet.
The new running shoes were a bargain compared to the Keens, but the New Balance running shoes also had an amazing, comfortable fit, he conceded.
Whew, the interventions are complete for now.
As mentioned above, I have been doing my best to use up the holiday food. I made hash and soup out of leftover meat. I've woven various entrees into my lunches at work and meals for my husband. Not only do I cook lots over the holidays, some leave behind items they have contributed.
As Christmas fades, sometimes it is nice to mix up some plain and not-at-all-holiday-type food. Long before Christmas my supply of home-baked granola had been depleted and I hadn't had time to replenish it.
Recipes for granola were included in one of the new canning books I'd treated myself to last summer. A book called "Food in Jars" by Marisa McClellan has become my favorite. I love her stories explaining each of her recipes, mostly items she cans.
But the book also includes some recipes for gifts in jars, including cakes, pancakes and bread mixes, even a chapter just for granolas.
Breakfast for me is dry cereal with milk, but good healthy cereal with fiber, protein and dried fruit to take me through the morning. I like having a crunchy granola topping another filler cereal like bran flakes or oat Os.
Granola also goes well with yogurt and can actually become a quick, healthy meal for eating on the run with an apple or banana, with virtually no prep time needed.
Included in this granola chapter is GORP-good old raisins and peanuts, along with a great story of how a friend of Marisa's mom once sold GORP in the 1970s (of course). But she quit after her VW Beetle was rear-ended causing oats, nuts, raisins, oil and honey to coat the interior.
Here is my favorite granola recipe from this chapter:
Cranberry Orange Granola
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup chopped raw walnuts
1/3 cup poppy seeds
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In an oblong cake pan combine the oats, almonds, walnuts, poppy seeds and orange zest (grated orange peel). Pour the oil into a glass measuring cup and swirl it around before drizzling it over the oat mixture. Measure the honey in the same measuring cup and add to the mixture. Finally, measure and add the orange juice. Stir everything together until combined.
Bake until the granola is crisp and browned, about 30 to 35 minutes, stirring two to three times during baking to ensure even browning. After removing from the oven, scatter the dried cranberries over the cereal and gently stir to incorporate. When the granola is cool, store it in an airtight container (a big half gallon canning jar is perfect). It will keep for a couple of weeks.