Today, the year stretches ahead languidly. It seems so grand and broad and big sky on January 2. But I know and you know, time passes quickly. I will not be surprised by this next December. I want to be prepared. There are only 357 days until Christmas, after all.
I made granola this morning as my coffee was brewing. It’s one of those things I have been making week after week for the seventeen years Dennis and I have been together.
Sometimes I measure, sometimes I wing it. Cupboards open and shut. The familiarity grounds me. I have rejoined my life, already in progress. The book is behind me. It’s published. Out there. What’s next? I’m making plans.
I will be on the road speaking, reading, signing books and teaching classes and (hopefully) seeing as many of you as I can. Watch for me at bookstores, farmers’ markets and excellent cooking schools (Southern Season! Central Markets! already booked!) I’ll keep the calendar up to date, so check back often.
I am writing and pitching and doing those things freelance journalists do. You’ll be seeing stories here and there. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve spent time reading and researching everything under the sun; it is such a luxury after the focus of the book to do some free-range reading.
Yes, I have been thinking about a “palooza” style event for preserving starting sometime in April. I am looking for sponsors and putting ideas together, so stay tuned. If you are interested in sponsoring or know a sponsor, I’d love to hear about it.
Talk to me. Tell me in the comments what you think of a #PracticalPantryParty.
Today, to start the new year off, a food you can stop buying and start making yourself. It’s the very essence of the Practical Pantry. A simple, satisfying, healthy granola, sweetened only with maple syrup. There’s a dash of vanilla, a whisper of cinnamon, and a good bit of kosher salt. Toast until golden and, when just out of the oven, stir in the fruit so it warms, but does not bake. The fruit remains plump and flavorful this way, not wrinkly and sad.
Wishing you all a delicious New Year.
Granola As You Like It
Makes about a week’s worth. Store in a one liter or half-gallon jar.
This is our favorite nut and fruit mix, but I’ve added hazelnuts, pistachios or walnuts from time to time. Feel free to substitute one for the other, but keep the total quantity to 3 cups of nuts and seeds and 1-1/2 cups of fruit. I would add raw coconut, but someone doesn’t like coconut. Ahem.
3 cups rolled oats, not instant
1 cup raw slivered almonds
1 cup raw pecans, broken by hand
1/2 cup raw pepitas
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup raw coconut shards (optional)
1/2 cup olive oil (I like California Olive Ranch)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried Morello cherries (sour cherries)
Get the oven going to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat.
Stir the oats, nuts, olive oil, maple syrup, salt, vanilla and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Stir well until the mixture is well coated in the oil and syrup.
Bake for 8 minutes. Remove and stir the oats and nuts around. Return the pan to the oven and bake an additional 7 to 9 minutes, until golden and toasty. Some of the granola may turn a darker brown (but don’t let it burn). When stirred together, these more well cooked (in French, bien cuit) nuts and oats add texture and flavor.
Remove the pan from the oven and immediately add the raisins and cherries. Stir well and thoroughly to both cool the granola and warm the fruit. Cool the granola completely before storing in a well-sealed jar.
If you are looking for a terrific, reliable resource for nuts and dried fruits, I love the product from Nuts.com. (I have no relationship with the company and they did not pay me to put up this link but I am a huge fan of consistent quality.)