These end-of-summer weekends have me feeling antsy for fall. The first blush of foliage has been turning up — seemingly overnight, as usual — and along with those crimson and gold leaves my mind is inching towards soup weather and sweaters. I love the fall, and then, I love the holiday season from Thanksgiving straight through New Year’s Eve. No Scrooges need apply. I love it all.
The holiday season had me crunched for time this year. I wanted to give some sort of food gifts to my family, but cookies weren’t an option because my sister Courtney does a gorgeous job with cookies each year, and I still haven’t been able to master fudge. There wasn’t enough time to bake bread, and there weren’t enough sticks of butter for cinnamon rolls.
What I did have was plenty of half-used bags of nuts and dried fruits, old-fashioned rolled oats, honey, and pure maple syrup. Add some sesame and flax seeds, brown sugar, and unsweetened coconut, and you’ve got one tasty batch of granola just begging to be made.
Making granola is as limitless as the boundaries of your imagination. Rather than following a strict recipe, I follow the Mark Bittman granola rule of parts – 9 dry parts to 1 wet part.
Dry Ingredient Possibilities
Seeds (sesame, flax, sunflower, pumpkin)
Shredded or flaked coconut
Wet Ingredient Possibilities
Unsweetened apple sauce
Like Clumpy Granola?
Mix a beaten egg white into your granola before putting it in the oven.
Always add dried fruits at the end, after the granola has cooled.
Store in an airtight container for 3 weeks. Any longer and the nut oils may go rancid.
Bedford Falls Granola
I obviously made up the Bedford Falls part to make it festive. Next year…Yukon Cornelius Granola with silver and gold sprinkles mixed in…
5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cup assorted nuts (walnuts, pecans, almond slivers)
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup pure maple syrup (or honey, or a combination)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg white, beaten
1-2 cups dried cherries and raisins
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and lightly spray a large, rimmed baking sheet.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, nuts, seeds, coconut, and cinnamon.
- In a saucepan over low heat, combine oil, maple syrup, and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
- Gently pour the hot syrup over the dry ingredients and use a rubber spatula to mix everything together.
- Add the beaten egg white if you want clumpy granola.
- Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet in an even layer.
- Bake for around 25 minutes or until golden. While it’s baking, stir the granola around on the baking sheet from time to time so it will cook evenly.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
- Gently break apart and add dried fruit.
- Store in a sealed, airtight container.
Yield: 8 cups
New England food comes in many forms, and Brooke Dojny has included them all in the newly revised edition of “New England Home Cooking.” The book is a true pleasure to peruse – not just for its wealth of over 350 recipes, but the back story and detail given to each dish. I am always interested in the story behind the recipe, and clearly, so is Dojny.
In addition to the “classic” New England dishes like Rhode Island Red Chowder, Maple Baked Beans, and Steamed Boston Brown Bread, special attention is paid to the regional ethnic dishes that cover New England like a delicious patchwork quilt. Dishes like Portuguese Sweet Bread in Martha’s Vineyard, Hungarian Egg Dumplings in Fairfield, Connecticut, and the recipe I chose to make for my Saturday morning breakfast this weekend – Scottish Oat Waffles. Thanks to my 6-month stint in Edinburgh in 2004, I am sentimentally partial to anything Scottish (even haggis), so I was delighted to learn that there is a large and thriving Scottish population in northern Vermont. The area around Barre attracted Scottish immigrants with work in its granite quarries, and they brought with them the Scottish love for all things oatmeal.
A thick oatmeal is generously buttered and added to a batter enhanced with the tang of buttermilk. I picked up my tiny waffle iron for $2.98 on the clearance shelf at Target. I think it was part of the avalanche of “dorm essentials” they try to get rid of at the end of September.
After a few minutes in the waffle iron they come out crispy, hot, and ready for butter and syrup.
Lots and lots of butter and syrup.
Because I wanted to use up all of the batter before eating, I put the waffles on a wire rack after they came off the iron. That way they didn’t get soggy from the steam. When it was time to eat, I just popped a few in the toaster for a minute to heat them up and add a touch of crispness.
Then it was time to get serious.
Homemade waffles feel like an extra treat, because you need to invest in that bonus step of a waffle iron to have them at home, but you’re rewarded with pooling squares of pure maple syrup and melted butter.
These waffles were very tasty. The oats lended a hearty texture just right for a morning meal. I only wish I had thought to put some fruit on top.
This recipe, and many others, are overflowing in “New England Home Cooking” – I know I will be referring to it again for both inspiration and instruction.
Thank you to the fine folks over at the Harvard Common Press for sending me a copy to enjoy! The book was complimentary, but of course, my opinions are my own.
Scottish Oat Waffles
Adapted from “New England Home Cooking” by Brooke Dojny
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 cups water
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
- Combine the oats and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes, whisking often. Oatmeal will be very thick.
- Remove from heat and add the butter, whisking until the butter melts. Set aside.
- Preheat your waffle iron.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs, then whisk the egg mixture into the oatmeal mixture.
- Add the oatmeal mixture to the flour mixture, and stir until just combined.
- Spray the pre-heated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray, then spoon the waffle batter into the center of the waffle iron, smoothing to almost the edge with the spoon. Close the lid and cook until steam stops rising or a light indicates doneness. For me this took around 5 minutes.
- Repeat with the remaining batter, then serve waffles hot with plenty of pure maple syrup.
Makes 8 4-inch waffles.
The Royal Wedding is fast approaching, and I have accepted that I am physically and logistically unable to prepare for it the way I want to…meaning I won’t be able to make all of the tasty British treats the event deserves.
Not wanting to leave you with just Earl Grey Tea Cake for inspiration, however, I have rounded up a collection of my dream “Royal Wedding Watcher Breakfast in Bed” menu from other bloggers. I hope you are inspired to make something, or will at least remember to program the coffee maker for 4:00 AM Friday morning!
Some of my favorite parts of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books are her descriptions of the foods she and her family ate…how it was hunted, grown, harvested, stored, prepared, cooked, shared, and eaten.
From Laura I learned about pancake men, corn dodgers with molasses, and how to make homemade butter. I learned that peppermint stick candy was a rare Christmas treat, how a coffee grinder could be used to grind grain for bread, how to smoke meat, and that maple syrup could (and should) be eaten on clean snow.
I love this kind of history, so you can imagine my delight when I came across “The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories” by Barbara M. Walker. Peppered with historical background on the frontier kitchen, country store, and natural resources along with direct passages and illustrations from Laura’s books…this one has it all for the food history nerd.
I initially thought today’s post wouldn’t be much of a “vintage tradition in today’s kitchen”, but I have since realized I wasn’t thinking back far enough.
I got the recipe for these Apple-Cinnamon Oat Squares from the Jan/Feb Whole Foods “Whole Deal” flier, and I knew I would like these based purely on the ingredients list. They are wholesome (obviously), simple, and proudly rustic.
Last weekend Kayte introduced me to the German Baked Pancake. More like an enormous popover than a pancake, the entire thing is baked in an oven-proof skillet and served in wedges. I don’t know how I managed to live nearly thirty years without knowing about this dish. Shameful!
Sometimes we would have oatmeal for supper when I was little. My mom would make a pot of it on the stove, and then set out molasses, maple syrup, raisins, and brown sugar. We had fun building our own bowls…like an ice cream bar.
Until this winter I hadn’t had homemade oatmeal in roughly 20 years. I upgraded from the sugar-laden packets last fall when I couldn’t get enough Three Sisters oatmeal (still my daily breakfast at work, where the whole office can tell by nose if it’s a brown sugar or apples and cinnamon kind of day), but eventually, I had to go back to the original source. It seems a simple thing, but sweetening home-cooked oats with nothing more than dried fruits and natural sugars makes me feel like I am eating the stuff of pioneers.
Like I am Laura Ingalls Wilder, getting ready for a day of playing on the grassy roof of my dugout house. Oh, if only…
Vintage Christmas figurines from thetoadhouse on Etsy.
Another Christmas has come and gone. Well…just about. I still haven’t exchanged gifts with my family, but we’ll get to that eventually. I spent Christmas Eve with John’s family in Plymouth, where his aunt and uncle hosted their annual cozy gathering, this year with the addition of a Yankee Swap.
In related news…I am now the proud owner of a Shake Weight!
I grew up with two kinds of coffee cake…the homemade tube-pan version my mom made and the Drake’s packaged version my grandparents always had in the cabinet, alongside the Devil Dogs and Swiss Cake Rolls.
My mom’s version, sweet and crunchy with nuts, memorably served as my birthday cake one year when I had a pancake breakfast party. The packaged version (and Nana) consoled me when I had to stay home from school with the chicken pox in kindergarten.