Homemade “Bedford Falls” Granola

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
Old-Fashioned oats
Dried fruits
Seeds (sesame, flax, sunflower, pumpkin)
Shredded or flaked coconut
Brown sugar
Citrus zest
Chocolate chips

Wet Ingredient Possibilities
Maple Syrup
Canola oil
Unsweetened apple sauce
Peanut butter

Like Clumpy Granola?

Mix a beaten egg white into your granola before putting it in the oven.

Granola Tips!
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

Print Version

Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

As I have said many times, I get a lot of magazines.  They are split pretty evenly between food and mom magazines, which I think is totally normal for a single 30-year old woman with a weakness for cheap subscriptions to publications that trend towards crockpot recipes, “design on a dime” tips, and the occasional Jamie Lee Curtis interview.

Or in the case of the January 2012 issue of Woman’s Day, a Valerie Bertinelli interview…with recipes.

Nobody was more surprised than me to find myself thinking about one of Val’s favorite book group cakes (Blueberry Buttermilk) days after flipping through the issue, but I thought “Why fight it?” and made the darn cake.

And guess what?  It came out just like I dreamed it would.

Tangy buttermilk mixed with tons of frozen wild blueberries (since it’s January that was my best bet…) in a tender crumb makes for the perfect Sunday morning coffee treat.

Also, if sliced into 24 pieces, each slice clocks in at only 188 calories.

A classy cake like this would also be a jolly good choice for any of you out there looking for snacks to enjoy while you watch the premiere of season 2 of Downton Abbey this evening on PBS!  I have a feeling I will be enjoying a slice with a gin and tonic pot of tea while I roll my eyes at Mary and ponder O’Brien’s curly bangs.

Blueberry Buttermilk Cake
Adapted from Valerie Bertinelli in Woman’s Day Magazine (Oh Mylanta…)

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 tsps. baking soda
3/4 tsps. kosher salt
3 3/4 cups plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsps. grated lemon zest
2 cups fresh blueberries or one 15-oz pkg frozen wild blueberries, thawed and drained
2 Tbsps.coarse sugar (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray a 9-inch springform pan.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 3 3/4 cups flour.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, buttermilk, sugar, oil, and zest.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the wet mixture until just combined – do not overmix.  There should be some lumps.
  • In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with the tablespoon of flour.  Using a rubber spatula, fold all but 1/2 of the blueberries into the batter and smooth into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle the reserved blueberries on top, then sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  • Bake for 70-75 minutes or until cake is brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove the outer ring of the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Slice and serve!

Yield: 24 thin slices

Print Version

Scottish Oat Waffles from “New England Home Cooking”

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.

Print version.

Hearty Homemade Oatmeal

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…

Keep reading…

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

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. 

Keep Reading…

The Stairway Cafe

After a super fun night at Greg and Courtney’s wedding, nothing could have been more delightful than waking up Sunday morning to the sight of falling snow.  It really capped off the Currier and Ives feel of the weekend, and since I knew I wasn’t the one that was going to be driving in it, I could enjoy it without an ounce of dread.

After we packed up the car and said our goodbyes, we headed towards North Conway to see what we could find for breakfast.  It’s no secret that I like breakfast as more than a friend.  I used my phone for suggestions, and we ended up at the Stairway Cafe, a mother and daughter owned spot on North Conway’s charming, shop-filled main thoroughfare.

Keep Reading…

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Beginning with a Gift!

Now that we have entered the most magical of months, it’s time to celebrate all things holiday – and that includes here at A&A!  I will be trying out holiday recipes and featuring some of my favorite sights, sounds, and smells of the season, along with the occasional cup of cheer.

This is the time when we especially focus on doing and giving.  We remember the magic of childhood and carry on the traditions that bring back a little of that magic.  It is a time for family, old friends, new friends, and hope for good things in the fresh start of the coming year. 

It’s also a time for:

  • an elf that wants to be a dentist
  • Buzz’s girlfriend (woof)
  • the phrase “hee haw”

You know what I mean by those, right?

In the spirit of giving, I am delighted to kick off December with a giveaway!

Does this sight look familiar?

This was my breakfast Saturday morning (and has been for weeks)…ever since I discovered Three Sisters oatmeal, which is available exclusively at Whole Foods.  I just cannot get enough of it.  It tastes delicious, is made from wholesome ingredients, is kind to the planet, and it warms me up on these increasingly cold mornings.

The folks at Three Sisters were kind enough to send me some of their cereal to try as well, and I have to say, the varieties I have had (Honey Puffs and Cinnamon Sweets) were super delicious, and free from artificial additives to boot.  Their cereals are also bagged to reduce wasteful packaging, and are made using renewable wind energy.

Wouldn’t you like to try some yourself?

Leave a comment below telling me about your favorite holiday breakfast or breakfast tradition!

All comment posters will be eligible to receive a coupon towards one free Three Sisters cereal product!*  I have 4 coupons, so you will have a good chance.

If you don’t live near a Whole Foods then I will gladly send you one of their products instead – your choice.

The giveaway will run through noon EST on Friday, December 3rd.

I am in love with all things breakfast.  Oatmeal is my quick morning version.  My weekend versions and “breakfast for supper” versions tend to look more like this:

I have a few friends out there that are “expecting” – I hope the sight of those beans and eggs didn’t make your stomachs heave!  Personally, it makes me hungry…

Holiday versions of breakfast are special.  When I was growing up it was actually the one day of the year where we all sat down and ate breakfast together.  After we spent Christmas in Ireland in 1997 we started doing Christmas Crackers at home, including the wearing of the dorky paper hat. 

Probably why I had a hard time finding any photos where someone wasn’t making a face, but that’s part of what makes it special.

I am looking forward to sharing my love of the season with you this month and reading about your own holiday favorites.  No Scrooges need apply.  I am so over people who hate the holidays.

So grab some eggnog, crafting glue, Nat King Cole… and let’s go!

*Although Three Sisters provided the prizes for this giveaway they are not sponsors, endorsers, or affiliated with the giveaway.