Thursday, March 11, 2010

What I Learned from Making Granola

When the freezer is filled with too many nuts and the snack drawer is bulging with bags of half eaten raisins, dried cranberries and blueberries, goji berries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried figs and apricots, containers of dates, apple chips and shredded coconut, it's time to make a big batch of Little D's Granola..

Without a recipe, making granola is a mind game. The game is your mind asking all sorts of questions you must address to produce a great batch of granola. It gets tricky if you want to add-in raisins, goji berries, dried fruit, pine nuts, sugar, agave syrup. Each added ingredient requires a quick decision.
"Do I add the raisins and goji berries before or after baking?" "
"Should I wait or add the dried fruit now before baking? "
"Toast the pine nuts before I add them?"
"Will the pine nuts add an oily flavor?"
"Do I really need to add sugar? "
"Can the granola brown in the oven without sugar or butter? "
"If I use honey, should I heat it first?"
An endless stream of questions. This time a small voice inside my head was overly concerned about the add-ins. The little voice of reason was gently asking me not to throw everything in at once. Reminding me, "Remember the burnt raisins and the sugar didn't dissolve from the last batch."
This time, because I took my time and worked with my inner chef. This batch of granola was the best yet. It browned beautifully, the raisins, cranberries and blueberries were added when the granola came out of the oven. The pine nuts, wonderful and not greasy in the least. And I learned... when I cook, I am never alone..

Little D's Granola Deluxe

I like to use the empty oatmeal can as a measuring vessel for the nuts, coconut and the dried berries and fruit. Then toss everything into a big bowl, no need to use a small 1 cup measuring cup for these ingredients.Granola is a good gift to share with loved ones and friends. Wrap the granola in canning jars with a pretty ribbon. Your friends will appreciate it so much!

1 can quick cooking oats, Quaker Oaks brand
1 can mixed nuts,to include pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, almonds,
1/4 cup honey or agave heated with 3 T cinnamon

1/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil
1/2 can shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
2T coarse salt

3/4 can filled with mixed dried fruit to include raisins, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, diced apricots, minced dates,

Combine all the the ingredients together, in a large bowl except the dried fruits and dried berries, bake the granola mixture on sheet pans lined with parchment paper till golden brown about 30 -40minutes on 325F. When done remove granola from the oven.

Add 3/4 can of mixed dried fruit to include raisins, cranberries, blueberries, apricots. Mix well with a large spoon.
Granola keeps well in the refrigerator.

I like to fill canning jars with my granola to give away as party favors or for a take home gift after a Sunday brunch party.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Full Remodel, Secret Beach House Kauai Feb 22, 2010

I'm back in LA.. Just spent 10 days in Kauai with hubby, Andy working on plans to remodel our beach house. Oh's daunting and a lot to think about. We own a nine bedroom house on Secret Beach on the north shore of Kauai, we call the Dali Hale."
Before we bought the house, this home was a bed and breakfast and spiritual retreat center for many, many years. We have owned it for seven summers, now it's time for us to make it our own. Hence, "The Full Remodel" is my story. A tale of my experience. It's starts with this magical house, "The Dali Hale" and how we'll navigate our life and our twenty-five year marriage.
We have shared this amazing home with other families and friends over the years. Families travel from near and far to celebrate weddings, birthdays and wedding anniversaries. The beach below the Dali Hale is gorgeous. The house is a Hawaiian plantation home with a wrap-around lanai. Hammocks hang from every corner
The first piece of art I bought for the Dali Hale was a giant golden Buddha that hangs in the great room. This golden Buddha, with his peaceful smile and big sleepy eyes says it all. "Come in, let go, rest, rejuvenate, relax."
I am a cooking teacher, a chef and and food photographer. I write a quarterly food column for an award winning magazine, Edible Hawaiian Islands. Cooking is my true passion. Being in the kitchen, grounds me. Having a party makes me happy. I love to cook, even on vacation. Cooking in Kauai, is where I gain the most inspiration.
When we bring our friends to Kauai, everyone brings favorite recipes. We cook like crazy. Mostly, we get a little carried away with the cooking and we exhaust ourselves. No one wants to do the dishes after dinner. That's the worst part. The best part is shopping at the farmers markets and creating island- style meals.
First thing I did this trip was a make a big batch of extra strong iced green tea. The coco man showed up with 4 gallons of fresh coconut water fresh from our coco palms. Because I could, I spiked the tea with a bottle of peach schnapps, coconut syrup, and added some of the fresh coconut water, and a little Malibu rum too. Well, well, it was refreshing and certainly lightened up our day! I wanted to rim the glasses with a mix of sugar and Hawaiian salt. Didn't...We were in meetings all day with architects and contractors. Everyone was smiling, it was a nice way to get the project underway.