Friday, September 28, 2012

An endless summer and homemade granola recipe

So, I really wasn't ready for summer to end. I'm still gazing longingly at pictures I took over the summer, still wearing my Keens, still have my summer dresses out, even though it's clearly too cold for them.

These are the things I am missing most:

The rush of adrenaline when the frigid waters of the north Atlantic hit my chest as I plunge into a wave on a sunny afternoon . . .

Watching my dog, happily off-leash, leading the way down a sunny path alongside blackberry brambles and stone fences . . .

The smells and tastes of a meal prepared in the company of loving friends.

And last, but certainly not least, MABEL'S HOMEMADE GRANOLA!

Diane made homemade granola at the restaurant and whenever the new bananas came in, I'd fix myself a bowl of yogurt with a big helping of homemade granola, topped with fresh slices of banana.

Ahhhhh, HOMEMADE GRANOLA!! Crunchy, fruity, with good grains and nuts, some sweetness, some cinnamon.

Now even though I lost weight this summer, I can't credit the homemade granola for that, because, as Diane says, there's nothing really lowfat about Mabel's homemade granola.

There are lots of ways to make granola, lots of different ingredients you can include, depending on your tastes. Mabel's granola has almonds, bran cereal and honey. I started experimenting with  making my own, using what ingredients I have on hand at my house. Here's what I came up with.

3 to 4 cups of rolled oats
2 cups chopped walnuts (good fat)
1/4 cup flax seed (good fat)
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup blue agave nectar (you can use honey if you prefer)
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted (bad fat, but trust me, your granola will suck without it)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt (because anything sweet needs salt)

Combine all of these ingredients in a big bowl and toss them well.

Some of these measurements are approximate. You need to taste your granola before you put it in the oven. Is it sweet enough for you? Maybe start with less sugar if you don't like it sweet. As my friend Jim said when he watched me make this, "I see," he said, "you just want oatmeal cookies for breakfast." Duh.

Spread the mixture across several cookie sheets. You don't want it piled too high because you want it all to be exposed to the heat.

Put it in a 350 degree oven and set the timer for 5 minutes. After five minutes, stir it up. You'll be stirring it up every two minutes after that. VERY IMPORTANT: After the first five minutes, just KEEP AN EYE ON IT. Because there's butter on it, it's like a cookie, IT CAN OVERCOOK AND BURN VERY QUICKLY! So keep an eye out, and the minute it starts to get a little brown around the edges after a couple turns, it's done.

Take it out, let it cool a minute or two, then toss in some dried fruit. I used both golden raisins and dark raisins. You can use dried cranberries, banana chips, dates, whatever.

You can see that there is only a slight color difference between the uncooked granola and the cooked granola. I don't like to completely toast it because then it's too crunchy. You want it to have a little of that toasted flavor but still have some moisture in the grains.

This is the way I like it for breakfast or even a late night snack. A bowl of vanilla yogurt, homemade granola, topped with fresh banana, and a side of homemade zucchini bread slathered with--you guessed it--butter!


I'm partying with some sassy bloggers at:

The Shabby Nest Frugal Friday
My Repurposed Life Catch As Catch Can
504 Main Tickled Pink
Days of Chalk and Chocolate Friday Linky Party
Full Circle Creations All Star Block Party
Debbiedoo's Newbie Party
Ironstone Nest Tuesday Transformation
Our Delightful Home Show Me What You Got
Skip to My Lou Made By You Monday

Monday, September 17, 2012

Eat to live, don't live to eat!

I spent a good part of my summer with my dear friends Donn and Diane, who run a restaurant called Mabel's on Block Island. Diane said they could use a hand in the restaurant Wednesday and Saturday mornings doing food prep, but I would have to be there by 6 a.m. Believe it or not, my customarily up-at-7-or-8-am-ass said, "Okay!"

View of Old Harbor, Block Island from Mabel's patio. Tough gig, huh.
BONUS: Driving in to town before most vacationers were even out of bed as the sun was rising over Old Harbor, sipping tea and puttsing (yes, I said "puttsing") around the kitchen before all the crazies want breakfast is a pretty sweet way to start any day in paradise.

My standard duties on Wednesdays and Saturdays were to make a frittata of  my choice, prep fruit for fruit salad, then "sugar" the donuts, which meant to take the fresh donuts (READ: FRESH DONUTS!!!!), after they had come out of the fryer, and dip them in one of three sugars: cinnamon sugar, plain sugar, powdered sugar. Tough gig, huh.

One day, I told Diane I wanted to make lobster quiche for the restaurant. After studying countless recipes for lobster quiche, I decided this quiche would be a lobster and crab quiche with corn and fresh basil.

My recipe is based on several that I looked at, but most of them tried to take the fat out of the recipe. Yikes! A real French quiche has heavy cream, people! It is not made with SKIM FRIGGIN' MILK! Okay, well maybe half-n-half instead of heavy cream cuz that's what the restaurant has in abundance on hand.

The real lump crab meat definitely takes this recipe up a notch. Rich yet delicate, with a little sweetness from the corn, big flavor from the fresh basil, you will want to eat half the pie! I guarantee it!

We made six quiches for the restaurant so I tried to break down the recipe to show what you need for just one quiche.

Lobster and Crab Quiche

  • 1 cup cooked lobster meat, pulled apart and shredded
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup cooked real lump crab meat, pulled apart
  • fresh corn cut off one cob (when it's summer you have no excuse for not using fresh)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped and sauteed (you could use leeks or shallots if you haven't spent your wad on lobster and crab meat)
  • fresh basil leaves, roughly 7-10 large leaves, chiffonade
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup of half-n-half
  • nutmeg (because anything with egg needs a hint of nutmeg)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • mild white cheddar cheese, shredded

First, MAKE A PIE CRUST. Don't be lazy. Don't buy one. It's not that hard. Don't argue with me, JUST DO IT!

Pre-bake the crust for 10 minutes and then let it cool I can't tell you what a difference it makes to pre-bake and cool a crust for quiche. It will make the crust of your quiche light, flaky and delicate, even though it will be soaking in creamy eggs for a time before the quiche gets cooked through.

Toss together in a large bowl the lobster and crab meat, sauteed onion, fresh corn, and basil. Sprinkle with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Dump the mixture into the pie crust.

I am estimating 4 large eggs, but it will depend on how big your pie pan is and how tall you build up the sides of your crust. It might take 5 eggs. So if you dump your egg mixture in and it is not completely full, crack another egg, help it along with some half-n-half, and keep filling up that pie crust til it's brimming.

Sprinkle with shredded cheese all over the top. A little more nutmeg wouldn't hurt either.

Bake at 350 degrees F until it is golden brown on the top and it stops "jiggling." It will take some time. Probably 50 minutes. I don't walk away from things cooking in the oven. I prefer this method over using timers. But if you insist on using a timer, set it for 45 minutes and then start checking. It will probably take less time in a convection oven.

We served it with a couple slices of watermelon and one of Diane's famous muffins.

Chef's note: You can seduce a fisherman with this quiche.

I'm mixin' margaritas at the following fiestas:

Our Delightful Home Show Me What You Got Tuesday
Boogie Board Cotttage Masterpiece Monday
Debbiedoo's Newbie Linky Party
The Ironstone Nest Transformation Tuesday
Made in a Day Made U Look Linky

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Alot to be grateful for

You know how at the beginning of the school year teachers often ask students to write about what they did over the summer?

Well, I could write a dissertation about my summer and how fabulous it has been. I could write extensively about reconnecting with old friends, about how I learned new ways of eating fish and how I explored parts of Block Island I hadn't known before, even though I lived there for several years.

I could write all that, but the fact is, I just got home, my house is a total wreck inside and out from being away for an extended period of time, and I have guests coming to spend the night in less than two weeks!

So for now, here's a list and a few choice pics of the things I did on my summer vacation.

Sunset beach party with the Gutierrez family.
Reconnect with old friends.

Eat fish that was caught the same day and cooked over an open fire.

Realize that my dog, Daisy, is probably the best dog ever in the history of dogs.

Camp in the Adirondacks and the Poconos.

Eat sashimi tuna caught that morning.

Crescent Beach, Block Island, RI, where I spent a good amount of my time.
Dance . . . on the beach!

Swim in the ocean.

That would be me on a paddleboard.
Walk the beach.

Hike nature trails.


Play piano.

Meet new people.

Make new jewelry.
Morning view of Lake Eaton from my campsite in the Adirondacks.
Swim in freshwater ponds and lakes.

Cook and bake.

Lobster, crab, corn and fresh basil quiche--recipe will be in separate post.
Eat homegrown tomatoes.

Buy new dresses.

Eat lots of ice cream.

I am a grateful girl!