Thursday, January 08, 2009

New Thing #3: How Crunchy Are You?

Clearly, I’m playing blog catch-up. I didn’t post at all between New Years Eve and Monday, and I hadn’t fully decided on my "new thing" idea until then anyway. Weekends and vacation days are much more likely to contain new experiences than the workweek, so don’t get upset if my pace slows waaay down.

Over the weekend, I made homemade granola. We eat a lot of granola in our house. I’m a fan of Kellog’s basic Granola Without Raisins cereal, or of a blueberry variety I can buy in bulk at Whole Foods (which I shop at only rarely because they're so far away). My husband likes the Schnucks generic brand, with or without raisins. Charlotte loves all of the above (minus the raisins, but she just feeds those to Trystan). It’s a kind of expensive cereal habit, but way better for us than all the sugary kiddo cereals that we never buy. The most kid-friendly sugary cereal we buy is Fruity Cheerios (which are made with whole grain and sweetened with fruit juice. At least partially.).

We have a lot of various grains and nuts on hand in our house all the time. Off the top of my head: we have oatmeal (both 1-minute and steel cut), barley (rolled and whole), cornmeal, masa harina, flax seed, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pecans, almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and coconut in our pantry. Have I mentioned that I like to bake? Note I didn’t mention the unbleached all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cake flour, or bread flour, none of which are featured in most granola recipes.

Granola is basically a combination of grains and nuts, together with honey or maple syrup (or potentially corn syrup) to sweeten it and make it stick together. Recipes are pretty easy—generally mix the whole mess together, spread on a cookie sheet, and bake. I tried a variation from one of my cookbooks that called for toasting most of the ingredients before adding honey and baking. My variation included oatmeal, walnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flaked coconut, and I forget what else, sweetened with honey and a dash of vanilla.

It’s yummy. Makes a good breakfast over vanilla yogurt (with or without fruit), a snack, and an ice cream topping. I could add some dried fruit to it (we have a nice berry mix in the pantry too) and some chocolate chips and possibly pretzels to make a trail mix.

Its funny to write all this down and realize just how "crunchy" some of my food tastes have become. Who would have thunk that a former fast-food worker and Dr Pepper addict would drool over the thought of a fruit and granola yogurt parfait, and already be planning the next granola variation (I am wondering how to include some of that flax meal and maybe the rolled barley...).


HiddenChicken said...

What do you usually do with your masa harina? I also have some and haven't figured out anything more creative than tamales and tortillas.

Kristi said...

I think I bought it for tortillas and I had a casserole recipe that used it for a crust for something (something tex-mex-ish also). I'll have to look that one up again....

It's not one that I pull out weekly or anything, just that I have on hand (and I buy it in small enough quantities that it doesn't take up too much space in my poor pantry).

Unfortunately, most of my attempts at corn tortillas end up being a royal pain in the a$$ and I give up in a hurry. Much better luck with flour-based tortillas (with a variety of flavorings added in).