Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Homemade Granola

Some things in life are easier to buy. The last time I tried to make caramels, I burnt the sugar and they were inedible. The second time I burnt the caramel, again. The third time they were runny.

It’s the same with fudge. It’s always grainy or lumpy or something just isn’t quite right. It’s a lot easier to visit the local candy shop, Laughing Moon Chocolates in Stowe. (although I’ve been experimenting with chocolate truffles and I prefer my own!)

This is not true for everything, however, and granola is certainly one of the exceptions. I’ve tried a range of granola from grocery stores and gourmet food shops, and it’s all the same. It’s hard and dry with hints of a cardboard or plastic aftertaste. And if it is slightly edible, it's thanks to all the added sugar and chemicals whose names I can't pronounce. Yuck! Isn't granola supposed to be healthy?

The only reason people put up with bad tasting granola is that many think granola is hard to make. Honestly, it couldn’t be simpler to bake, it tastes amazing, and it remains fresh for a long time.

I sold this granola at farmers’ markets this summer, and it was a very popular item. I’m currently shipping bags to customers in Massachusetts.

And now, you can make it for yourself!


4 cups rolled oats
2 cups slivered almonds
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
¾ cup vegetable oil
½ cup good-quality honey

1 cup dried apricots, diced
1 cup dried figs, diced
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup unsalted cashews

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine oats, almonds and coconut in a large bowl.

2. Wisk oil and honey together in another bowl then add to oat mixture.

3. Spread mixture evenly onto prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake for 40-45minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

5. Cool then add dried fruit and cashews.

6. Enjoy!

Next entry...individual fruit tarts...yum yum!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cooking and Science

According to the New York Times, Harvard University has created a new course this academic year titled 'From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science'. The aim of this course is to teach basic math and physics using food as the catalyst.

Why didn't they think of this sooner? It makes perfect sense. What better way to demonstrate protein behavior at varying temperatures than examining an egg transform during cooking?

Figure 4.1: Pictures of intact eggs cooked in a water bath for 75 minutes at temperatures ranging from 136°F (57.8°C) to 152°F (66.7°C). From left-to-right and top-to-bottom, the water bath temperature was 136.0°F (57.8°C), 138.0°F (58.9°C), 140.0°F (60.0°C), …, 152°F (66.7°C). (Baldwin, Douglass, 2010).

Having worked in many labs in college and work, I cannot imagine a lab aimed at teaching science principles that is stocked with sugars, flour, eggs and xanthan gum rather than the usual toxic chemicals. Even more unbelievable is a lab in which you eat the end product of your experiment.

What a happy thought!

For those of us not among the 300 Harvard undergraduates enrolled in this course, Harvard is posting the lecture series for this class on youtube:

'From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science' Lecture Series

Happy Learning!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Creamy Beet Soup

There's nothing I love more than enjoying a steaming cup of soup after a day outdoors in the cool fall weather. I used to be prefectly content with a can of Campbells or Progresso, but after making my own soup these past few weeks, I don't think I could go back to over-salted and mushy-vegetable soup I once found satisfactory.

Especially when homemade soup comes in fun colors like bright magenta.

And vegetables from the farmers' market reveal stunning interiors bursting with color and flavor.

This soup really couldn't be easier to make, and you can make it as healthy as you wish by adding more milk than cream. The deep earthy flavor of the beets is complemented well with smoked bacon and fresh dill, along with creme fraiche which melts into the hot soup.

3-4 lbs of beets
Juice of one lemon
Heavy Cream
Salt and Pepper
Fresh Dill
Creme Fraiche
Smokey Bacon

1. Cook the beets- peel and slice into one-inch slices then boil in salted water for 15-20 minutes until the beets are tender. Allow to cool.

2. Puree the beets with roughly half boiling water and juice of one lemon. Add milk, cream, salt and pepper to achieve desired consistency and flavor.

3. Return to heat to warm before serving.

4. Serve garnished with fresh dill, creme fraiche, and chopped smokey bacon. For an extra treat, float brioche croutons on top.



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