Purple Slaw, Spicy Baked Tofu, and Food52 Love.

I came a little late to the Food52 party, but still it's a website I've enjoyed for several years.  There is always plenty of inspiration when the pantry seems bare but really is well stocked, and the community setting is comforting in the big world of Internet food.  When I see something tagged with "Genius Recipe" or "How to Make _____ Without a Recipe" (or Not Recipes as they are called), I'm always sure to give particular attention.  I think about cooking without recipes pretty frequently - especially since I tend to cook what I find on sale and also what needs to be used up, often on the fly during this homeschooling year. 

Last week, organic purple cabbages were on sale at my food co-op and when shopping on that cool Sunday evening after a weekend out of town with my boys, I couldn't shake the feeling that I needed cilantro and a fresh hot pepper and and some kind of slaw.  The next day, half of it became a medium-spicy concoction that really hit the spot.  What I had originally thought would be more Asian in flavor turned out to be more Southwestern/Mexican and I couldn't get the "without a recipe" moniker out of my head.  The second half of the cabbage was made into a similar slaw, only instead of letting the cabbage drain in a mixture of salt and sugar, I decided to just add some candied jalapenos and their juice.  It was spicier, and even better than my first attempt.  I'm pretty sure you could add anything to the slaw to make it good; just be sure to keep a rainbow of colors.

Purple slaw, topped with spicy baked tofu.

I'm not so good at typing up a non-recipe - they beg to be told word of mouth.  Basically, toss the cabbage and salt (and a tad of sugar if you want it nuanced with sweetness) together (you could add the peppers and carrots to the salted mix if you like, or if you forget add them after).  Let it stand at room temp for an hour to draw out some moisture.  Then drain it well and add the rest of the ingredients. You can omit the mayo and use Vegenaise, or skip the creamy mayo component altogether and use a couple tablespoons of cider or rice vinegar.  Just taste and go with it!  It tastes better after it sits a day, and stays remarkably crunchy for nearly a week.

Purple Slaw (vegetarian, vegan option)
serves 4-6 depending on serving size
  • 1/2 head of small purple cabbage (about 1 lb.), cut into quarters and thinly sliced
  • about 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (or more), thinly sliced
  • 1-2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 small bunch of cilantro, minced
  • 1-2 small hot peppers, thinly sliced (or several slices of candied jalapeno and a tablespoon of their brine, minced if desired
  • 1-2 spoonfuls mayonnaise (I like Hain Safflower mayo despite the non-health benefits of that particular vegetable oil...) 

spicy baked tofu.

Baked tofu is another non-recipe.  I used to follow a more rigid approach to baked tofu, but recently I've been making it this way with exceptional results.  I cut a 1 pound block of firm tofu into two even slabs, press it for at least a half hour but usually longer in a makeshift contraption of dish towels and plates and weights (cast iron pans).  Then I slice the drained tofu again into 4 total slices.  In the bottom of a baking dish, drizzle in a fair amount of sriracha, an equal amount of maple syrup (or honey), and roughly the same amount of olive oil.  Turn to fully coat, add a little salt and pepper if you feel like it, and let it sit overnight if you want - or just bake it at 425 right away.  I've been using my toaster oven to bake, which probably runs a little hotter than 425 due to the compact baking space.  I just watch it, and turn it about halfway through.  When it looks done, it's done.  I like nibbling it warm, or cubing it cold and adding it to other things.  Like the purple slaw (picture above), or these spring rolls I made for lunch today using the same slaw and more candied jalapenos...  I am totally remembering these for picnic season.

purple slaw spring rolls

Last week, I used a spicy tofu slice in a grilled sandwich which is also worth noting!  I had a few tablespoons of leftover red chard from the night before (just fried in olive oil with shallot - I'm always surprised at how good greens are this way, and I shouldn't be), some avocado, and sourdough with the crusts cut off and spread on the outside with mayo.  Last summer, Food52 highlighted Gabrielle Hamilton's method for grilled cheese, which was the way a friend of mine made grilled sandwiches more than a decade ago but I had forgotten about it.  It was a wonderful sandwich.

That's a sprinkling of those Urfa Biber chile flakes I'm still obsessed with...

While spreading the Food52 love around, I will mention the latest book to come from their collective: the Genius Recipes book.  I haven't read it yet, but it's on my list.  It includes things like Marella Hazan's tomato sauce and Michael Ruhlman's chicken.  Simple things that always work and are always good - and now all found in one tome.  I don't really need to read it before being sold on it.  Genius is genius.

"A pep talk for wilted saladmakers."

"A pep talk for wilted saladmakers" was what Mollie Katzen hand wrote into her Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook all those years ago.  12 years after she wrote it, I picked up a copy at a local bookstore, I was barely 18 and a burgeoning vegetarian.  I cooked through both of her handwritten books for years, and still pick them up when in need of inspiration.  Or in need of a pep talk for my wilted saladmaking.  

To me, salads (like sandwiches) are always best when someone else makes them for you.  The love that goes into something so simple, or just really good ingredients that have been treated nicely so that they reciprocate: that can't be faked. And I swear that if a friend or restaurant makes me a salad it's better by far than one coming from my own hands.

I likely ate a record number of vegetables in 2014.  I ate them steamed and raw, roasted, braised, and fried.  But very seldom do I make a proper "salad".  I know this is true when last week I had a lot of leftover salad greens and made a salad for supper and my husband said, "Wow. A salad."  (And he ate every biteful I loaded onto his plate.)  And the reason I had made the salad in the first place was that when I had friends visiting, E told me she's been favoring a honey mustard vinaigrette - so I made one up for lunch that we compiled of greens and roasted veggies, some cheese and chopped prosciutto.   Man that salad was good.  Probably because I only helped with the salad, and I was surrounded by good company.  I had extra vinaigrette, and we ate it and then I made more for Christmas Day.  It was good a vinaigrette.  I will write it down in a minute.

In November, I met my friend Deena in Chicago at we ate at Little Goat Diner.  I had been to the diner once before, and couldn't wait to go back.  We shared a salad called the Chickpea, which when read looks like a plain old salad.  I mean, you expect when reading the ingredients of a salad to just get a bowl of vegetables and then dutifully eat them... even when you also know that eating a "salad" in a good environment, made by talented people and enhanced by the company of a good friend is going to blow you away.  That salad came out in a gigantic bowl in front of us and I am still thinking of it to this day.

In December, I ate a salad at a newer local restaurant with one of my best friends.  We didn't know how much food to order and at the last second added on a salad to our order.  Again, I didn't expect to have a plate of salad overtake me for weeks after.  The ingredients were: Shaved Brussel Sprouts | Honeycrisp Apple | Pecans | Balsamic Shallots | Blue Cheese Croutons | Roasted Garlic Dressing.  More garlic than I've eaten in one place at one time in just about forever and it was definitely the plate we licked the cleanest.  If I frizzled up a bunch of shallots, broke out my mandoline for brussel sprout shaving, and used my own bread for croutons I couldn't mimic that salad I don't believe.  

If anyone did, I needed a pep talk for wilted saladmakers.

chile olives

Maybe the dining events of the past 2 months have challenged me to want to make a really good salad, one that could stand on its own and be eaten a number of ways.  (It could also be that I am so sick of sweets that I can hardly wait for the calendar to change tomorrow and I can impose self-induced sugar-freedom.)  This salad is one I am happy with.  I thought all morning about eating it for lunch today (the baby liked it too - the chickpea part anyway... he can actually say "chickpea", which is all the more endearing), after eating a different version last night.  It's the kind of thing that gets better with age.  Keep the components in separate containers and have instant breakfast, lunch, or dinner with very little fuss.

Chile olives are among my most treasured things.  My co-op used to carry them, and they haven't now for several months.  I was overjoyed to find them at Whole Foods, even if sometimes it means making a trip there just to get the blasted olives. I'm sure you could substitute other brined olives and some chile flakes of your choosing.  The dressing for the chickpeas is versatile and can be used in other things.  It keeps as well as all homemade dressings do when stashed in the fridge, for a week or so.

chickpea salad.

Last night I ate this salad with buttered sourdough toast and topped with runny-yolked fried eggs for supper, and today I ate it just plain for lunch.  I'd imagine it would be good in a number of different ways as well, including being wrapped up in a tortilla or another piece of lettuce of some sort.  I'm a big fan of the kale salad Dr. Weil popularized; even though kale's superstardom is waning just slightly, massaged kale salad is still good and makes an awesome pizza topping and omelet filling.  I especially love that it gets better with age, 4 days in the fridge and it's just as good as the first day, probably even better.

I swear that I love chickpeas more after I learned how to perfectly cook them, and I have Alton Brown to thank for that.  I alter my method to include brining the garbanzos overnight, and then I often just cook them on the stovetop instead of dragging out my slow cooker.  When cooked with a tiny amount of baking soda, they always end up with creamy centers. 

Chickpea & Kale Salad  (inspired by Little Goat Diner, Heidi Swanson chickpea wrap recipe, Dr. Andrew Weil's massaged kale salad, Elisa Girard's description of viniagrette, GoodKind's use of extra garlic.)
makes about 4 good servings.

Chickpea part:
  • 1/4 cup chile olives
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup honey-mustard vinaigrette  (recipe follows)
  • 1 t. urfa beiber chile flakes (a new favorite of mine, found at the Spice House), or other chile flake you like
  • salt and black pepper
  • Aleppo pepper for sprinkling
Pulse the chile olives in a food processor until finely chopped.  Add in 2 cups of the chickpeas and pulse to chop coarsely, about 6 1 second pulses.  Transfer to a bowl, stir in the vinaigrette, reserved 1 cup of whole chickpeas, and chile flakes and season to taste with salt and pepper.  (If it seems dry, add a little more vinaigrette.)

Kale part:
  • 1 good sized bunch of lacinto kale
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves
  • salt
  • shaved pecorino cheese (optional)
Remove the stems from the kale and slice thinly.  Mash the garlic cloves with salt on a cutting board with a chef's knife to make a paste.  Then blend the paste with the lemon juice and olive oil to make a dressing.  Add extra salt if you think it needs it, then combine with the sliced kale and massage it for 5 minutes.  I know, it seems silly to be standing around with your hands in a bowl of greens, but it does seriously do something magical to them.  Add cheese if using and that's it.
Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette - mix all the ingredients well  (I swear by this little device.)
makes about 1 1/4 cups, recipe is easily halved
  • 2 T. white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 t. dijon mustard
  • 2 T. (or so) minced shallot
  • 2 T. honey
  • salt and black pepper
  • 4 T. plain whole fat yogurt (optional.  It is good with and without.)
chickpea salad.
Will 2015 be the year of the salad for me?  I kind of think so.  I'm anxious to turn the page on the heavy and well sugared foods of late December and say good morning to a lighter, brighter, more vegetable infused diet in January.  If you have good salads to share, please send them my way! 

Happy New Year!!

Book Review: Deliciously Holistic by Shelly Alexander

 I'm closing in on the 3 week mark before the new baby arrives.  In spite of my enormous belly, I still feel like a long-legged stork will in fact drop the little parcel wrapped in pink or blue cloth on the doorstep and be gone in the blink of an eye.  But I know that isn't the case, especially with the lack of appetite I've had lately.

Even though I haven't felt a whole lot like eating - or at least eating very much at one sitting - I have felt like reading about food.  It's probably the first time in years that I've been current on my feedly blog stream.  I have a record number of books on my shelves from the library, and I even had the time to read a book for review from cover to cover:  Deliciously Holistic by Shelly Alexander, CHFS.  What attracted me to this book was the description, "There is a simple, easy-to-follow recipe for eating healthy, delicious foods that can also lead you on an enjoyable path to vibrant health."

I was particularly interested in this claim because I read a lot on whole food diets and I know first hand just how confusing all of it can be.  Keeping all of the linguistics of whole food eating can be daunting as well, and just where should a person new to the idea of a whole foods diet start?  I found this book to be a very good resource for someone just starting out in holistic eating.  It gives a broad overview of healthy diet without subscribing to just one diet trend (vegan, paleo, primal, vegetarian), but includes simple, tasty recipes for those who might already follow any one of those diets.  It also confirms a lot of information I've already gained from reading about and following a mostly holistic diet for some time.

It's been a good 3 years since I ditched my microwave, gave up boxed cereal, and in general started taking more hands on control of my own diet.  That also directly translated to the diets of my immediate family so much as I can help it.  I try not to be militant, but also aim for consistency.  Most food in my house is slow food.  I take genuine pleasure in adding new kitchen processes that are (hopefully) healthier than packaged or more convenient counterparts.  I've become a real bread baker, all my beans are soaked and cooked from dried, and I try to focus on purchasing raw materials and then making the most of them as the mood strikes me.

This means thinking ahead a good part of the time, and in the cases where I haven't thought ahead, it causes me to be creative in coming up with nutritious meals for my family.  It definitely helps to be consistently reading real food blogs and cookbooks, and like I said, Deliciously Holistic would be an excellent first step resource for someone completely new to the lifestyle changes that whole food diets require.

orange pumpkin seed milk 

Another thing I appreciated about the book were the simple recipes.  So often, real food recipes are overwhelming, especially to those new to eating that type of diet, and these recipes are simple enough for those who are even new to cooking from scratch.  And this isn't just a vegan or vegetarian book, either.  There are plenty of recipes for fish and meat entrees that

For those unfamiliar with making homemade, alternative milks, there are a number of creative non-dairy drinks, plenty of flavor combinations I've never seen or considered before like Carrot Pecan Milk or Nectarine Walnut Milk.  The recipe for Orange Ginger Pumpkin Seed Milk sounded particularly good to me, and it surely did not disappoint.  It was a refreshing change from ordinary homemade almond or coconut milks, and had a truly nourishing taste to it that just felt comforting to drink. 

orange pumpkin seed milk

As Alexander explains, nuts and seeds are usually best soaked or sprouted because it breaks down their enzyme inhibitors.  I've gotten rather used to soaking and sprouting, and a bit of planning ahead doesn't bother me at all.  For this recipe, you'll need to soak the pumpkin seeds in filtered or spring water for 4-6 hours before continuing.  Be sure to use an organic orange for the juice and zest, non-organic are often waxed and artificially colored.

Orange Ginger Pumpkin Seed Milk  (Shelly Alexander, CHFS - Deliciously Holistic)

yields about 4 1/2 cups
  • 3 cups filtered or spring water
  • 1 1/4 c. soaked pumpkin seeds
  •  3 T. coconut sugar, 3 pitted dates, or stevia to taste (I used dates)
  • 1 t. fresh peeled ginger, grated 
  • 1/4 c. fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 t. grated orange zest
Blend all the ingredients in a blender until creamy and smooth.  Taste and add more sweetener to your preference.  Strain with a nut milk bag, or other fine strainer (a homemade bag made of unbleached muslin will also work just fine).  Milk will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator.

 orange pumpkin seed milk

I have a high-speed Vitamix blender, so I don't have to be too careful about chopping up things like ginger and dates, but you may have to take more care with a regular blender.  The finished drink is the palest green and has a very unique flavor.  It's definitely a recipe I'll make again, and I'm excited to try many of the other alternative milks in Deliciously Holistic this summer as well!

orange pumpkin seed milk

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Deliciously Holistic for review.  As always, all opinions are my own!  You can find a copy of the book for sale on Amazon, or through Shelly's website where you can also find more recipes and whole food information.

(Raw) Vegan Fig Bars.

There is a gentle hum in my house. For a whole week now. I hear it if the radio happens to be off, and when if I'm drifting off to sleep. It's the relaxing white noise belonging to my dehydrator, that in my mid-century home I can hear perfectly well even though I've given it a proper set-up and privacy in the basement.

On the heels of recent wheat sprouting, I rented a new raw food cookbook from the library: Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis. I read the whole thing nearly immediately, and even though I am not raw or vegan (or both simultaneously), I took particular delight in the array of foods presented, and the quality of the desserts and snacks and their lack of refined sugars.

Raw "cooking" is just plain fascinating to me. Not only does it require a few technical, specialty appliances that I actually now have, it is thought provoked, true slow food that begs days of waiting, monitoring, peeking and tasting. It is all about the end products that taste better than you hoped for, and are worth each moment of anticipation - and it's pure excitement in the knowing that what came from the long wait is probably at least a little healthier for you in the long run.

raw vegan fig bars

Part of my obsessing with grain-spouting lately is the Kiddo. I know I'm a food person and concentrate on such things, but I worry about his diet. He likes fruit, but not many vegetables, he prefers all starchy carbohydrates and snacky-type foods to proper meals if given the choice, and sometimes stubbornly just refuses to eat dinner if it contains something he doesn't like. I guess I figure that I have time in this bleak part of the year to do such things as sprout wheat, dehydrate it, and then grind it fresh before using it. It tastes better, and the Kiddo's digestion is probably helped out a little bit too.

When I came to the fig bars in Sarma's book, I immediately set out to sprout some oats - not realizing that most oats are not sproutable since the outer hulls are usually removed. I was attempting it on co-op bulk bin oats groats, so I gave them three days of monitoring and rinsing before I gave in and just dehydrated them. (Sarma instructs to just soak them for 6 hours or longer at room temp before dehydrating them and grinding them into flour.) That turned these little Fig Newton-type bars into a 5 or 6 day process from start to finish.

These beauty bars are sweetened only with date and fig pastes easily made by soaking dried fruit in water to fatten it up, and then sending it on a trip through the food pro with enough soaking water to approximate jam consistency. I also learned something about figs, that they are essentially inverted flowers and they have the highest mineral content of all common fruits. According to Sarma, they are high in potassium, calcium and iron, as well as having a good amount of vitamin C and fiber. More good reasons to hope my Kiddo liked them!


Now, when it came time to assemble these, I won't lie that my kitchen did not erupt into a mess of godzillic proportion, but that definitely would not stop me from making these again. I did half the recipe too since I was unsure of what I was doing and if it would be appreciated - but next time I'll make the full amount. These are dried out after all, and when storing them air-tight, I think they'll have a fairly long shelf life.

Sarma also calls for an ingredient I've never used before, maple syrup powder. I think it would be possible to dehydrate maple syrup and arrive at a usable result, but frankly I didn't have time for all of that. (Maple syrup is arguably not raw either if you are keeping track.) I substituted it with a little actual maple syrup, and everything turned out just fine. This was the first dehydrated adventure of such proportion for me, and I just went ahead and substituted as if I've been raw "baking" forever. It worked for me.

raw vegan fig bars.

Before I started these, I read through quite a few message boards concerning raw vegan desserts and discovered that most people feel that these types of desserts are on the sweet side. I took that into consideration when reducing the amounts of dried fruit that I used for the filling. The amounts listed are for 32 bars, double everything for 64 bars. Have all of the ingredients ready before beginning. Soaking the dried fruits and turning them into pastes can be done a day or two in advance, and the oats soaked, dehydrated and turned to flour at your convenience. Trust me, all the advance work is worth it.

Raw Vegan Fig Bars (adapted from Sarma Melngailis)
  • 4 c. oat flour (see note below)
  • 1/2 t. RealSalt (fine salt)
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil, warmed to soften
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 3/4 c. date paste (see note below), divided
  • 2 c. fig paste (see note below) (use the recommended 3 c. of fig paste for figgier bars)

To make the dough, mix oat flour and salt in a large bowl. Mix the coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and 1/2 c. of the date paste together, and add to the flour/salt mixture. Mix thoroughly, it will feel like a soft dough, like a pie dough. If it is too dry, add water to correct.

To make filling, in a separate bowl, mix remaining date paste with fig paste. (Sarma calls to add 1/4 c. of agave to the filling, but I found the consistency to be ok with just a little water, and I didn't want to add any additional sweetener since I feel dates and figs are both pretty sweet. You can add some honey or agave if you like - and include a pinch of salt to taste.) It should have a jam-like consistency, not liquidy at all.

Cut two pieces of parchment paper that are about the size of your dehydrator screens. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, and press/roll each into an even layer. Make each sheet as close to the same size as possible. With a knife, cut one of the dough layers into 4 uniform rectangles. (This will be the top layer, cutting makes it easier to pick up without breaking.) Sarma says to freeze for 10 minutes to make it easier to handle, but I had no trouble using it right away.

Spread the fig mixture evenly over the dough layer that is not cut. Carefully place the 4 rectangles you cut from the top piece of dough over the top. Place the whole thing, on the parchment paper, on a dehydrator screen and dehydrate at 115 or less for 6 hours.

Remove from dehydrator, carefully flip the whole thing onto another piece of parchment-lined screen and peel off the bottom layer of parchment. Put it back into the dehydrator and keep dehydrating for another 6 hours.

Remove from the dehydrator, (move the parchment off of the dehydrator screen), and cut the dough into bars. Cut each quarter into 8 bars, to equal the 32 bars. Carefully transfer the bars individually to the dehydrator screens, and dehydrate for 10-12 hours longer until done.


To make oat flour, soak oat groats in water for at least 6 hours, drain and rinse well, dehydrate and grind in a VitaMix or grain mill.

To make date and fig pastes, soak the dried fruits for at least 2 hours in water at room temperature. (Separately, of course.) In the case of the figs, first cut off the hard stems. Drain and reserve the soaking water. Transfer to a food processor and mix, adding back the soaking liquid 1 T. at a time until it is the consistency of thick jam or butter.

raw vegan fig bars..

This was the type of project that had more than one opportunity for me to wake up in the night and attend to it. I didn't choose to do this. I just let the bars sit until I woke up naturally to continue attending to them. You can of course, plan ahead to adjust for timing - but I don't think it's crucial. The fig bars are really done when you are happy with the texture, since all of the ingredients are able to be eaten in their raw states. You can't mess them up!

We loved these bars. My picky kid loved these bars! He was lobbying eating his whole dinner to have one for dessert afterwards, so I think they more than fit the criteria I was hoping for. They taste better than Fig Newtons, and better than the butter laden homemade versions of fig bars I've made in the past. I was so excited, I bought a couple pounds of buckwheat, sprouted and dehydrated it, to get started immediately on my next raw vegan dessert.

sprouted buckwheat

As I write on this cold, sunny, Saturday afternoon, the gentle hum of the dehydrator keeps me company as a wholesome buckwheat Rice Krispie variation makes its way to done. I had never had a buckwheat berry before, let alone a sprouted and dehydrated one. It is better than a Krispie for sure, and so is the marshmallow-reminiscent binder of young Thai coconuts, coconut oil and other things that I tweaked so much I'm glad I wrote them down. I could have just eaten it by the bowlful, but I'm glad I formed them into bars and have the patience to wait until another day. I'll have the fig bars as company until they are ready.

buckwheat <span class=

Apologies to Sarma for substituting up her awesome recipes. Great Big Thanks to the Milwaukee Public Library for their continual purchase of stellar cookbooks. This is a book that I'll have to purchase, if only for the desserts alone. Not that I won't be trying many other things in the savory veins. I'll stop myself from immediately running out to look for oyster mushrooms, but probably not for long. Then a long-planned dinner may be arriving on my table, at home in the din of dehydrating grains, percolating sourdough starter, and all the other things that somehow easily become obsessions to me.

Dehydrated Granola.

Last week, I happened to notice a bookmark and comment I left on a recipe more than a year ago. It's shouldn't be so surprising when time passes so quickly, but it always is. Little glimpses into my thought patterns from a while back are kind of strange. Who was that person who commented then? What was I eating and obsessing over? When the comment is left on a staple like granola, it isn't too hard to remember the reason why I bookmarked it - but it is easy to see why I forgot about it, since I only inherited a dehydrator somewhat recently.

Now a granola recipe from a blog entitled Roasting Rambler has to be great, right? And, it is - that's for sure. I actually made it without tweaking (the last photo on this post), well, I barely tweaked it, for the first time last week, all those months after I had forgotten that the idea of drying out a paste granola was absolutely brilliant. I wasn't disappointed either. It was super crunchy and delicious, my hand and both of my Kiddo's hands both made swift work of the rather small batch over the course of the week.

Yesterday after breakfast, I was hit by the urge to organize my spice cupboard. It's actually one of my favorite things about my kitchen, and contains a lot more than just spices. The top shelf appropriately holds my modest liquor cabinet. The next down, canning jars of bulk grains, nuts and seeds. Then, my shelves of spices: one shelf holds jars contained in a wooden filing box I found at a rummage, and another two baskets of miscellaneous must haves from Spice House wanderings (and things that I use in close proximity like extracts, brown sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch. The bottom shelf is for oils, molasses, honey, sugar jar.

In the late 40's when my house was built, I assume that having such a convenient nook for cooking and baking essentials was still prerequisite for the modern housewife. I like considering myself a modern housewife who appreciates it still. I do not like that it frequently needs going through, as I tend to toss things in there despite my constantly renewed vows that I will keep it organized and faced, beautiful to look at when the shuttered door swings open.

With the success of dehydrated granola still implanted, I consolidated my jars. I discovered dried dates that were almost brittle with age, dried figs that were surprisingly soft enough to tear in two, several cranberries that were past their eating-out-of-hand prime. Using the same proportions as the Roasting Rambler's original recipe, I concocted another dehydrated granola - excited that the possibilities for this were endless.

The base of the granola is dried fruit mixed with lemon juice and enough water to make it run easily through the food processor blade. I found both times I've made it that I didn't need the full amount of water, just add it until the mixture is homogeneous and moves freely. I also found that the double batch amount that I've listed below has no trouble being mixed in the food processor. If you would double my amounts listed, it's possibly you may run into some blending trouble depending on the age of your dried fruits...

Dehydrated Granola (original recipe from the Roasting Rambler, adapted)
  • 12 mixed dried fruit (I used about half dates, then figs and cranberries)
  • 14 oz. total nuts and/or seeds (I used a 12 oz. mixture of crispy almonds, walnuts and peanuts, and 2 oz. sesame seed)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 t. salt (you may wish to use a tad less)
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 oz. unsweetened coconut (I use a brand like this)
  • 1 oz. cacao nibs
In a food pro, pulse the nuts (I leave the sesame seeds out, since they are so small anyway) until they are a uniform consistency that you would prefer in your granola, about 15 one second pulses. Empty them into a large bowl.

Add dried fruit to food pro, and pulse to chop. Add the lemon juice, salt, cinnamon and vanilla, and run the processor to blend the mixture well. With the motor running, add the water through the top until the mixture is like a runny paste. (I'm imagining I will add cocoa powder to the mixture at this point sometime...)

Scrape the dried fruit paste into the bowl with the nuts and add in the sesame seeds (if you didn't add them to the nut mixture), the coconut and the cacao nibs. Stir well to combine.

Spread the mixture on two dehydrator trays lined with parchment paper. Try to spread it as thin and as even as possible, without worrying about it too much. Dehydrate (I used 147 degrees) for 8-12 hours, longer if it still isn't brittle when you check it.

Break into pieces and store in glass jars. I like to keep excess of all granola in the freezer if I have the space, since I feel that it stays crunchier - but it's not necessary I'm sure.

fruit paste.

the granola mixture prior to dehydration.

spread as thin as possible.

after dehydrating.

I got 2 1/2 quart jars full of dehydrated granola. I keep my dehydrator in the basement, and when I ran busily up and downstairs, trekking clean laundry to the clotheslines I kept peeking in to look at it. Laundry complete, I then forgot all about it until this morning, when the machine had turned itself off, and it was done: crunchy, brittle shards just waiting to be broken in my hands.

I want to more fully embrace my dehydrator this year. Since it came to live with me, I don't feel I've given it the usage it deserves. I have quite a lot of tart cherries on the way, and think I'll enter the world of fruit leathers as well as dried fruit. We made fruit leathers when I was a kid, but I don't think I've had one since. I'm fairly excited to puree something cherry and apricotish in the VitaMix to try out. Come Fall, I may even try candying my own cranberries, if I can get past the tradition of just making and then eating a whole batch of these instead.

It seems like I'm starting to feel like I can barely keep up. I remember often my Mom telling me that it felt like her 30's came in "clumps", the time just flew with the business of child raising, food prep and preservation, gardening and yard work. I like to think that I have unending stamina, that I can work until my hands positively bleed, sleep 3 hours and then get up and work some more. But today I'm tired. I slept on the couch this afternoon in full sight of a basket of unfolded laundry. I didn't do the lunch dishes until after 7 pm, after a nighttime library nature program where my son was transformed into the cutest ant ever. I refuse to admit that I need sleep, and I do - though now it's getting late and that nap is beginning to make me feel like I could go all night. I probably should since I have 4 pounds of dilly beans to pickle...

I suppose they will still be there in the morning, when a handful of this new granola makes itself my breakfast with a few tart cherries that I had to buy from a favorite orchard owner today. It could be disheartening to think of all the things I've forgotten out there that are likely as great as this granola. It's disheartening to think that my memory isn't quite as sharp as it used to be. For now, I remember what I need when I need it I guess.