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the view from my window

The predicted snow came. Twenty-five inches in my part of Connecticut. It was, and still is, beautiful. A friendly snow, as January blizzards go. While the volume was substantial, it was really rather benign–light and fluffy, little blowing or drifting.  But it did slow things down a bit, and that is almost always a good thing.

a winter treat — anytime 

dig in! granola, milk, and last summer's blueberries

How do you spend a gift “snow day”? One of my favorite places is in the kitchen, making something warm and hearty, something I might not have time for on a more scheduled day. Granola. Why not? It takes a bit of time to make, mostly because you need to bake it slowly at a low temperature. It’s aroma fills the house with a feeling similar to what you achieve with a baked apple pie: sweet warmth, goodness, security.

It’s not just a winter treat at all; I enjoy it year round. It’s full of good-for-you ingredients with high doses of fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids. It’s not exactly a “diet” food since much of what makes it nutritious also adds calories and fats (like the nuts), but you can take comfort that there are few hollow calories in this granola.

getting the goods

Go to your local health food, or healthier food store and raid their bulk items aisle. Not only will you get better products (a good variety of organic options), you’ll most likely spend a lot less than buying the prepackaged varieties.

granola recipe

Preheat oven to 250°

Spray large roaster pan with oil spray — I like to use olive oil in pump bottle.

Mix in a large mixing bowl the following ingredients in these approximate quantities:

  • 4 C. regular (organic) rolled oats — NOT instant or quick cooking
  • 2 C. raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 C. raw wheat germ (toasted will work, but raw is better)
  • 1 C. ground flax seeds — must grind or crush to release oil, which contains the good nutrients

    I use a thoroughly cleaned coffee mill to grind the flax

  • 1 teas. salt
  • 4 C. roughly chopped nuts de jour. I love nuts and load my granola with them, but I use whatever I have on hand: walnuts, almonds, pecans usually — heavy on the walnuts since they are so high in Omega 3 fatty acids.
  • 2 Tbsp. pure vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp. water
  • ½ C. mild flavored olive oil or other good quality vegetable oil
  • 1 — 1 ½ C. honey
Mix all ingredients until thoroughly moistened. The order of the ingredients isn’t really important, but I put in the dry ingredients first, then add the oil and liquids. The mixture should be sticky and moist, but not drippy. If it feels too dry, add a bit more honey and oil.

no particular order needed for adding the ingredients

Pour into prepared baking pan; bake at 250° for 30 minutes.

mix ingredients very well

Check and stir, then pat down softly. Continue to bake another hour to hour and a half, check, stir, and pat down every 15 to 20 minutes. Check it more often once it starts to brown a bit. You’ll find that the browning process is not linear. Once it begin to brown, it will brown or burn quickly.

check the granola often at the end, should be light brown around the edges

When done, remove from the oven. If you like chunky granola, let it cool before you stir it, and it will form big hunks. Once cool, add raisins, craisins, dates or other dried fruit, if desired.  Keep in air-tight container.

store in airtight container

The granola should easily keep fresh on the shelf in an air-tight container for four to six weeks. If you need to keep it longer than that, divide the finished batch and store part in the freezer until ready to use.

When using the frozen granola, remove from freezer and thaw completely before opening the container. That will prevent moisture from creeping into the thawing granola.

 

Dottie's blueberry cobbler baked

 

It’s mid-October and, yes, blueberry season is over in Connecticut, but if you’ve squirred away a supply in your freezer, blueberry cobbler makes a great dessert for a fall or winter meal. Pair with a squash soup and a hearty bread, you’ve got an easy, delicious, and local meal!

I’m including two recipes here. For years, Dottie’s blueberry cobbler has been my go-to cobbler year round.  This past summer I was introduced to Jeni’s blueberry cobbler, an equally delicious and easy-to-prepare dessert with a traditional crumb topping. Technically, I’d probably call Jeni’s a “crisp,” and Dottie’s somewhere between a buckle and a slump. I’d also call both yummy!

fond memories of a dear friend

Dottie and I became friends in 1978 when I was pregnant with my third daughter. Her oldest daughter was the same age as my second daughter.  We raised our babies together and through the years learned inventive ways to support each other in those challenging child rearing times. One was to exchange meals and kids. We’d take turns giving each other a break. The “On Duty” couple would prepare a meal for the “Off Duty” couple, and would also take the “Off Duty” couple’s children for a few hours so that they could enjoy a meal in peace and quiet. On one of these date nights, Dottie brought over her blueberry cobbler. I loved it that night, and have made it more times than I can count over the years. It has been shared with countless folks over the years, and I’m sure Dottie (who passed on over a decade ago) would be pleased to have me share with you.

new recipe from a new friend

Didn’t think that anything could woo me away from Dottie’s cobbler. Then, after a meeting with a church board, Jeni served her cobbler warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Wow! Jeni’s is equally simple to make, is probably a bit more nutritious than Dottie’s since it has oatmeal and walnuts, and gives you the option making a double recipe of the crumb topping and storing it for later use.

So, I’ll let you be the judge. Try them both and let me know what you think. Either way, it’s definitely a win/win situation.

Recipes

Dottie’s Fruit Cobbler

Serve 4 to 6

1 C. flour

1/2 C. (1 stick) butter or margarine — I use only 1/4 C. and it’s still great

1 T. baking powder

1/2 teasp. salt

1 C. sugar

1 C. milk

2 C. fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) blueberries*

 

cobbler batter -- do not overmix

 

 

pour batter into melted butter

 

 

pour fruit into batter

 

 

Don't worry about mixing in the fruit!

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put butter or margarine in a 9″ x 9″ baking pan and place in the oven. While the oven is heating and the butter is melting, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add milk to dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Pour batter into center of melted butter in hot baking pan. Pour fruit into center of batter. Return pan to oven and bake for 45 to 60 minutes. Crust will be puffy, golden brown and pulled away slightly from sides.

Serve immediately. If desired, top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

* works well with other fruits such as peeled and chopped peaches, strawberries, blackberries, black raspberries.

Jeni’s blueberry cobbler

Serves 4 to 6

2/3 C. flour

1 C. rolled oats

1/2 C. light brown sugar

1/2 C. butter or margarine at room temperature

1/2 teasp. ground cinnamon

1/4 teasp. salt

1/4 C. chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds) — I use a bit more

2 C. fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) blueberries

zest from one lemon

aerosol or pump oil spray

 

grate one lemon for zest

 

 

sprinkle zest on blueberries

 

 

unbaked crump topping on berries

 

 

Jeni's blueberry cobbler, baked

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make topping: Mix together oats, flour, butter, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nuts. Knead as necessary until topping is soft and crumbly.** Spray an 9″ x 9″ baking dish with baking or oil spray to reduce sticking. Add blueberries. Grate one lemon for zest. Sprinkle zest on blueberries. Sprinkle topping on blueberries. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from oven. Serve hot or warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

** Double the crumb topping recipe and put half in freezer for another time.

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