Wednesday, January 14, 2015

tyger tyger

This is good news. Hooray for the Chinese Zodiac and a new year that begins with tiger month commencing February 4. A few of my favorites.
Top to bottom: thrifted needlepoint hanging in my sewing room, blue tiger by Marcus Butt (available here), Tiger Brand and Tiger balm logos.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Coconut Granula

No white food? Tell that to the currently coconut-crazed food world. Thinking about using up my giant pillow-sized bag of Costco coconut…I shake my head no at tempting visions of macaroons, and instead make granola.  I've made various iterations of it for years, not so much cause I like to eat it— but because my husband does. And the house smells good when it's in the oven.
There are gazillion ways to do it; my version is sort of a mashup of old-school Harrowsmith/Moosewood cookbooks and modern-day Smitten Kitchen. (She also has a very nice recipe for a sort of reverse-granola;  nuts with beaten egg white and a pulverized granola coating.)

My version is nut-heavy, and light on the dried fruit. Knowing now what I never knew back then about glycemic indexes and other such tedious dietary topics; I've also dialed back the sugar, honey, maple syrup or molasses from a cup or more in the good old days—to about 1/4 cup sweetener per 5-6 cups rolled oats. Fat—about the same; 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil with ghee is good. And, to give it a bit of that nice sticky quality, I always melt a couple of tablespoons of nut butter into the warm oil.  Also, a tablespoon of either coconut flour or dried milk powder tossed in as you mix it all together boosts the sticky factor nicely. So. To sum up. 

Granula…my way

5-6 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup of oil
1/4 cup brown sugar, plus your choice of: honey, maple syrup or molasses, about 2 heaping tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flaked quinoa (optional),1/2 cup ground flax seed (or substitute wheat germ if you are reliving 1972. "Quinoa? Flax? what the—huh?")
1 cup coconut (pre-toast lightly in oven—don't skip this step!)
1/4 cup sesame seeds (optional)
2 generous tablespoons peanut or almond butter
1 and a half cups of assorted nuts: flaked or slivered almonds, hazelnuts, pecan pieces, walnuts or pepitas
1/3 cup raisins, cranberries, dates or dried cherries
Optional flavorings: 1 tsp cinnamon, vanilla or almond extract (or all 3!)
1 tablespoon coconut flour or dry milk powder

Pre-toast coconut and nuts/seeds. Just enough to freshen them up and give the coconut a hint of blonde. Set aside to cool.
If your oil is solid, melt it in a heat proof container large enough to add the sweeteners, plus the nut butter.(You'll need room for fairly vigorous stirring)
Toss dried milk powder or coconut flour over the oats in a large bowl. Drizzle the still-warm oil, sweetener, nut butter emulsion over top. Stir with spoon or mix with your hands.
!Don't add the coconut or dried fruit yet! And don't wash the big bowl, you'll need it again.
When oats and emulsion are nicely mixed; spread thinly on the biggest sheet pan you've got. You don't want it crowded because it'll be messy when you stir, and takes longer to achieve desired texture.
Bake 250 to 300 degrees. After 15 minutes to half an hour, stir, bringing the outer edges of the mix to the middle. Back into the oven for 15 minutes to half hour. Keep an eye on it; when you start getting that toasty colour, it will only need a few minutes more. Pour toasted mixture back into mixing bowl when cool enough to handle, then add coconut, dried fruit and ground flaxseed. Return to the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes. 
Let cool completely before storing in jars. And to keep that crunch intact; store your granola in the freezer. It's delish.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

sticks and stones

The beach where I live is a shape-shifter. Winter storms bring new detrius and take away the old…the logs, the seaweed, even the surface on which we tread. 
Summer beaches are pebbly and strewn with kelp and seagrass; peppered with white clam and oyster shells and many crab carapaces. Sand beaches usually only come in winter. Gifts from the sea.
Log shop on the beach…someone has plans to cart this beauty away after it has dried. Let's hope it's not for firewood.
 Still life with flipflop. Footwear is the most common beach junk to wash ashore.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

bye bye 2014… HELLO

No glue needed to attach calendar pages—so last year's version can be reused!
A sort-of DIY, an idiot-proof guide to your makin' your own cute calendar. (Hey, if I can do it…)
① Cut the cover off an old book with pretty endpapers, OR, mount a favorite image on a piece of plain book board. (Tip: for free book board, grab an vinyl 3-ring binder and rip the vinyl cover off. This also works with yearbooks, the glossy paper peels off easily.)

② Scavenge a free calendar. Banks and realtors are reliable sources. OR, download here (also the source for owl art from the generous artists supporting My Owl Barn's annual calendar project). How sweet is this image by Flora Chang?

③ Trim the calendar pages down and stick em on with thumbtacks, paper fasteners or mini bulldog clips. 
 I buy my mini bulldog clips at Daiso, but art supply stores and craft stores have them too.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Leo Politi, from this charming book,
♡ a favorite souvenir from a trip to Los Angeles.
Best of the season to all.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sugar Sugar

I'm taking a break from sugar abstinence.  The urge to bake is just too overwhelming this time of year. And the urge to eat… well, that's another blog post.  
My cookie hero is San Francisco's Jean Scardina. At 79, in 2008, she was interviewed by Amanda Hesser regarding her astounding annual cookie production—500 dozen, 16 varieties, a christmas tradition dating back to 1951.  My favorite quote from the article… "This is my own madness, and I can't see dragging anyone else into it", when queried whether she ever accepted any help in producing this staggering output of neatly decorated cookies.
Anyway, mine don't look as good as hers, but they'll do. I'll have a half dozen tins of assorted to give away, and then put the cutters away for another year. 

Chocolate Jitterbugs (from the Ikea Fika book)
Dough | 1 cup (225ml) all purpose flour, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 100g. butter, 1/4 cup superfine sugar, 1/2 an egg yolk. Meringue | 1 egg white, 1/2 cup superfine sugar
Method: Sift dry ingredients, mix with room temperature butter, yolk and sugar. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. Roll dough inbetween parchment sheets to 6 x 12 inch rectangle. 
Beat white till foamy, incorporate sugar slowly. (For firmer meringue do this over water in a double boiler). Spread cooled meringue over dough, roll up lengthwise, wrap and chill at least 15 minutes.
Cut slices approx. 1/3 inch thick, place on parchment covered sheet, bake off in a preheated 350 F. oven for 10-12 minutes.