promises, promises (Fermented Cocoa Granola of Awesomeness: a recipe)

granolablogweb

Yes, this is the stuff. Several batches were tested and devoured in record time, so I thought it best to trial the cocoa/maple ratio at double volume before presenting the recipe to you. You really do need to go for quantity here, people. Please, just trust me on this point.

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I’ve been making riffs on this fantastic recipe for quite some time, and while we love it with all manner of hearts and rainbows, there was just something missing. One day, as we were at the Co-op doing the usual bulk bin rounds, I realized that we, somewhat absently, tend to get a little chocolate granola for the road on a fairly regular basis. It’s locally made, and it’s delicious, but in my opinion, it’s an out-of-hand treat that is far too sweet for the breakfast table. Also, the price of ready made granola, even out of the bulk bin, can be prohibitive from, say, actually buying in bulk.

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Okay, so don’t cry when you see the list of ingredients. It’s not cheap to make it this way, either. It is, however, far more bioavailable and nutritionally satisfying, not to mention delicious, and I find those benefits to outweigh the initial investment in quality ingredients (which turn out to cost less per pound of finished product than the unfermented bulk bin version, anyway). You should end up with at least 2 gallons of finished product, which you are likely to consume at a slower rate than it’s non-fermented cousin, as this is dense with healthy fat and sustaining calories.

Things you need:

16 cups rolled oats
1 cup butter (I prefer salted) and 1 cup coconut oil, melted together and cooled slightly
3 cups whole yogurt
4 cups water

Things you need to do:

Mix the oats, butter, coconut oil, yogurt, and water together in a large bowl. Cover with a clean towel or cloth and let sit at room temperature for 24-36 hours.

More things you need:

2 cups maple syrup (or a combination of maple syrup and honey…maple flavor compliments the chocolate more favorably than using all honey)
1 1/2 cups raw cacao powder
3 teaspoons sea salt
2+ (to taste) teaspoons cinnamon

More things to do:

Mix the maple syrup, cacao powder, salt, and cinnamon. You made want to heat the sweetener a bit to thin it out for mixing. It takes some doing with a whisk, but perseverance will get all the cocoa powder incorporated and smooth. Add this to your oats and mix well. I mean really well. This is the hardest part and takes some serious elbow grease. Your soaked oats well be a heavy, glommed up mess. Use a wooded spoon to force the sweetener mixture into the oat mixture. You will exhaust your mixing arm, but remind yourself that it will be worth it.

Spread the mixture evenly onto the trays of a dehydrator (my preferred method), or onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Only do this with an oven if you can set it to a really low temperature and you’re around to keep an eye on it.

In the dehydrator, I give it about 24 hours on 115 degrees. In the oven, you’ll have to monitor closely and timing will vary greatly. Report back, if you will, and I can incorporate that info here. You know it’s done when it’s thoroughly dry and will snap apart.

And lastly (also, optionally):

I don’t find this step to be optional, because I think to play with one’s food is an act of virtue, especially when you’re upping the delight factor in consuming said food. Here is where your personal tastes and artistic flair get in on the action…don’t cage that creative beast! I like to add the following:

2 cups shredded coconut, lightly toasted
3 cups sliced “crispy” almonds
2 cups currants, raisins, or juice-sweetened dried cranberries

Pecans and/or walnuts are a fantastic replacement for/addition to the almonds. Goji berries, dried blueberries or cherries, um…apples? Use what you like!

Other flavor options we’ve tried are adding vanilla and/or almond extract, or chili powder in the sweetening step. Oh, and more cinnamon. One time, I had recently dehydrated mint leaves in the dehydrator and didn’t want to deal with cleaning it thoroughly and ended up with a mint-infused cocoa granola, which was quite delicious. Tell me your favorites!

granolakitty

Beezer likes it, too.

I’m a day late, but can I play in the This Week in My Kitchen blog hop? Why yes, yes I can.

Cheers!

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When you hit the jackpot, fry it up.

morelsblog

We hit the jackpot last night, a few days after the last heavy rain. I’m quite sure there is no mushroom more worthy of portraiture. The morel reminds me of a sea sponge, the brain, and the inside of an ant hill; the flavor delicate, earthy, and transporting. It’s a once-in-a-season treat that turned our simple Sunday evening plans for grilling into a celebratory feast.

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But, we didn’t grill these babies. I didn’t want to lose the rare treasures to a sauce, either, so in order to preserve the melt-in-your-mouth, velvety texture as a stand-alone, we subjected them to the tried and true method of BBF – Battered, Breaded, and Fried, and the results had us in a fit of gastronomic joy.

Ingredients:

– However many big, beautiful morels you can gather
– Your favorite batter (I used two duck eggs, herb salt, and a splash of cream)
– Cornbread crumbs (We always make Mollie Katzen’s cornbread from the Moosewood Cookbook, subbing einkorn flour and a course, stoneground cornmeal. Any breading, with or without gluten, would work here, but we found that the subtle sweetness of cornbread was a perfect accompaniment to bring out the best of the earthy mushroom flavor).
-Butter

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Method:

Slice the morels into thick, 3/4 inch slices.

Batter generously, and then dredge in breading.

Add enough butter to a heavy frying pan for an 1/8″ depth (I used a little over 1/2 stick), and heat over a medium-low flame. Add battered and breaded morels to the pan in a single layer and cook until they a golden, crispy brown on all sides, turning frequently and keeping the butter at a nice bubble, but not so hot that it smokes. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan and quantity of mushrooms.

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These are best enjoyed while they are still hot.

We served with caramelized onions, grilled marinated eggplant and grass-fed steaks, sliced thin, and pretty much felt like royalty.

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With any luck, there will be one more flush before the season ends.

If you have morels near you, what is your favorite way to prepare them?

Yarn Along, and…

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It’s been ages since I played along with Ginny of Small Things, to share what I’m knitting and reading right now. Of course, this time of year I have several bazillion projects on the needles, but this is the one I’m most likely to finish in the next couple of days. It’s kind of a little hilarious that the last time I played, almost a year ago, I was also reading a book in the Horatio Hornblower series. Ha! This is book number 10, but I accidentally read the 11th and final book before this one. I thought it was a nice, tidy ending and wondered what would happen in the last book…until I figured out I’d just read it. Oh, well. My 19th century seafaring boyfriend is back to his madly brilliant calculating magic in this volume, so it’s no disappointment to go backwards. There have been many books in between reading the stories in this series (again), but I’m sure I’ll still feel empty when I finish this up.

Oh, and the project is my third, or maybe fourth, Ripley Hat in Manos Clasica yarn.

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And, just for the heck of it, here’s a recent off-the-needles project: the Parlor Cat. As yet, there is no face, but you can just pretend this is some typical I’m Ignoring You cat behavior.

Did I promise you a recipe? Like, two days ago? Ahem. My apologies. Here ’tis:

chiapudding

Chia Berry Awesomeness (or something like that, inspired by Pam of Never Get Eaten)

This is so easy, it’s silly, and the formula is simple to increase:

Blend this: 1 cup coconut milk, 1 cup fruit (fresh or frozen), 1 tsp of cinnamon (optional), 1 tsp vanilla (optional), and/or 1 tbsp honey (or whatever sweetener you like; also optional)

I used a hand/stick blender, but you could also use a food processor or whatever high-powered blender that will crush fruit into a puree.

Then, simply stir in 1/3 chia seeds and let set up in the fridge overnight. The texture reminds me of tapioca pudding, but the result is lighter, and I love that it’s raw and not-too-sweet.

You can easily double, triple, infinitely increase this recipe. We used strawberries and raspberries, which was delicious, but I found the little seeds annoying. Next up: mango/blueberry.