Ahhh granola, let the stereotype fester. Yes, I like granola, and yes, I do realize that it carries implications of gratuitous hippie-ism, but honestly I’m ok with that. Better this stereotype than some others. Anywho, in our attempts to live as self-sufficient as possible, Noah and I have taken some small steps here and there to reduce our consumption of value-added and/or processed foods. Of course our geography (a modest NYC apartment with 2 roommates, a tiny kitchen, and no garden/rooftop) places some limitations on our ideal lifestyle, but that’s fine for now and in fact poses a welcome challenge for us to really try and think harder about our consumption.
This brings me to granola. We’ve started buying from the bulk section of our local Whole Foods and found that a pound of rolled oats is about $1.17. Add some cinnamon, honey, and random nuts and/or seeds you have lying around the apartment and voila, you have yourself a delicious, homemade breakfast. Another great thing about homemade granola is the endless options for customization: for our next batch, we’re thinking dried Turkish apricots (splurge!), walnuts, and brown sugar. Put some granola in the oven on a Sunday and not only will your apartment smell like toasted cinnamon and honey, but your breakfasts will be set for the rest of the week!
makes about a quart
3 cups rolled oats mix
1 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup flax seed
1/4 chia seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 tbls. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
*a little note: former baker friend Meg told me that adding some vegetable oil to the mix will create more granola ‘clusters,’ this recipe yields a pretty crumbly granola
1. Line a baking pan with shallow sides with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together all the oats, nuts, seeds, and coconut in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt.
3. Pour the dry ingredients into the butter-honey mixture and stir until the oats mixture is saturated.
4. Spread the granola evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, stirring and folding the granola at 15 minute intervals. For the last 15 minutes, check the granola about every 5 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn. We took ours out of the oven after 10 minutes when it looked golden brown and the almonds were crispy.
We put our granola into a quart-sized mason jar to use as breakfast for the week (hmm, I sense potential Christmas and brithday gifts…). What are some of your favorite granola combinations?
What else pairs nicely with absurd displays of masculinity, the noxious smell of hot wings, and Genesee Cream Ales ($1.25 for a tall boy) but cupcakes. It’s been a while since I’ve made these tiny cakes, and after a visit to the new Harney & Sons store in SOHO I was inspired by one of the Harney sons to steep their Paris (black tea with vanilla, caramel, and Bergamot) tea in some milk for buttercream icing. Yes, I do see the irony of creating such a dainty dessert only to debase it with neon food coloring and beer, but I think this is emblematic of my life so far: my attempts at femininity perpetually muddled by my unabashed love for all things low-brow. I think Liz Lemon said it best on 30 Rock: “I can have it all.”
For the cupcakes, I used the vanilla cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (a relic from my vegan days). Egg prices at the farmers market are kinda steep right now, so I used the vegan recipe as a base but substituted the oil for real butter. (Recipes for the cupcakes and icing below.)
1 cup soy milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups flour
2 tbls. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup softened butter (vegans: they suggest non-hydrogenated margarine)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
For the icing:
1/3 cup whole milk
1 tsp. loose tea, I used Harney and Sons Paris tea
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 cups confectioners sugar
tsp. of vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your cupcake tray with liners.
2. Whisk together soy and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and set aside so it can curdle.
3. Sift together dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix.
4. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy . Beat in vanilla and almond extracts then alternate mixing in the soy/cider and dry ingredients.
5. Fill cupcakes holders 3/4 way up and bake for 20-22 minutes. Remember to let them cool before icing them!!
For the icing:
1. In the smallest saucepan you have, heat milk over med-low heat until lukewarm. Add the loose tea and let it steep for about 10 minutes. Don’t let the milk get too hot!
2. Once steeped, turn off the heat and strain the milk into a small bowl and allow it to cool completely before using.
3. Whip the softened butter for about 2 minutes. Then add the sugar, salt, vanilla, and milk and cream until it starts to thicken and becomes difficult to whisk.
4. Add some coloring, spread on the cupcakes, and voila!
Silk Soy has for a long time graced the shelves of my suburban fridge. However, my shift to urban student life opened my eyes to the endless soy choice of Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. After realizing the vast variety of cheaper soymilk providers, I began to doubt the glossy, over contrived cartoon of Silk pompously erect in my mini fridge.
Drinkers of soy seeking to decrease their carbon footprint and increase their moral standing in the food policy market may be shocked to find that Silk’s soy beans come primarily from Brazil and China where worker conditions leave more to be desired. Not only is Silk robbing the struggling American farmer of their dignity and money, Silk is simultaneously encouraging bad habits within the distributing world, while catering to our desire for ethical food choices.
Distributors aside, another problem with soy is that it is one of America’s top four monocrops – meaning it is generally produced on a large, single crop field – meaning it uses copious amounts of fertilizer. But most importantly, a lot of our domestic soy is produced by genetically modified seeds, thank you agri-giant Monsanto. Yuck. I’ll save the GM rant for another late night.
Choosing ethical soy is even harder considering Monsanto and other GM producing companies are resisting labeling products containing GM ingredients. So until the Supreme Court settles its feathers, we’ll be ignorant of what type of soy we are gulping into our gastro.
One of the strangest consequences of excess soy consumption is the oft-rumored decreased sperm count in men. I should probably tell my boyfriend this, although an article featured on Emax Health claims to bust this myth based on the fertility of long-time soy consuming societies, like those of soy joyous Asia. But a lone, hopeful interpretation of an infamous study will not alleviate the alarming rumor’s momentum. Until Mythbusters takes this challenge, I will consider a cut back in my sweetie’s soy.
Because of the soy quandary, I have been reduced to buying Almond milk until I can figure out a way to make the stuff myself, which is surprisingly simple but time consuming.
Once again, thank you despotic agri-biz for continuing to limit my already diminished diet.