Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Friday, December 17, 2010

homemade granola

over the years i have tried many different granola recipes, and have finally decided on this one as my favorite.  it comes from the recipe book titled the ski house cookbook.  this recipe can be varied based on personal taste and what ingredients are available in the pantry.

ingredients:  3 1/2 cups of whole grain old fashioned oats, 1/3 cup coconut, 1/3 cup nuts (sliced almonds, chopped walnuts or pecans), 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  mix these ingredients in a bowl.  next, in a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup maple syrup, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter. melt and pour over the dry ingredients.  spread the mixture on a sheet pan sprayed with canola oil.  bake for about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.  when the granola looks slightly brown, remove from the oven and cool. then, add 2/3 cup of either raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried blueberries, or other dried fruit. store in a covered jar and enjoy for breakfast.  the granola can also be prepared without the nuts or dried fruit and served with them as toppings at the table, so each guest can personalize their granola for breakfast.

christmas meal planning

i have been working on holiday menus for the past week. over the years i have collected many christmas books, and these are three of my favorites.  country living's country christmas contains a variety of recipes as well as decorating ideas for the holiday.  martha stewart's books always include wonderful ideas for wreaths, table arrangements, as well as menu ideas and desserts.

i have been reading susan branch's book for wonderful poems, phrases, and delightful drawings about winter and the christmas season. her hand painted drawings are colorful and charming. i have found several ideas for this year's celebration.

tea and christmas peppermint spoons

since i am an avid tea drinker i often sample a variety of teas each week.  although my preference is for green tea, and choose that over many others, i do enjoy all teas made by tea forte. these teas are prepared in silken infusers and allow the tea leaves to gently infuse into the hot water. i believe this accounts for their superior taste.

for the holidays, i purchased their collection which contains crimson nectar, apple pomegranate, and sweet orange spice.  i have been waiting to sample them, and just admiring them in my spode christmas bowl in the dining room.  these teas are more costly than standard tea bags and average two dollars per serving.

also for the holidays, i purchased peppermint tea spoons that can be used in tea, coffee or hot cocoa. i believe i will use them in hot cocoa on a snowy evening by the fireside.  a warm drink, a cozy fireplace, and someone to love makes the season wonderful.

bread dressing with leeks

before preparing the bread dressing, it is very important to clean the bunch of leeks.  i slice them in half, separate the leaves and allow them to soak in cold water while thoroughly cleaning them before cutting into pieces for the dish.

other ingredients for the dressing include:  celery, yellow onions, salt, pepper, and bacon.  after chopping the celery, onion and slicing the bacon, i prepare the casserole dish.  it must be sprayed with canola or olive oil prior to cooking the dressing.  next, i make the broth.  using bouillon cubes, i make several cups of chicken, turkey or vegetable broth.  this year, i used vegetable broth for the dressing.

toast your crusty croutons or pre purchase croutons in the deli.  i find that these are much better quality than the bagged croutons, providing a better dressing. mix the croutons and other ingredients together after they have been sauteed in a large skillet with a bit of olive oil.  after the ingredients are mixed, add enough broth to moisten but not allow the croutons to become too soft.  place the dressing in the casserole dish and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 35 to 45 minutes.
 here are photos of the bread dressing before and after baking.  if you prepare the bread dressing earlier than needed, be certain to place in the refrigerator to keep cold before baking.