Monthly Archives: July 2013

Bake It Easy

Our country town’s fair committee held its annual granola-making session last Saturday, where I not only picked up a great recipe for granola to share with you (see below) but also some best baking practices from one of our town’s most experienced bakers. These three tips may seem stupidly simple. But, believe me, they make the process lots easier and less messy:

1- Put a cookie sheet or large bowl underneath the measuring cup when working with fly-away ingredients (like flour or the wheat germ in this recipe).

2- Use your clean hands rather than a utensil to combine the liquid with the dry ingredients in this granola recipe before layering the mixture onto the baking sheets.

3-Pour rather than ladle cake batter into the baking pan. It’s much faster.

Mountain Granola Recipe

(Makes 10-12 cups)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix:

4 cups rolled oats

1-1/2 cups hulled sunflower seeds

1 cup wheat germ

2 cups mixed nuts, coarsely chopped (walnuts, pecans, almonds)

Pour over the mixture:

1-1/2 cups honey

3/4 cup of light vegetable oil (safflower, canola or sunflower but not olive oil)

2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix and spread in a layer on cookie sheets.  Bake for 20 minutes. Then stir ingredients and rotate sheets in the oven. Bake until lightly browned, another 20 minutes.

Remove sheets from oven and let cool.

Then mix in:

1–1-1/2 cups dried fruit (such as raisins, apricots, cranberries)

Store in container in cool place.

A Piece of Pie

In a New York Times article extolling the wonders of pie (“Humble Pie? Precisely,” July 2,2013), Jennifer Steinhauer shared a tip for preventing the bottom crust of fruit pies from becoming soggy: Start the pie near the bottom of the oven, beginning with a blast of heat ( say, 400 degrees), then turn it down midway.

I feel justified passing along her suggestion, since I actually learned it from my mother-in- law, who was known to make the best apple pie ever. Not that I bake many pies myself, but I wish I’d also learned her secret for getting them to mound so high and look so camera ready.

Even if you’re more of a pie eater than baker, you will probably enjoy Steinhauer’s story. It’s a hoot as well as a help! Here’s the link:

Chive Pesto

I couldn’t possibly use even a fraction of the incredible crop of chives we’re blessed with each year, but it would be a shame to waste them. I’ve found that one easy way to preserve large quantities is to turn them into what I call chive pesto, which I make exactly as I would basil pesto and then freeze in small portions to use all winter.

The pesto makes a perky accent to any number of dishes. But I especially like it stuffed under the skin of chicken breasts or legs before broiling or grilling them.