Jane’s Nutty Granola

This has become my daily breakfast with a banana and yogurt.  It’s what I call the perfect granola.

Jane’s Nutty Granola

2 1/2 c. rolled oats
2/3 c. hazelnuts
2/3 c. almonds
2/3 c. pecans
1/4 c. wheat germ or ground flaxseed
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1/2 c. pepitas
1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 c. sesame seeds
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. cardamom

1/3 c. coconut oil
1 T. fresh ginger, grated
1/2 c. honey

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  In a saucepan, warm coconut oil, honey, and ginger.  Mix into dry ingredients.  Spread on a rimmed backing sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 350 F., mixing halfway through to ensure even baking.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

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Braised Pork Chops with Apples

I came to this recipe after acquiring some particularly thick, bone-in pork chops that didn’t fry up well.  My search brought me to the Joy of Cooking (always a go-to when it comes to staples), and resulted in one of my favorite ways to make pork.  The technique of searing and then baking results in extremely tender chops with good flavor.  I loved the recipe so much that my personal copy of Joy now boasts a Mom-style annotation: delicious!

My adaptation strays from the original in that I tend to use apples and cider (as opposed to other fruits, such as prunes, apricots, or pineapple slices, and chicken stock or other fruit juices), but mostly because I usually have apples on hand when I have chops in the fridge.  I also tend simply to make a reduction from the pan juices as opposed to a sour-cream-enriched sauce as the original recipe recommends.  Of course, as with any good dish, this one is open to interpretation.  Perhaps some day I will feel compelled to mix it up… but in the meantime, I simply plan to enjoy.

Braised Pork Chops with Apples
Adapted from “Braised Pork Chops with Fruit,” Rombauer & Becker, Joy of Cooking (30th printing, May 1983), p. 479

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Season your pork chops (3/4 inch thick or more; allow 1 chop per person) with salt, pepper, and rosemary.  Sear on both sides in a lightly greased hot skillet.

Core apples (1 apple for every 2 chops).  Place one half of an apple on each of the chops, skin side down (so they form a cup).  Fill the centers of the fruit with brown sugar.

Cover the bottom of the skillet to 1/2 inch with apple cider.  Cover the pan closely.  Bake about 1 hour.  Remove the chops from the pan carefully, so as not to disturb the fruit.  Keep warm.  If desired, make a reduction from the pan juices.  It’s delicious on potatoes.

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Possibly See’s Fudge

The family tale, whether true or not, is that a friend of my Mother requested the recipe for her favorite fudge from See’s Candy.  She was so thrilled when she was granted the recipe. It was followed up by a charge of $100.  Her response was to share the recipe with her friends, so that they would not have to incur the fee.  Truth or fiction, it is creamy and delicious.

5 c. sugar, place in large kettle
1-13 oz. can evaporated milk
3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (3-6 oz. bags)
1 c. butter
18 marshmellows, cut into pieces
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
2 full cups walnuts, cut into large chunks

Place chocolate, marshmellows, butter, salt in large bowl.  Put sugar and milk into kettle and boil until it forms a soft ball (about 6 minutes after it starts to boil).  Stir constantly.  Test in ice cold water, to see if it can be rolled into a soft ball (soft ball stage on a candy thermometer).  Take off fire and pour over mixture in bowl.  Stir by hand until well mixed.  Add vanilla and nuts.  Do not beat.

Pour into well buttered pan, so that it is about 1″ thick.  Keep in refrigerator.  Cut when needed.

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Sauerkraut: Naturally Fermented

from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz

Allow 1-4 weeks for fermentation.

5 lbs. cabbage
3 Tablespoons sea salt

Chop or grate cabbage finely or however you like it.  Place cabbage in a large bowl as you chop, so that you can salt it as you go.  Add other vegetables (carrots, onions, garlic, etc.)  Add dill seeds or caraway seeds.  Mix ingredients together and pack into a crock (or food grade plastic bucket from the bakery section of your supermarket) in small portions.

Tamp down the cabbage tightly into the crock and force the water out of the cabbage.  Cover the cabbage with a plate or other lid that fits snugly inside the crock.  Place a clean weight (jar filled with water) on the cover.  The weight will force water out of the cabbage and keep it submerged under the brine.  Cover the crock with a dish towel or cloth to keep out dust/flies.

Press down on the weight to add pressure to the cabbage and force water out of it.  Do this every few hours, until the brine rises above the plate.  If the brine does not rise above the plate level by the next day, add enough salt water to bring the brine above the plate.  Add about 1 T. of salt to 1 cup of water and stir until completely dissolved.

Leave the crock to ferment.  Check it every day or two.  The volume reduces as the cabbage ferments.  Sometimes mold/scum appears on the surface.  It referred to a “bloom”.  Skim what you can off the surface.  Don’t worry if you cannot get it all.  It is a surface phenomenon, a result of contact with the air.  The cabbage is under the anaerobic protection of the brine.  Rinse off the plate and weight, and taste.  After a few days, it will taste tangy, getting stronger as the time goes on.  In cool temperatures, it will ferment slowly for months and months as it improves in flavor.  In a heated room or during the summer, it will ferments more rapidly and becomes soft.

Scoop out some to keep in the refrigerator.  The flavor will evolve over the several weeks of fermentation.  Each time you scoop some cabbage out of the crock, repack it carefully.  Make sure the cabbage is tightly packed and the brine covers the plate. Add more salted water if the brine evaporates.   Keep it submerged.

Keep the sauerkraut juice as a digestive tonic.

Now try beets or carrots.

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Silver Palate Pie Crust

2 1/2 c. unbleached flour
2 t. sugar
1 t. salt
8 T. chilled butter (1 stick)
6 T. leaf lard, vegetable shortening, or more butter, chilled
5-6 T. ice water, as needed

Sift flour, sugar, and salt into a mixing bowl.  Add chilled butter and lard.  Using a pastry blender, cut the fat into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle on ice water, 2-3 Tbsp. at a time and toss with a fork.  Turn dough out onto your work surface, and using the heel of your hand, smear dough away from you, about a 1/4 c. at a time.  Scrape it up into a ball and wrap in wax paper.  Chill for 2 hours.

Roll dough out to 1/4″ thickness on a floured work surface.  Makes one 9″ double crust.

If prebaking a single crust, line the cough in the pie plate with foil and fill with beans or rice.  Bake at 425F for 8 minutes.  Then remove the lining.  Prick bottom of cough with a fork and return pie plate to oven for 10-13 minutes, or until the crust is golden.

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Rhubarb Custard Pie

When I was a kid on the West Coast, my family seldom ate rhubarb.  After moving East, I  soon learned to appreciate this humble vegetable (a fruit in NY), which peeks through the cold ground in spring . . . one of the first harvests from the garden.  This is my favorite way to eat rhubarb.

1 c. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 T. flour
1/8 t. salt
3+ c. rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces

Line a 9″ pie plate with a crust.  In bowl, combine ingredients.  Pour into pastry.  Cover with top crust.  Bake at 425F for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 325F for 30 minutes.

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Sorrel Soup

This past weekend, I had a great springtime haul from the farmer’s market, and I’ve been nibbling my way through it ever since. The first thing I made was strawberry shortcake with the amazing fresh strawberries (the supermarket can never compare!), and I’ve definitely got designs on that rhubarb. I sense more delicious desserts in the near future.

Fresh sorrel.

Fresh sorrel.

What I am currently enjoying is a sorrel soup based on purportedly Polish recipes I tracked down on the web. There appear to be many variations, but these generally matched the kinds of ingredients I had on hand.

Carrot, onion, and celery are the basis of the stock.

Carrot, onion, and celery are the basis of the stock.

I basically made a quick vegetable stock by sauteeing onions, carrot, and celery in butter with salt, pepper, and parsley, and adding water and letting them cook. I added potatoes and dill, and added more water until I had a good stock and the vegetables were tender.

Potatoes, chopped and ready to go.

Potatoes, chopped and ready to go.

Dill and parsley.

Dill and parsley.

I thickened the mixture with sour cream and flour (mixed together in a paste and thinned with broth, which mixture I added to the soup), before adding the chopped sorrel.

Thickening the stock with sour cream and flour.

Thickening the stock with sour cream and flour.

I have been serving it garnished with hard boiled egg, sour cream, dill, parsley, and some fresh chopped sorrel I reserved for the purpose, plus more salt and pepper. Even if it isn’t quite the real thing, it’s been totally delicious!

Sorrel soup, ready to enjoy.

Sorrel soup, ready to enjoy.

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