The Ubiquitous Olive Oil Granola, Twisted!

I’m not going to say that if you haven’t either heard of, read about, tasted, or made Melissa Clark’s Olive Oil Granola that you’re living under a rock.  I’ll let Geico do it for me. (Just replace the lizard in the sign with a huge bowl of granola atop a folded and coffee-ringed slab of the New York Times).

 

First off, welcome to civilization, rock people!  There are a few things you should know:
1. Avoid Netflix and Facebook for a little while. They’re in some sort of awkward, out-of-touch-with-their-consumer-base stage.
2. Food costs are on the rise. Fears of  meat prices climbing to 30% more per pound mean back to roots and berries.  If you aren’t already, it’s high time to jump on the meatless Monday train (or meatless Weekday train if you’re us. A subject for another post).
3. REM broke up this week, which I guess would be especially newsworthy if it happened in the late ’90s.
4. Make this granola.

We made it, initially skeptical of all the rave reviews, and were happily shocked to learn that olive oil + cardamom + some oven time = butter.  This stuff tastes liked you toasted all the ingredients and then tossed them in just the right amount of the best salted butter you could find.

Three batches later, and we’ve got our favorite version down – quite similar to the original, but with a few twists. It’s usually hard to part with even a crumb, but my youngest sister M, a freshman in college, is going to benefit from our fourth batch. It’s in a totally magnificent care package en route to her in Ohio.

Olive Oil Granola
(Recipe from Melissa Clark’s version in the New York Times)

3 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups chopped almonds (and/or mix of pecans, hulled pistachios)
1 1/2 cups coconut chips (don’t skimp on these!)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon molasses
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (or split the difference between brown sugar and honey)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup chia seeds (optional but worth it)
1/4 cup millet (also optional but worth it)
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, coconut chips, maple syrup, molasses, oils, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

2. The second time you take it out of the oven to stir, mix in chia seeds, millet, and apricots. Return to oven and cook 15 more minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.

3. Try not to eat it all in one sitting. No accompaniments are needed, but here are some pairing suggestions anyway: yogurt or labneh, ice cream, milk, fruit, whipped cream, pbananas, peanut butter, preserves.

Makes approximately 9 cups.

A Little End of Workday Listening…

 

Veronica Falls, Come on Over

Love the buildup and the retro footage in the video. Just right for the push until the bell rings…

If You Can’t Fry, Roast

Despite her entrenchment in all things healthy, unrefined, and bursting with chia seeds and whole grains, my mom can’t kick her Southern roots. Twenty minutes  in Texas is all it takes for her to chuck the amaranth and embrace the greasy, greasy chicken fried steak.  One of her ultimate favorites, and mine, and all those lovely senior citizens in the cafeteria line, is fried okra.

For years she’s tried to replicate the recipe in her Pennsylvania kitchen, and although the results have always been tasty, and usually crispy, they just don’t match those awesome little crunchy fried balls you can get at Luby’s.  I suppose that’s the point – some dishes have to be enjoyed solely on their home front, and any attempt at replication is just that – an attempt.

Other examples in my life experience: fresh shrimp and hush puppies in North Carolina, Bill Miller Bar-B-Q’s iced tea bucket and po’ boys, the salsa at Tomatillo’s in San Antonio (at least back in 1996), the almost aggressively overcooked but non-paralleled-after-water-rides-at-Cedar-Point cavatelli from Alessi’s (pronounced as if you’re wearing a retainer – “Alesshhi’sh”) in Ohio, Amish meatballs and sauerkraut from Lancaster, Anna’s burritos with refried beans in (really?? yes!) Boston… The list goes on.

Anyway. The point of all this is that if you can’t bring yourself to try to make fried okra unsuccessfully again, just roast it like my mom does.   First buy the smallest okra pieces you can find – they’ll be  tender and less fibrous.  Toss in olive oil and large grained sea salt, perhaps a crack of pepper and some red pepper flakes, or a dusting of cumin and chili powder if you’re feeling spicy, and roast at 400 to 425 for as long as it takes for them to get crispy (approx. 25 minutes).

Eat as-is like popcorn, or serve alongside a starch like sweet potatoes, brown rice, polenta, etc.  Then dream about the Luby’s line and the lemon meringue or chocolate pudding pie that awaits you at the cash register if mom is feeling particularly indulgent.  The neon jello with whipped cream on top?  Only get that if you’re weird like my sister.

Frozen Hoagies

It may be 60 degrees out in the shade, but when you see a pink and white truck with “FROZEN HOAGIES” hand painted across the front and sides, you darn well better stop. Summer isn’t the only time for ice cream, but if you’re hellbent on it being fall, just check out the seasonal flavors – pumpkin, maple, sweet cream, on a gingerbread or pumpkin cookie.

This truck was a new addition to our SOWA stroll, and the 6-people-deep line piqued our interest.  Up close, the details are perfect – the afore-mentioned hand painted lettering, carefully drawn whiteboard signs with the specials, a precocious, whip-smart little boy entertaining customers and answering questions about the product, the pure Massachusetts accent from his mother taking your order, and behind her, tupperware boxes stacked with tower upon tower of fragrant, homemade cookies.

There were some grumbles from the Mr., who had his heart set on a frozen yogurt all week, but they were quickly stifled after we were handed the sweet cream ice cream on gingerbread cookie monstrosity you see pictured above.  In fact, the first bite elicited the following comment: “F*!@% Pinkberry.” (Rest assured that this was uttered far out of hearing vicinity of the little boy, his mother, and all Frozen Hoagie patrons).

An avowed Twitter hater, the Mr. even said he might have to join it just to follow this truck’s feed and find out where it’s parked.  I’m inclined to agree.

Hanna

 

Hanna was gamble that paid off.  We gave it a shot after it cleared our stringent requirements for Rotten Tomatoes ratings (and by stringent I mean 70% or higher on a discriminatory day, 60% or hirer on an indulgent one) and were pleasantly surprised.  It’s got superbly executed action sequences, relatively solid acting (if you can get past a few stock characters and Cate Blanchett’s weird husky Southern accent), and a seamlessly integrated Chemical Brothers score that elevated the whole shebang.  Even though things go a bit bizarre towards the end (why are they meeting up in a deserted German amusement park again?), there’s something satisfying about watching a that freckled little girl annihilate men three times her size, and cleanly.  It’s a good Friday night movie after a draining work week, and 10 bonus points to you if you can guess the last line of the movie at least three minutes before it’s delivered.  My mom is really good at that.