Growing Shallots and Making Quiche.

I’m thinking about changing my blog name … to “oh boy am I still learning about gardening!”.  A bit too wordy though.  It sure does convey how I feel at the moment!  I love gardening, both vegetable and flower.  I love learning new things, too.  It’s the making mistakes part that I wouldn’t mind skipping over.

I planted shallots for the first time this year.  They did really well, and grew at a nice pace and to a good size.  You *should* pull them out of the ground once the greens start to die.  I left them a while longer, hoping they would grow even bigger.  They did grow bigger, but they also got wet.  Very, Very wet.  Have I mentioned (about a million times) the terrible weather we had this summer?  So I’ve made a note to myself that in the future, I am  to pull them as soon as the greens die.  I guess I’m lucky that most of them are still usable. Some of them I had to use right away.   I was sad to have to dump some, though.  I hate waste.

A great way to use a lot of shallots?  Caramelize them, and make a quiche! Everyone in our family likes quiche (yay!).   I make my own crust – it doesn’t take long and I think it’s worth it.  The time it takes to caramelize the shallots was also worth it to get the sweet flavor; lots of butter, on a low heat, for a long time.  Even non onion eaters can’t resist the caramelized flavor!

The Gourmand Mom blog is one I follow and I love to use her recipes – even if it’s to give me ideas or guidelines.  Quiche is a good example; I like how she puts the additions in first, then the cheese, and then the egg mixture. It’s simple and comes out great.  My crust recipe was given to me by a good friend years ago (thank you Leah!).  It’s a keeper.  I use a mixture of whole wheat & white flour, so it comes out darker, but the taste is still delicious.

Have you shared any recipes lately?

Happy baking!

American Pie Dough (that really is the name of it!)
for an 8 or 9 inch single pie shell
By Christopher Kimball with Eva Katz

My only adjustment is to use ¾ cup whole wheat flour & ½ cup white flour

1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting dough
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons (3 oz.) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch pieces
4 tablespoons (2 oz.) chilled all-vegetable shortening (in Ireland I use Cookeen)
3-4 tablespoons ice water

Mix first 3 ingredients. Scatter butter pieces, then shortening and mix until cornmeal texture. I use my fingers. Really, it isn’t hard and doesn’t take long.  Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water over mixture and fold in. Shape into ball, then flatten into 4 inch wide disk.  Dust lightly with flour, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Caramelized Shallot Quiche
Based on The Gourmand Mom’s Quiche Lorraine

2 1/2 cups peeled & sliced shallots
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups Emmenthaler cheese, grated
1 1/4 cup whole milk
3 eggs
Salt & Pepper
Pinch of nutmeg

Caramelize the shallots in the butter. Cook low and slow.  They shouldn’t brown like sauteing, but turn translucent first and then slowly turn darker in color.  I usually cook 30 minutes to 45 minutes (while the crust is in the fridge).

Line the crust with foil and bake in 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 15 minutes, remove the foil and bake a further 5 minutes.  While the crust is baking, whisk the eggs & milk, and add salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  When the crust is finished, layer with the caramelized shallots, then the cheese, then the egg mixture.  Bake for 35 – 45 minutes.

Shallots hung to dry out.

Shallots hung out to dry.

Shallots drying out.

Shallots drying out.

Shallots cleaned up and looking much better.

Shallots cleaned up and looking much better. (This is one of my favorite bowls; it was a wedding gift that was hand painted for us.)



Whole wheat & white flour crust in the making.

Whole wheat & white flour crust in the making.

Tidying up the crust.

Tidying up the crust.

Emmenthaler Cheese.

Emmenthaler Cheese.

Caramelized shallots.

Caramelized shallots.

Caramelized shallots quiche.

Caramelized shallot quiche.

Some Black-eyed Susan flowers (Rudbeckia hirta) from the garden (and another bowl of shallots!).

Some Black-eyed Susan flowers (Rudbeckia hirta) from the garden and another bowl of shallots!

An abundance of pickling cukes … and a dill pickle recipe!

Deciding what to grow in the garden is usually a fun discussion with the family.  I like including them, hoping they’ll make healthy eating choices later on.  Our  littlest one would love if we only grew potatoes and carrots!  I still have a lot of work to do with her taste buds…  My son suggested growing cucumbers this year – so we could pickle them.  We love dill pickles on our burgers and they are impossible to find in the grocery store!  Must be an American thing 🙂

We figured, why not give pickling cukes a try?  So that is what we did.   Our summer was rather cool, and wet, so it was slow growing.  I planted them next to the zucchini which didn’t mind the odd summer weather, and I really had given up hope that they’d grow at all.  But by mid-August, the cucumbers were a nice size (between 4 and 6 inches long and getting fat!).  We’ve done two batches of pickling so far, and I have enough in the garden still  for one more batch.  We’ve already eaten some, and they were delicious!

Confession time: my husband and daughter have been doing the pickling!  All of it; from finding the recipe, then pickling, and finally to taking the pictures!  It’s good to share the fun, right?

It was neat growing something new. I really enjoy going into the garden and seeing how things are growing.  It’s so nice to see all of those flowers on zucchini, pickles, and pumpkins, too!  I’ve included the recipe my husband used.  I know it had quite a strong garlic flavor the first time, so they cut back on garlic for the second batch.

Happy pickling!

Boston Pickling Cucumbers.

Boston Pickling Cucumbers.

Boston Pickling Cucumbers.

Boston Pickling Cucumbers.

Boston Pickling Cucumbers.

Look how they grow! Boston Pickling Cucumbers.

A cucumber flower.

A cucumber flower.

All lined up and ready to be pickled!

Pickling the cukes.

Pickling the cukes.

Now we wait!

Now we wait!

Kosher Garlic and Dill Pickled Cucumbers (Parve)
From , former Guide


  • 3-4 pounds (1 1/2-2 kilo) young and small cucumbers (dark green, firm, warty skin)
  • 2-4 sprigs of fresh dill
  • 6-8 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • water
  • kosher salt
  • white vinegar


1. In a large jar, place 2 sprigs of dill and 3-4 cloves of garlic.
2. Wash and snip off ends of cucumbers. Put cucumbers in the jar until it is full.
3. Add water to the jar, one cup at a time. Then add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar for every 3 cups of water added.
4. Top with 2 more sprigs of dill and 3-4 more cloves of garlic.
5. Once the jar is filled to the top, seal jar. Gently shake to mix.
6. Set in window or outside where it will get some sun. Allow approximately 4 days for fermenting. If you like more sour pickles, can can let them stay in the jar for an extra day or two.
7. Refrigerate.TIPS:1. Use cucumbers that are small, young, dark green, firm, and have warty skin.
2. The jar should be filled to the top with the cucumbers and water (see photo).
3. The vinegar ensures the pickles will be crunchy and not soft. So if you like a hard pickle, add a bit more vinegar.
4. If you want your pickles to be ready in less than 4 days, you can boil the water with the salt and vinegar. Let it stand so it gets to room temperature. And then add it to the cucumbers. This speeds the fermenting time.

Time for a cuppa? Zucchini bread with crumb topping is perfect for your break!

Zucchini bread tea break.

Zucchini bread with crumb topping on Vinegar Hill pottery.

Zucchini (courgette) are fairly easy to grow, even in Irish weather.  Just a couple of plants will yield plenty of zucchini in one season.  I have to check on them daily as they grow, because they can get quite large rather quickly.  It is better to not let them get “out of control huge” as then they lose their tastiness.

There are so many different ways to use zucchini.  We often just slice them up,  lightly coat in olive oil, add some Cajun spices,  and throw them on the outside grill.  It’s too easy!  I think our  favorite thing to do with zucchini though, as rated by family and friends, is making zucchini bread.  Only after moving to Ireland did I start to think that the name is a bit off: it should be called cake!  It’s perfect to have with your cuppa of choice, whether coffee or tea.  It isn’t a common dessert here, so I like giving it to friends and family as a way of sharing something different.

A friend from Syracuse, New York, Charlotte, shared her recipe with me last year.  I hadn’t seen crumb topping in a zucchini bread recipe before.  What a hit!  I do realize this is not a health food. 🙂  But I did make a couple of changes to the recipe to make it more healthful in my eyes:  I added some whole wheat flour,  increased the amount of zucchini, decreased the amount of sugar, and changed the sugar from white to Demerara (unrefined cane sugar), and I added nutmeg.  Yeah, I know, it still has oil in it, but ya gotta live a little!

There wasn’t any sun shining when I took my pictures (have I mentioned the weather we’ve been having this summer???).  I have my plate and cup as close to the window as possible, which isn’t a very nice set up (sorry).  The pottery is my newest addition from County Wexford. It is called Vinegar Hill, and I absolutely love it.  We met the artist and it was so nice to get the story of the historical meaning of the pattern.  But that is for another post!

I hope you get to enjoy a lovely cuppa with some zucchini bread sometime soon!

Zucchini Bread

Dana’s adaptation
of Charlotte Santella’s recipe:


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour & 1 cup white flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (can substitute ½ cup apple sauce & ½ cup oil)
  • 2  cups Demerara sugar (unrefined cane sugar)
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups grated zucchini (usually takes 2 large zucchini to get this)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Crumb Topping:

  • Crumb Topping: 1/2 cup regular oats, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup cold butter (2 oz) cut into small cubes.  Combine dry crumb topping ingredients, add cold butter and mix (I use my hands) until combined.  Add this to pan 5 minutes into baking.


  1. Grease & flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon & nutmeg together in a bowl.
  3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in dry  ingredients to the wet  mixture, along with zucchini (and nuts if using) until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans. 5 minutes into baking sprinkle crumb topping over top of  loaf pans.
  4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.   (mine are rarely finished before 60 minutes – I think because I heap those measuring cups with zucchini!).


Zucchini bread with crumb topping on Vinegar Hill pottery.

Zucchini bread with crumb topping on Vinegar Hill pottery.

Zucchini bread with crumb topping on Vinegar Hill pottery.

Zucchini bread with crumb topping on Vinegar Hill pottery.

Vinegar Hill pottery.

Vinegar Hill pottery from County Wexford.

Zucchini (courgette).

My Zucchini (courgette).

Zucchini (courgette) growing great in the raised bed.

Zucchini (courgette) growing great in the raised bed.

Zucchini (courgette) growing really well in the raised bed.

Zucchini (courgette) growing really well in the raised bed.

Wild flowers.

I couldn’t have a post without any flowers in it! 😉

Colorful Cakes to brighten this rainy, wet, and terrible weather!

Rain. I know it’s a good thing, especially for our gardens.  But enough is enough already.  I need to see the sun again!  So today, I decided to make my own rainbow.  I’ve gathered  a bunch of pictures of my baking projects.  I have just about every color covered!  I’m not an expert baker, although I do love baking.  My older daughter is 12 years old, and has taken an active roll in helping me bake.  What a huge help she is!  It is so nice to have company in the kitchen and a helping hand, too.  I wasn’t always so excited for help, especially if I was under any kind of time pressure. But I’ve gotten a little better at being patient (well, a tiny bit better, anyway), and she gets more helpful with every project!  I haven’t let go of the icing bag yet, though.  It’s my favorite part, and well, I’m not ready to share just yet.  I know I’ll have to share that fun job soon, because she is just so helpful, and she really wants to do it.  Soon…

I have a devil’s food cake recipe that I love.  It’s from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins.  My copy of that cookbook is completely worn from so much use!  I love it!  I get very attached to recipes that work for me.   I think this recipe is good enough to share!  As for icing, I use my Wilton recipe with butter, cream cheese and icing sugar.  I try and use some different icing tips, but you can tell which are my favorites.

Hopefully the rain will subside soon.  Then I’ll be back in the garden!  I hope you enjoy my  rainbow of baking.

Kathleen’s Devil’s Food Cake
From The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

3 oz. good quality unsweetened chocolate
(substitute 3 tblsp cocoa powder + ½ oz butter per 1 oz unsweetened chocolate = 9 tblsp cocoa powder & 1.5 oz butter – add more butter if dry: I usually use 2.2+ oz butter)
1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 ¼ cups (packed) dark brown sugar (can substitute light, or use a combination)
3 eggs
2 ¼ cups cake flour
(Add 2 tblsp cornstarch into 1 cup of flour measure if you don’t have cake flour  – or just use regular flour)
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup boiling water
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (190 C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans – or line cup cake tins (about 24).

Place chocolate in small heavy saucepan, and melt over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Cream the butter and brown sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the melted chocolate.

Combine the cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Alternating between the two, add flour mixture and buttermilk to the chocolate mixture in 3 stages.  Then slowly stir in the boiling water and vanilla.

Pour the batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (30 minutes for cake – start with 10 minutes for muffins).

Remove the pans from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes.  Then invert the pans over wire racks.

Cream Cheese Icing:
From The Wilton School: Decorating Cakes book.

½ cup (4 oz) butter
8 oz cream cheese, softened (room temp)
4 cups (approx 1 lb) confectioners’ sugar
1 tblsp milk

In medium mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth, add sugar and milk. Beat on high speed until smooth (30 – 60 sec). Use this thicker consistency for piping borders.  (I use about 6 cups of sugar to make the icing thick for piping.)

The first color of the rainbow: Red.  Victoria Sponge with Raspberries.



Orange iced sugar cookies.

Next color of the rainbow: Yellow.

These green cupcakes were a bit of a fun experiment.

Pretty Blue.

I just learned how to do two colors for these! Very simply, you put the two colors next to each other in the icing bag.

Purple rose flowers for my daughter’s birthday.

Another two color experiment.

The white cake is my first attempt at a rose cake.  I first found this type of cake on I am baker’s blog.   Wow!  I have to admit that I was happy with my cake, tons of mistakes and all.

This chocolate cake is Nigella Lawson’s  very simple recipe, and very delicious tasting.

I just love this color blue!

And that is the end of my baking rainbow! 🙂

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with Guinness Stew.

Back home, in America, everyone is Irish at this time of year!  St. Patrick’s Day is a fun time, with fabulous parades, music and parties with friends.  Where we lived in Syracuse, New York, the parade was three hours long!   We loved seeing the Irish dancers, the pipe bands, the fire trucks, the firemen and policemen. When we moved here four years ago, we experienced some culture shock when we first attended our local parade and it was over within an hour and there were no Irish dancers!!!  We did, of course, still have fun!  It was just a different experience than we were used to.  Instead of Irish dancers, there were hip-hop dancers, and there were scouts, and tractors, and local theater groups.  Without a doubt, everyone enjoyed themselves!

Our Irish connections are a bit closer since I married a man from Dundalk.  “Authentic Irish” we like to joke.  We met in Dublin while I was in a “study abroad” program in college. It’s been quite an experience!  The Irish and the Americans are really two different cultures.  We lived in America for ten years, and during that time I would have been conscious of how things were just that little bit different for him.  We’re now living in Ireland, and thankfully he is aware of how different things are for me!  It’s necessary to have some cultural sensitivity, especially in our relationship.  I’m thankful for friends who appreciate that as an American  I think a wee bit differently than the Irish.  (I expect quite a few of my friends to be smiling to themselves right now!)

My husband has always enjoyed Irish cooking, even more so while living abroad.  One of the  first cook books he bought was Darina Allen’s Irish Traditional Cooking.  This has become one of my favorite cookbooks for traditional Irish cooking.  Beef & Guinness Stew is one of the tried and true recipes that we love and is easy to make.

For all of my Irish, and non-Irish friends, I wish you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Beef & Guinness Stew

2 lb (900 g) lean stewing beef
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons flour
salt and freshly ground pepper and a pinch of cayenne
2 large onions (about 10 oz/285 g), coarsely chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed (optional)
2 tablespoons tomato puree, dissolved in 4 tablespoons water
1/2 pint (300 ml) Guinness
8 oz (225g) carrots, cut into chunks
sprig of thyme

Trim the meat of any fat, cut into cubes or 2 inches (5 cm) and toss them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon oil. Season the flour with salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch or two of cayenne. Toss the meat in this mixture.

Heat the remaining oil in a wide, frying pan over a high heat. Brown the meat on all sides. Add the onions, crushed garlic, and tomato puree to the pan, cover and cook gently for about 5 minutes.  Transfer the contents of the pan to a casserole, and pour some of the Guinness into the frying pan. Bring to the boil and stir to dissolve the caramelized meat juices on the pan.  Pour on to the meat with the remaining Guinness; add the carrots and the thyme. Stir, taste, and add a little more salt if necessary.  Cover with the lid of the casserole and simmer very gently until the meat is tender – 2 to 3 hours. The stew may be cooked on top of the stove or in a low oven at 150 degrees C/300 degrees F/ gas mark 2.

Scatter with lots of chopped parsley and serve with potatoes.

(Dana’s adjustments to this recipe: I used two large pinches of cayenne. I sweat the onions on their own before browning the meat.  I also used an entire small can of tomato puree (150g), and the entire pint of Guinness. I cooked my stew on the stove.)

Creole seasoned salmon, spicey black bean salsa & the company of great friends.

I really enjoy having friends over.  It’s something I don’t do nearly enough (how do I fit that in with my husband’s and the kids’ busy schedules???).  But when I do manage to make it happen, it is such a wonderful feeling!  I love connecting with my friends.

I wanted to make something special for our  friends Catherine & Paul.  It’s funny how we met them, actually.  Nearly 4 years ago, they bought the house we wanted to buy!  We are so glad they did though, because we would not have met them otherwise.  Thankfully, we ended up finding a house much closer to my husband’s work, too.  As the saying goes “it all works out”!

I started simple with an appetizer of brie wrapped in puff pastry.  This had apricot jam in the pastry which gave it an extra (lovely) flavor.  I turned to my favorite food blog for this recipe: the gourmand mom.    I’ve tried quite a few of her recipes and they are all delicious!

The salsa & salmon recipes are from Emeril Lagasse and were perfect for something a little different, yet simple to prepare (you should note a theme here!). They had enough kick to liven dinner up, but not too much, which is always my fear when using hot spices.

The salsa was my favorite!  The fresh lime juice, fresh cilantro (called coriander in Ireland), and the jalapeno just made the taste perfect for me.

These two recipes I found on the site.  They were super easy and super delicious.  I hope you get the chance to enjoy some special time with friends!




  • 4 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups cooked corn kernels, cut from the cob
  • 1 red  or yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely minced
  • 1/2 bunch scallions, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (coriander)
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 (6 ounce) salmon fillet pieces
  • 1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil


In a large bowl combine first 9 ingredients and stir to mix well. Season the black bean relish with salt and pepper, and set aside at least 1/2 hour before serving with salmon. Finish the black bean relish with the chopped cilantro.

Season salmon steaks with salt and pepper and dust with Essence.

Heat 1 large or 2 small skillets over high heat, add oil and sear salmon 2 to 3 minutes on each side for medium rare. Serve with the black bean relish.  (We baked the salmon in the oven – it’s just our preferred way of cooking it.)

Essence (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning):

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Recipe from New New Orleans Cooking, by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.

Simple pork & ginger recipe.

One thing I love about Ireland is shopping at the local butcher.  There are two that I always shop at; one in our village (Gus Kelly), and one in town (Tony Kieran in Dundalk).  I’m a frugal kinda gal, but I just like having the butcher there for us. They are great butchers, and I like their team.  It’s a personal thing.

On Thursdays we have morning swimming from 6:30 A.M. to 8:00 A.M, which means a 5:00 A.M. start to our day.  By dinner time, I want something quick and easy.  Tonight’s dinner was just that.

I used coconut oil with soy sauce to brown the cubed  pork.  Then I shaved some ginger, that I had in the freezer, and added it with garlic to the pork.


In no time I had mashed potatoes, broccoli & pork for dinner.  Glad  to say that everyone was happy!

Happy home-made dinner to you, too!

Quinoa in the Morning: Pack a Punch for Breakfast.

Quinoa, pronounced Keen-wah, is good for you.  Plain and simple.  I only discovered it a few years ago,  and  I was intrigued.  I want to eat healthy foods, so I  checked on-line and found a great site for lots of health information about quinoa. is the site.  They have everything you want to know and more.  For me, I found it interesting to learn that quinoa is commonly considered a grain, but is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard.  It’s high in protein, and the protein it supplies is complete protein.  This means  that it includes all nine essential amino acids.  That was enough for me, I wanted to try this super food.

Breakfast is where I’ve worked it into my routine.  I eat a seriously substantial breakfast!  I tend to like things sweet, so I use maple syrup. I like it for it’s taste, and the fact that  it is a natural sweetener.  Quinoa is easy to make. Boil one cup of dry quinoa with two cups of water for about 10 minutes (until the water is absorbed).  Unless your quinoa says otherwise, you have to rinse it.  I find it easier to cook it first and then rinse.  I cook it once a week (about one cup), and then take what I need everyday.  For my breakfast  I use 3 heaping tablespoons of quinoa, (I heat it in the microwave), and add about 1/2 cup of Glenisk Greek Style yogurt, two teaspoons of Linwoods Milled flaxseed wtih cocoa & berries, a tablespoon of pure maple syrup, and a few tablespoons of my homemade maple granola (see my previous post on making granola ). Since I’m going for that power punch in the morning, it’s nice to know that milled flaxseed is a good source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids.  I like breakfast!  Have fun with this!

Dana’s Quinoa Pack a Punch for Breakfast recipe:

  • 3 tablespoons cooked & rinsed quinoa
  • 1/2 cup Greek Style yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons milled flaxseed (any variety)
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup granola

Dinner … What’s cookin’? Lentils, vegetables & whole grain basmati rice.

Dinner.  We eat  it every single day.  It’s not a surprise when the time for dinner rolls around again.  Kids, especially, want to eat.  Yet sometimes dinner time just seems to sneaks up on me and then I have no idea what we’ll be eating.  Yikes. This surprise feeling happens way more than I’d like to believe!  Today wasn’t so bad.  I had a general idea of what food I wanted to try and throw together. But honestly,  I do somewhat enjoy the  challenge of seeing  if I can come up with something interesting, healthy, and that the kids will eat – all  with no planning!  Sticking with my healthy theme, I wanted lentils and whole grain basmati rice.  To start things off with the vegetables, I used coconut oil and added  onions, celery, yellow peppers, one hot red chili pepper, and spinach.  Spices included a teaspoon each of turmeric, coriander & cumin, some cinnamon, and garlic.  Finally, I added full cream.  It smelled pretty good, so  I served  the vegetables on the rice with a dallup of whole fat Greek Style yogurt on top.   Phew! Finished just in time to eat and get the kids to their Irish dancing class!

Mom in the Kitchen. Making Granola.

It’s my favorite room in the house: my kitchen.  I really enjoy cooking, and baking, and eating!  I try to maintain a healthy balance with what we eat.  Really, I do try.  Sometimes my kids like it, and sometimes they wish I’d be more like their friends’ moms and not care so much!  Like I said, I’m trying to get that balance right.

I think granola is a nice healthy snack food.  There is a wonderful restaurant in Ithaca, NY called the Moosewood.  The last time I was there, a few years ago, I was so taken aback by our experience that  I bought their “New Classics” cookbook (and even had it signed!).  They have a Maple Nut Granola recipe that is just too easy not to make.  Variations are a snap, too.   I really like to eat this granola with Organic Greek Style Yogurt from Glenisk.  I have to write a small note about Glenisk.  They are a company that I love to support by eating their products!  An Irish, family run, all organic company in County Offaly.  You just feel good eating their food!  I buy their organic yogurts – Greek Style for me, and fruit for the kids.  There, that’s the end of my plug for Organic!   I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Maple Nut Granola from Moosewood Restaurant’s New Classics cookbook:

4 & 1/2 cups medium-cut organic rolled oats
1/4 cup oat bran
1/2 cup sunflower seed
1/4 cup hulled sesame seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup blanched and sliced almonds
1/4 cup whole toasted cashews*
1/4 cup coarsely chopped Brazil nuts
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons barley malt or unsulphured molasses
*toast cashews in a single layer on an unoiled baking tray at 350 degrees F for 5 to 10 minues until fragrant and golden brown.

I made mine using cashews, pecans, and coconut – in exchange of the nuts listed above.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 177 degrees C. Lightly oil a baking pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, oat bran, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, cinnamon, and the nuts. In a small bowl, combine the vegetable oil, maple syrup, and barley malt or molasses (I used molasses). Stir the maple mixture into the oat mixture and toss well to coat thoroughly. Spread the granola evenly on the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes; stir at 5 minute intervals to ensure uniform baking, until golden brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack. When completely cool, place in an airtight container for storage. Will keep for 7 to 10 days.