Hang on While I Get My Birkenstocks…

I am not in this picture

It’s really not going out on a limb to suggest that I am not what you could call a “hippie” type of person.  I don’t think we could even dabble with “bohemian.”  That being said, I did feel a little…um…hippie-ish–dare I say liberal? no, that’s going too far–yesterday.   I didn’t vote on the other side of the aisle, nor did I march for anything.  And truth be told, I don’t even own Birkenstocks (it seems like such a lot of money for such ugly shoes).  No, what I did was, I made granola!    It’s a  fun, easy project that yields a healthy-ish breakfast for days to come.  Yesterday I had it with just milk, then today I had it with yogurt, both of which were delicious. Feel free to play around and add or substitute nuts or seeds or dried fruits to your liking–just keep the quantities about the same, and you should be fine.  So here’s the recipe–and hey, peace, man.

Vacaville Housewife Granola

3 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup bran flakes

1 cup chopped pecans

3/4 cup chopped almonds

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

scant 1/2 tsp. salt

4 Tbl. canola oil

2 1/2 Tbl. maple syrup

1/4 cup corn syrup

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbl. water

1 1/2 cups dried mixed fruit (I used cranberries, raisins, and sultanas–you could use apricots, or dates, or…)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine the oats, bran flakes, nuts, cinnamon, and salt.  In a small bowl, combine the oil, maple syrup, corn syrup, vanilla, and water and whisk to combine.  Pour the oil mixture over the oat mixture and stir well until combined.  Spread granola evenly on a large baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to be sure it toasts evenly, until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan.  Stir in the dried fruits.  Store in an airtight container. Keeps at room temperature for one to two weeks.   Makes about 8 cups.

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Quick Springtime Dinner (or…Easter brunch?)

Baby lemons

So pretty here in Vacaville, this time of year.  “Fecund” I think would be a good way to describe it.  My lemon tree is covered in

Future figs

blossoms, and the fig tree is just all a-dither.  It’s lovely.  But I digress.

Now, regardless of the eating habits of real men, I love quiche.  I think most people do.  It’s eggy, it’s bacony, it’s delicious!  This is my favorite, go-to quiche recipe.  Very easy, perfect for dinner or even Easter brunch.  The other night we had it with a salad with Shallot Vinaigrette, and for dessert we had madeleines and strawberries.  Actually, our whole dinner menu would work for Easter Sunday.  On a weeknight I use Pillsbury All-Ready Piecrusts (gasp!), but for Easter you could trot out your skills and make piecrust from scratch.  Or not.  The vinaigrette I whip up in the food processor, the strawberries get quickly cut up and left to macerate in sugar, and the madeleines just make a tiny batch, so they’re quick.  Okay, here we go.

Vinaigrette on deck

Shallot Vinaigrette

1 shallot, quartered

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 Tbl. sherry vinegar

several sprigs Italian parsley

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 cup oil (olive, avocado, canola, walnut–whatever you feel like)

Place shallots, mustard, vinegar, parsley, salt, and pepper in bowl of food processor and pulse to combine.  With lid on and machine running, slowly pour in the oil through the hole in the lid.  Blend until smooth and emulsified. Pour over spring greens and toss. Done!

Cheese, Bacon, and Onion Quiche

Single crust pastry

6 slices bacon, cut into 2″ pieces

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. white pepper

Line 9″ pie pan (spray pie pan with Pam–makes life so much easier) with pastry.  Cook bacon until crisp.  Drain, reserving drippings, and place in pie shell.  Saute onion in bacon fat until lightly browned.  Drain off fat.  In bowl stir together eggs, milk, cream, cheese, salt and pepper.  Add onions and stir to combine.  Pour mixture over bacon in pastry-lined pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Serves 4-6

Strawberries

Cut a pound of strawberries into chunks and place in bowl.  Sprinkle with 2 or 3 tablespoons sugar and stir to combine.  Leave at room  temperature for an hour or so.

Madeleines

Now, this was the first time I’d ever made these.  I just got a madeleine pan, so I turned to Dorie Greenspan‘s Paris Sweets for a recipe.

3/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 large eggs at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

pinch salt (I added that myself–none in original recipe)

grated zest of one lemon

2 tsp. vanilla

5 Tbl. butter, melted and cooled (recipe calls for unsalted–I used salted)

Maybe I'll bake them a bit longer next time...

Sift together flour and baking powder and set aside.  Using a mixer with whisk attachment, beat eggs and sugar on med-high speed until they thicken and lighten, 2 to 4 minutes.  Beat in zest and vanilla.  By hand, fold in dry ingredients, followed by cooled melted butter.  Cover batter in bowl  with plastic wrap placed directly on dough to make airtight seal. Chill for at least three hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Generously grease and flour your madeleine pan, even if it’s non-stick.  Put it on a cookie sheet for easy transport.

Divide the batter among the molds, filling each one almost to the top.  Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, until puffed and golden and spring back when touched.  Remove from pan by rapping pan against counter and tipping them out of the pan, or by running a knife around the edges of the cookies.  Cool cookies on a rack.  Makes 12

Happy Easter brunch, or just Happy Tuesday night dinner!

The green, green grass of home

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