Tag Archives: granola

What’s Been Cooking? Maternity leave, weeks 5-6

In Germany, expecting and new mothers have the advantage of a legally protected, essentially “no work allowed” time for 6 weeks before and 8 weeks after their due dates. So now I am on Mutterschutz (maternity leave) and working my way through some cooking and baking projects to keep me from getting too stir-crazy at home and to try and stock the freezer with easy winter meals to reheat when our tiny human arrives.

You can catch up on what I made in my first two weeks off here, and in my second two weeks off here. Below, see what I’ve gotten up to in my third fortnight off, including two Thanksgiving celebrations:

Week 5

On Monday, I made one of F’s and my go-to cool-weather dinners: these sweet potato and black bean enchiladas. The recipe is flexible and forgiving, and the enchiladas are always delicious. I’ve been making them semi-regularly for years.

sweet potato & black bean enchiladas

On Tuesday, I made a variation of The Full Helping’s curried quinoa salad. I discovered this recipe a year or so ago and it has become part of our regular salad rotation. The ingredients are really flexible – this time, I left out the broccoli and used two boiled beetroots that we had in the fridge. You can adjust the curry level in the dressing and swap in or out other veggies according to your preferences. Highly recommended!

Also on Tuesday, I baked two test lactation cookies from Serious Eats. I was skeptical of the brewer’s yeast so left it out. The cookies were delicious – F liked them, too! – and I froze the rest of the dough to batch-bake as and when I am breastfeeding (hopefully) and get a cookie craving (highly likely, whether or not I’m breastfeeding!).

simple & delicious

On Thursday I used up leftover cabbage by making smitten kitchen’s roasted cabbage with walnuts and parmesan. F billed it as “really nice, and so simple!” The lemony walnut dressing and hint of parmesan lifted the cabbage to the next level.

Wednesday through Friday, I spread out preparations for our Thanksgiving-themed Kaffee und Kuchen gathering on Saturday. We planned this in lieu of a full Thanksgiving, which, given my due date, we thought was a bit too risky to shell out for an entire turkey and all its trimmings. Enter a slightly early dessert extravaganza! But you’ll have to click here to read more about it.

Week 6

black pepper beef & broccoli

For Tuesday dinner, I made these curried potatoes, lentils, and peas from The Full Helping. They were tasty but quite mild; next time, I’d up the spice levels as well as the amount of lentils. On Wednesday for lunch, F and I made a delicious black pepper beef and broccoli stir-fry, based on this NYT recipe. We served it over rice. I also made some more of my go-to granola; now the freezer is well-stocked for upcoming granola cravings.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday was Thanksgiving! There was no sign of the tiny human arriving, so we decided to prepare a mini Thanksgiving feast for just the two of us. Click here to see what we cooked.

choc nut butter oatmeal muffins

Last up for maternity leave cooking/baking: chocolate peanut butter oatmeal muffins from My Name is Yeh. I made these in a sudden burst of energy on Saturday while F was out helping friends move flats. I made a few adjustments to Molly’s recipe: spelt flour in place of the whole wheat flour; mostly almond butter + 20g peanut butter to make the right amount; dried cranberries; zartbitter (dark) chocolate chips; no coconut (didn’t have any). The muffins took 27 minutes to bake through and were thoroughly delicious! We nibbled a couple and I froze the rest for postpartum snacking needs.

That’s it for “What’s Been Cooking?” on maternity leave. Next up: have a baby – hopefully soon!


What’s Been Cooking? “First month in Münster” edition

Hello there! Long time no blog, I know. My excuse is that F and I were moving countries. After a wonderful 6.5 years in London, we decided it was time for new adventures in a smaller place with a less hectic pace of life, so we moved to Münster, Germany at the end of May. It was hard to leave our friends and communities in London but we are glad to be in Münster, where we already have a good network thanks to F’s friends from his university days.

Part of moving into a new flat in Germany required buying and installing a kitchen. No, not just the appliances – an entire kitchen. Apparently it’s a thing in Germany. Kitchens are seen as “furniture,” and most flats come unfurnished, so…no kitchens! (Or at least they aren’t a guarantee.) Once a kitchen is installed in a flat or house, if those tenants move out they can either take the kitchen with them (yes, people do that) or they can sell it to the new people moving in.

 

Anyway, designing and buying a kitchen was a new experience for both of us. They are not cheap, but ideally we’ll be in this flat for the next 5-10 years so it’s a worthy investment and we both enjoy cooking and baking. We ended up at KüchenTreff Münster and had a great experience from designing through installation. I’d recommend them if you’re in the Münster area and in the market for a kitchen.

All that was a long-winded way of getting to the point of this post: what F and I have been cooking (and baking) in our new kitchen over the past month! Here goes, in no particular order:

 

I made our favorite Käsekuchen (German cheesecake) for F’s birthday in mid-June. He returned the favor for my birthday two weeks later by making our now go-to cherry pie from Stella Parks at Serious Eats.

 

June was Spargel-Saison in northwestern Germany. Spargel is white asparagus, which I never came across until visiting western Germany and Belgium in May/June. It’s a thing, and for many – like F – it’s something to be enjoyed in multitudes for a short time every year. It tastes completely different from green asparagus – milder and sweeter, to me. Peel it, then wrap it in a foil packet with butter and salt and roast it in a 200C/400F oven for 45-60 minutes. Yum.

Back to baking, the first thing I made in our new oven was a batch of my go-to granola. Needless to say, more batches have followed.

Anita Bean’s lentil-stuffed peppers from her Vegetarian Athlete’s Cookbook made for a tasty and light dinner on a warm summery evening.

We don’t usually celebrate the Fourth of July (American Independence Day), but F wanted to have friends over for a barbecue and he asked if flag cakes are actually a thing. I wasn’t sure, but I checked smitten kitchen and – lo and behold – she had a recipe for one. A classic yellow cake base (it stayed quite moist, maybe thanks to buttermilk) is slathered with cream cheese frosting and topped with berries in the shape of the American flag. I think it’s one of the most patriotic things I’ve ever done or made… It was a hit with our German friends and I’d definitely make the cake again, with or without the flag design.

What have you been cooking recently?

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Recipe: Go-To Granola (previously known as “nutty maple granola”)

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UPDATED 28 October 2017: I recently realized that, although I’ve had two granola recipes on the blog, I actually end up making some sort of hybrid recipe every time. I was telling my mom and grandma about it recently, which made me decide I really only needed one granola recipe on the blog. Apparently I get the granola-making bug from my grandma, who has been making her own for years, thanks to the Barefoot Contessa!

All that is a long-winded way of saying I’ve rebranded my “nutty maple granola” as this “go-to granola“: the failsafe, works-every-time, crunchy deliciousness that granola ought to be. I have still not found a store-bought brand that measures up, at least by my taste.

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While this is my favorite base recipe and works great as-is, you are welcome to vary it to your tastes. In fact, I often go with whatever the pantry holds. Here are some tips and tricks that I have gleaned over a few years of granola-making:

  • I learned from the excellent smitten kitchen cookbook that an egg white is the secret to beautiful, ragged, crunchy granola clusters. Don’t skip it, unless you somehow don’t like clusters.
  • Use your favorite nut(s): use one kind, use two or even three kinds of nut to get up to the 1.5 cups required. I usually throw in whatever I happen to have around: sometimes it’s walnuts+almonds, sometimes one or the other, and on occasion it’s pecans when I’ve splurged. (Pecans are really the best, as they work so well with maple syrup.)
  • You’re welcome to use coconut oil instead of sunflower oil. Any other neutral oil would be fine, too.
  • In terms of spices, sometimes I use ginger+cinnamon and sometimes I use allspice+ginger – the latter gives the granola a lovely bit of kick.
  • I used to add dried fruit to my granola after it cooled. Now, I leave the dried fruit out and just add raisins or dried cranberries straight in when I’m ready to devour a bowl of yogurt and granola.
  • You can store your granola in a jar or other air-tight container at room temperature, but this recipe makes so much granola that I usually store some in ziplock bags in the freezer. It thaws quickly and is actually quite nice (extra crunchy) straight from the freezer!

 

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beautiful, crunchy clusters!

Go-To Granola (inspired by these two recipes and tweaked to my tastes over 4 1/2 years of making it)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups oats
  • 1.5 cups nut(s) of choice, whole or roughly chopped/crushed
  • 1.5 cups coconut flakes
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1/3 honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg white

Procedure

  • Preheat the oven (convection setting) to 300F (150C). Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  • Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • Heat the oil, honey, and maple syrup in a small saucepan until smooth.
  • Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Stir in the egg white until it has coated most of the mixture.
  • Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet and pat it into an even layer.
  • Bake the granola for 40-50′, carefully flipping after 20 minutes. If the granola doesn’t seem crispy when it comes out, don’t worry — it will firm up as it cools.
  • Cool and store or eat immediately!

Enjoy!