My Goodreads quote of the day was: “It doesn’t matter what people call you unless they call you pigeon pie and eat you up.” I suppose that’s true, but it makes me wonder if Evelyn Waugh is overrated. Or perhaps overquoted?
In any case, I made an apple pie (there was a run on pigeons) for my nephew as a belated birthday treat. He was appreciative and ate greedily after smothering the lot with whipped cream from my new CO2 charged cream whipper (I ♥ Christmas presents!). My daughters and my other nephew were all enthusiastic about the dessert, and it was certainly pleasing to the eye, but never have I tasted a dryer pie. My mother is the pie baker in the family, with a sister-in-law moving up in the ranks and it’s just humiliating that I still, STILL, have multiple mishaps when I attempt pie. I tend to stick to cake, as is well documented in this venue, but this was a special request from my nephew.
Recently, I read a brief article in Good Housekeeping (I will never earn the seal, but I like the magazine) called “Baker’s Secret” by fiction writer Joyce Maynard. She writes, “The only real magic I know is this: where there is a pie, there is love.” I also know that to be true. Though I couldn’t find a text version online, you can listen to this short, sweet piece here: http://www.airsla.org/broadcasts/GoodHousekeeping131120.mp3. It’s a pleasant enough way to pass 3 minutes while you make a crust.
Speaking of crust, mine was good and that’s important, but the filling, Eaters! May I never again encounter such stingy apples. These Pink Ladies were excellent hand apples but not meant to be baked, as I found out. Instead of stewing in their own juices, they hunkered down and grumbled within the dark of the crust for the entire 50 minutes they spent in a hot oven, parsimoniously clinging to their precious apple sweat which ended up God knows where, not in the pie, I assure you. It tasted alright, but was an effort to choke down. My husband isn’t picky about pie and will eat one baked just for him and lovingly sealed in a package that reads “Hostess Brands,” and even he was looking dour as he poured a tumbler of milk as a chaser. I was disappointed, especially since the crust stars looked so fetching, and my teenage nephews had both ooed a bit over them and asked me how I made them. I dream of being asked such questions.
I served this to my family while we were taking a mini-break at the ocean. It was gorgeous – freezing, but gorgeous, and I spent time reading and walking on the beach, observing the waves and frolicsome dogs. Look! I even rode a beach cruiser! I was pleased with my meals, which were not elaborate, but satisfying. I had fun, but upon my return home I was still smarting from the apple pie experience and I craved a little small success.
Enter: homemade granola. One of my favorite vacation pastimes is enjoying a bowl of granola on a sunny porch, book in hand. On one of my walks, I met a man with an enormous sail kite. He said using it was like kiting, wind surfing (which itself is sailing and surfing) and sky-diving – all in freezing water. Yes, I see! It’s like me with my book and cereal on the porch! Finally I understood these hybridizing sporty types. Sometimes several pleasurable activities can meld into one delightful, preferably nonstrenuous, hobby.
But purchased granola, as I have learned time and time again, is too sugary. I read several boxes, trying to pick the one with the least grams of sugar but still, it was too sweet to be breakfast. I was eating it as second breakfast, but still, too sweet. I used to make my own stock and it was fun, in a nesting sort of way. Making my own granola gives me a similar homey, tucked-in feeling, in much less time. Again, fine to invest whatever amount of time you like in the kitchen, stay there all day if you like. But if you don’t like, and you want something simple to make that will be more healthful then a store-bought version, then make your own granola.
I have encountered a jillion recipes for granola and they are all variations on oats, sweetener and dried fruits/nuts. Here’s a place to begin:
Beach Granola, shells optional
3 cups of rolled oats
4, or so, Tablespoons of flax meal
1/4 cup (depends on how sweet you like it) maple syrup or honey
1/8 cup oil (rice bran or walnut work well) add more if each oat is not lightly coated
Mix all the above in a bowl and then spread out on a baking sheet, preferably with parchment paper on it for easy clean-up. You may add nuts at this point but I usually add them half-way though baking, for fear of burning. You may also add coconut. Any dried fruits are delicious in this, though they should be added after the baking process. Bake this at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, taking it out to stir at the half-way point. Allow to cool and store in the fridge in a jar. It should last about 10 days but I say don’t make it unless you plan to eat it up in a timely fashion. It makes a sweet gift; I was thrilled to my boots once when my friend Tim gave me some.
Have a bowl after you kitepaddle with your dachsudoodle, or whatever you like to do on vacation.