Archive for ‘Breakfast’

April 25, 2012

Variations on a Theme: Homemade Granola

 

On camping trips, our menu varied, but my mom would always pack three camping staples in the cooler: chili con carne for our first dinner at camp (who wants to cook on the first night when there’s so much set-up to do and so much excitement to be had in the great outdoors?), a 2-pound block of Tillamook cheddar cheese with Dad’s bread, and homemade granola.  Nowhere do those food taste better than on a campground.  Mom mostly only made this granola when we went camping, rarely anytime else.  I’ve been breaking my cream of wheat habit and eating this granola for breakfast these days, because the whole grains and dried fruits fill me up so I can last until lunchtime.

The recipe is originally from the Menonite cookbook “More with Less,” but my mom and I have both adapted it for our liking. And that’s the great thing about this recipe: its endless variations. I mix it up a little each time I make it, but the base always stays the same: oats, honey, oil.  It’s easily scalable, so feel free to double or triple the recipe (if you have a convection oven and multiple large cookie sheets, you can make up to three batches of this at once!).

The only tricky thing is keeping track of the cooking time. You might think that a minute here or there doesn’t count, but trust our experience here: it counts. Keep a timer, and don’t wander too far from the oven when the granola is baking. And lastly, don’t skip a stir, it’s necessary to make sure everything is coated and bakes evenly.

Now go get creative, and let me know what you come up with! And as camping season gears up, remember to pack this easy breakfast along with your sunscreen.

 

Homemade Chewy Granola
Yield: 6-7 cups (depending on added ingredients)
Time: 20 minutes, including prep and baking time

Note: I’ve broken down the ingredients by round that they get added to the baking process.  This will help for when you choose variations. The only ingredients you have to have are the oats, honey, and oil – and are marked with asterisks.  Otherwise, feel free to mix things up!  If you want a crunchier granola, use less honey (but not less than 1/2 cup)

1st Round
6 cups whole rolled oats*
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seeds (if seeds are already toasted, add in 2nd Round)
1/2 cup walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, or nut/seed of your choice (if nuts are already toasted, add in 2nd Round)

2nd Round
2/3 cup honey*
2/3 cup vegetable oil*

Last Round
1/2 cup dry fruit (currants, dates, raisins, apricots, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, go wild – but not too wild, I usually only put one of these in at a time)

*Required ingredients

Baking Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper (important: even if your cookie sheet is non-stick, this stuff sticks and you’ll thank me later for telling you about the parchment paper).

Mix 1st round ingredients together and bake on lined cookie sheet for 10 minutes.

Take out, add 2nd round ingredients, stir to coat evenly. Bake again for 5 minutes.

Take out, stir ingredients, and bake again for 4 minutes.

Take out, stir ingredients, add Last Round ingredients, and bake for 3 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool. Enjoy!

Suggested nut/fruit combinations: walnut & currant (pictured), pecan & date, almond & apricot, hazelnut & cherry

 

October 26, 2011

On Grießbrei and Cream of Wheat

This post originally launched April 18, 2008. I bring it back today because we’re going back into fall, but also because I finally have a recipe to share with you.  See the notes below, and enjoy!  This breakfast is perfect as the weather cools, and a great alternative to oatmeal.  

Cream of Wheat or Grießbrei?

I go through stages of preferred breakfast foods. Last year, in Radeberg, I ate cream of wheat (Ger. Grießbrei) every day for breakfast. I’ve never had a recipe for it. It’s the first thing I learned to make on the stove. In kindergarten I spent half days at school, and for lunch my mom and I would cook a pot of cream of wheat, as even with sugar and cinnamon it’s considered a verifiable lunch food in Germany. I remember my mother teaching me to stir constantly and all over the bottom of the pot to prevent anything from burning. It was the first culinary technique I mastered, and I had it down pat before I was six.

April 18, 2008

The Writer’s Notepad

This week’s Writer’s Notepad developed out of an in-class writing assignment, in which we had to describe in detail a food we eat every day. I’ve adapted it to make it more interesting for the blog, and given a bit of background information I found searching the web.

Cream of Wheat or Grießbrei?

I go through stages of preferred breakfast foods. Last year, in Radeberg, I ate cream of wheat (Ger. Grießbrei) every day for breakfast. I’ve never had a recipe for it. It’s the first thing I learned to make on the stove. In kindergarten I spent half days at school, and for lunch my mom and I would cook a pot of cream of wheat, as even with sugar and cinnamon it’s considered a verifiable lunch food in Germany. I remember my mother teaching me to stir constantly and all over the bottom of the pot to prevent anything from burning. It was the first culinary technique I mastered, and I had it down pat before I was six.

February 22, 2007

Polenta Breakfast Twist

Polenta for breakfast? I hadn’t thought of it that way before – I’d always had it for dinner with tomato sauce and parmesan. Nevetheless, Melissa Clark’s article in last week’s New York Times Dining and Wine section (now unfortunately in Times Select, but titled “A Morning Meal Begs to Stay Up Late”) spurred some enthusiasm. While her meal was still of the dinner variety, she was selling it as breakfast for dinner. David will tell you I’m not a breakfast for dinner person (except with my mom’s creamy leek potatoes and an egg with salad) so I decided to just have the breakfast – for breakfast.

It was breaking the fast for my anti-jet-lag diet and beginning a feasting day, so it was perfect: cooked polenta with thick strips of bacon and a sunny-side up egg. I hadn’t had bacon strips since I’d arrived in Germany – the vocabulary word I knew for it was not the right one, and so when I ordered Speck at my butcher shop, they pointed to a slab of pork fat. Apparently, in Radeberg at least, bacon is Räucherfleisch (transl.: smoked meat). I woke up extra early in the morning to prepare the dish, though it only took twenty minutes – just about the same time it takes me to prepare my regular breakfast of cream of wheat. After frying the bacon I removed most of the bacon fat and fried the egg in the same pan (I know, you cholesterol people are saying “Stop! Don’t!” but I just told you, I hardly ever have bacon, so once in a while, this is acceptable procedure). The flavors were amazing. Instead of only topping the polenta with parmesan cheese, I added a good quarter cup to the mixture when it was still on the stove. The people who invented the anti-jet-lag diet had been correct: starting my day with proteins really did give me a lot of energy, and I wasn’t hungry again until lunchtime. It’s the perfect Italian twist to an American breakfast: instead of potatoes with your bacon and eggs, save some time and mix things up a bit to have some corn polenta.

Polenta, Egg, and Bacon Breakfast

4 1/2cups broth or water
1 1/2cups polenta (not quick-cooking), coarse corn meal or corn grits
1 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste
1 1-ounce chunk or 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 large eggs
8 (thick) slices of bacon

Boil the water and stir in the polenta and simmer. You don’t have to stir constantly, but Clark cautions against burns from molten polenta bubbles. Stir in butter, pepper, and cheese. In a separate pan fry the bacon until desired crispness, remove the bacon and keep warm in oven. Fry the eggs (in your choice of olive oil, or some of the bacon fat), turn them over as you are walking with the pan to the table. This provides a very slightly cooked top to the egg, but maintains the oozing yellows which will provide a creamy texture to the polenta. Clark suggests serving this with sauteed garlic swiss chard, though spinach would be a good side dish and source of vitamins and minerals as well.

Yield: 4 servings.

*recipe ingredients and instructions adapted from Melissa Clark’s recipe titled “Buttery Polenta with Parmesan and Olive Oil Fried Eggs”