Sunday, February 24, 2008

the best granola

This is my absolute favorite store-bought granola. The secret ingredient is cocoa nibs. They aren't sweet but impart a subtle chocolate flavor. That mixed with the hazelnuts... mmmm.

The ingredients are: Organic Oats, Organic Coconut, Organic Maple Syrup, Organic Safflower Oil, Organic Ground Flaxseed, Walnuts, Marshall's Farm Honey, Hazelnuts, Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Organic Sesame Seeds and Scharffen Berger Cocoa Nibs. It is incredibly high in fiber and very good for you!

It isn't the cheapest granola ever and you can't find it just anywhere but it is worth the effort. I find it at Whole Foods and the small store by my house, Other Avenues. Here is a link to Divinely D'lish's website which has just changed its name to 18 rabbits. Since they are switching to this new packaging, it may be more difficult to find for a little while.

Friday, February 22, 2008


I like strawberries.

Not strawberry flavored anything. No candy, ice cream, yogurt, or whatever... Just real, red, ripe, juicy, flavorful strawberries. No watery, pink and white out of season imposters. I could eat bowls and bowls of the good ones every day.

I try to eat organic, seasonally and as local as possible so watching all these strawberries from Chile come through the markets all winter has been killing me. I've been sooo tempted but know that it wouldn't be worth it. The flavor would be bland and all the energy costs to get it to the table from half way across the world are not good. Well, a couple weeks ago I saw the first "local" berries come through. From nearby Watsonville. They weren't organic but I couldn't hold myself back! From what I understand pesticides are put into the soil the berries are grown in so you cannot merely wash the pesticides off. They are actually part of the berry. Plus, there are something like 370 pesticides legally okay for conventional strawberry farmers.

Well, hopefully we won't grow 2 extra heads or anything because I couldn't hold myself back. I quickly bought 4 pounds (yes they are still expensive but not outrageous) and I think they were gone within 2 days. I didn't even want to tell my family about them. I didn't want them to open the refrigerator and see them. I wanted them all. But, my more generous side won and we have all been enjoying strawberries frequently. In fact I bought 4 pounds on Wednesday and I am positive they will already be gone by tonight. You had better watch out when the organic berries come into the store. There won't be any left after I leave! Mmmmmm.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

scallion pancakes

We love scallion pancakes around here. In fact, even my 5 and 8 year-old boys will eat them (despite the green speckles). They aren't difficult to make but sometimes it is difficult to visualize the process so I thought I'd throw a few pictures in from when I made them this week. The salt on top combined with the taste of the sesame oil is a truly addictive combination.

1. Combine 2 cups of all-purpose flour with 1 cup of really hot tap water in a bowl and mix until a shaggy ball is formed. Rub a little toasted sesame oil on your hands and knead the dough a couple of times and then form 8 equal sized balls. Lightly coat each ball with sesame oil (to prevent them from drying out) and set out on counter for at least 30 minutes to let the dough relax.

2. Thinly slice, then roughly chop 3-4 scallions and set to the side. Heat about 1 1/2 inches of canola or peanut oil on medium- medium high heat in a wok or deep sided saute pan while you begin to form the pancakes.

3. After the dough has rested, lightly coat your hands and the work surface in sesame oil so it won't stick. Take one ball and pat it out into a flat circle about 6 inches in diameter. Sprinkle a few green onions across the surface of the dough.

4. Now roll up the "pancake" like a cigar.

5. Next you roll the cigar up like a snail shell.

6. Now press the rolled up dough flat like a pancake again- about 6 inches across. The scallions may poke through the dough a little and that's okay. Just try to be gentle so there aren't lots of holes.

7. Meanwhile the oil should have been warming up. You know it is ready when you stick the tip of a wooden chopstick in and it immediately is covered by little bubbles at the tip. Lift the pancake off the counter and gently set in the hot oil. It will shrink a little when it hits the oil. While the pancake is cooking get started on the next one. The cooking pancake will probably be ready to flip after you get the next one to "snail" stage. I use chopsticks to flip the pancakes but you can use tongs. The bottom should be golden and look mostly cooked through. The second side will take almost as long to cook. Finish getting the next pancake ready so that when you remove the first, you are ready to go. It's an assembly line. :)

8. When you take the pancake out of the oil, put it on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with coarse salt and let cool as long as you can stand it. Cut each disk into quarters (kitchen shears work great for this). Enjoy! We even eat these cold at our house if they actually make it that long.