Archive for February, 2010

Philosophical interlude

I am not a professional blogger.  When I started this blog I wasn’t really sure what my posts would be about, or how often I would post, or how the posts would fit together.  The name of my blog, Knitting a Life, seemed like a good idea at the time; among other things, I am a knitter, and I had a hard time imagining that any blog I authored wouldn’t have some knitting in it somewhere.

To tell you the truth, once I came up with a title for this blog I didn’t worry about it much.  Until a friend told me that he didn’t read my blog because it was about knitting.

That stopped me.  I tried to explain to him that my blog is NOT about knitting, but he was convinced that it was and that he would never read it as a result.

Of course, knowing that one person isn’t reading my blog won’t make me stop writing it.  If I worried a lot about who was reading these posts I would do things a lot differently than I do.  My friend’s comment did make me think about what I mean by “Knitting a Life.”  Not necessarily what I meant when I started this project, but what it has come to mean over the few months I have been working on it.

What is this blog about?  One way to answer that is to look at what I post about.  Knitting, sometimes, but also food and family,

travel and teaching, places and passions.

Is this blog about knitting?  I guess some people would say that, since there have been posts about my knitting projects and about yarn.  I don’t think of it that way, though; I think this blog is about knitting a life, mine.

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Making granola at home

I have to be honest.  This didn’t begin as a post about granola.  In fact, I was searching for a recipe for healthy, home-made granola bars.  The crunchy kind.

After a long search I found a recipe that looked promising in the Baking Illustrated cookbook, another source that I frequently turn to when looking for baking ideas.  After reading the recipe, of course I felt the need to make some changes.

I started by substituting some Bob’s Red Mill Muesli cereal for some of oats called for in the original recipe.  Mixing this with the oats prior to toasting them added a few more grains and, I hoped, some extra nutrition and flavor.

While the grains were toasting, I heated maple syrup (which I used instead of the honey the original recipe listed) with brown sugar

and chopped some walnuts.

At the last minute, I also added some wheat germ as I mixed the toasted grains with the maple-brown sugar syrup and nuts.  The mixture was nice and sticky as it went into the oven for the final baking.

I’m not sure if the maple syrup-for-honey substitution was the cause, or if I just didn’t press the mixture into the pan firmly enough

but I ended up with wonderful, crunchy, maple-walnut granola instead of granola bars.  Not what I had been aiming for, but incredibly good all the same.  I’ll definitely be making it again soon.

I’m going to get some milk and eat some right now!

Maple-Walnut Granola

5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Muesli Cereal
½ cup canola oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups whole walnuts
¾ cup maple syrup
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup toasted wheat germ

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line an 18 x 12 inch rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Combine the oats, Muesli cereal, canola oil and salt in a large bowl and mix until oats and cereal are evenly coated.

Spread the mixture into an even layer on the baking sheet (reserve the bowl for later) and bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until the oats are pale gold in color and smell toasty, about 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and lower the heat to 300 degrees F.

While the oats are toasting, place the nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped (about 10 1 second pulses). Remove ½ of the nuts and continue to process the remaining nuts until finely ground.  Mix the coarse and fine nuts together in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine the maple syrup and the brown sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until the brown sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla and set aside.

Combine the toasted oats with the nuts, wheat germ and maple syrup mixture and stir until everything is evenly coated.

Pour the mixture into the rimmed baking sheet and spread evenly.

Bake until golden, about 45 – 50 minutes.

Cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.

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