When I look back on my childhood it falls somewhere between RObert McCloskey’s “One Morning in Maine” and “Blueberries For Sal”. I know that it isn’t quite true (I didn’t grow up on the water, but I did grow up slightly wild in a large blueberry field). So this past week when I went home to Maine to visit my family and friends I was responsible. And tried to cram in as much Downeast Maine as possible in the five days I was there. There was a whole bunch of visiting. There was a farm (where I went pretty much every day), there was a beach adventure, lobster chowder, playing in a sand pile with a seven year old, collecting chicken and turkey eggs, expanding my mustard collection, and eating decadent chocolate. There was a rogue gosling who kept escaping his pen and helping to settle in chicks (so soft, so yellow, so… cheepy). It was a great visit home to see my family and smell the ocean on the air. The tang of salt and green things that always comes with going home is a joy. So here are some of my favorite shots of the week. Some from my phone, some from my camera; all of home.
This is a celebratory post. It is it my hundredth post here – I feel like it should have shown up sooner and there should be a greater fanfare, but I’ve been busy. I worked really hard and threw an epic beer fest with some absolutely fantastic people, I started a new job (more on that later), and I’ve just been sort of lazy. I know I’m not supposed to admit that here – where I show you pretty pictures of food and make you think I eat like that all the time – but I don’t. Most nights I eat pasta with butter and Parmesan on it or instant mac and cheese. I have plenty of knowledge but a low threshold for motivation. Occasionally that comes out here. This post is about the awesome though, this is a celebration of this little blog – this corner of the internet I have claimed as mine and proudly declared to be KATHY CAN COOK. I’ve covered it in 8-bit sprites, I’ve met some amazing people, and I’ve eaten SO.MUCH.GOOD.FOOD.
This is not me signing off – please don’t think that as I wax nostalgic about how great keeping this blog has been. I’m not giving up on it, at least not yet, I’m not even taking a break. I’m just sharing how loved this makes me feel – and how great it is to have made friends, actual friends, through blogging. That’s what this recipe is – new to me comfort food that is a little bit of home and a whole bunch of love. I made it with my big sister on a Monday afternoon that she’d taken off to hang out with my kid brother and I. It was a perfect leisure activity.
This granola is made with rolled oats sourced from Aurora Mills in Maine, and alone they are great and nutty oats – in granola they have just the right flavor and give while still being chewy and filling. This is not-too sweet granola either, it’s maple-y without being in your face and it holds its own against the tang of Greek yogurt.
I say this granola is home because it is. I feel a special connection to pretty much anything sourced from Maine and even now, when I don’t live in Maine anymore I still refer to myself as a “Maine kid” it gives me a sense of identity and place. I love it – so this granola is a perfect example of blogging for me – it’s new, my first homemade granola (win) paired with some old (a few Maine oats to make me feel like I’m home).
Note: This recipe is loosely based on one from the Cooks Illustrated Cookbook in that I looked at that cookbook for ideas of what ratios to use and what temperature to cook my granola at. Please consider this a broad guideline to create your own granola recipe though, it’s totally adjustable I used the flavors and textures I really liked when I made this, as such you should adjust in your own way. It does make a lot of granola though, so be prepared to share!
- 3 1/2 Cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats – small batch rolled oats will be nuttier and more flavorful
- 2/3 cup Pepitas, hulled pumpkin seeds
- 1/3 cup sesame seeds. raw
- 1/3 cup flax seeds
- 2/3 cup nuts (I used pecans and they were AWESOME)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp salt (I use coarse kosher, but go with your preference)
- 1/3 cup high heat oil (I used peanut, but you can use safflower, sunflower or whatever else too)
- 2/3 cup Real Maple Syrup (The corn syrup stuff will not work here)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup Honey (the honey/maple syrup ratio is really forgiving and can be modified to what you have)
- 1/2 cup toasted coconut
- 1 1/2 cup dried fruit (I used cranberries, tart cherries, and candied ginger)
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees farenheit.
- In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients (oats, nuts, and seeds) and mix until evenly distributed.
- In a small pan combine the oil, honey, vanilla, and syrup. Heat them over low heat until the liquids are fluid and easily mixed.
- Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and mix until everything is evenly coated
- Put the granola in a large pan (I use my turkey roaster) and spread it out evenly so it is an even layer (mine was about 3/4 inch thick).
- Toast the granola in the oven for about an hour – stirring every 10 to 15 mins to prevent large clumping. THe granola will be golden brown and fragrant when it is done.
- Allow the granola to cool completely, for at least an hour.
- Mix the toasted coconut and dried fruit into the toasted granola.
- Eat over your favorite yogurt or by the handful!
My mom and I drove the three miles over to Tide Mill on Thanksgiving morning to meet Hailey, the oldest of Carly and Aaron’s children (she’s ten) making ice cream while Carly was putting her turkey in the oven. Carly and I chatted for a bit while my mom and Henry (the youngest at five years old) churned the ice cream and Paige (eight) bounced around creating a face on a red cabbage.
Then my mom brought me around the farm a bit. I met Llary the Llama,
many adorable piglets covered in spots,
and calves of all ages, from newborns (one to three weeks old and soso soft)
to some that were three months old!
They were all so cute, I couldn’t stop taking their pictures!
Tide Mill farm raises their own pigs, cows, chickens, and turkeys. The farm also grows crops, hosts a small farm stand on Saturdays in the summer, and sells seedlings at the Whiting Village store at the end of May. They sell raw organic milk on the farm and you can buy their milk pasteurized in Maine as part of the Maine’s Own Organic Milk (MOOMilk) project. Also if you are in need of a wreath for your holiday season, why not check theirs out? If you want to learn more about them, check out the website and email them, they’re always willing to answer questions and want to help you learn more about what they do!
A huge thanks to Carly, Aaron, and the rest of the Bell family for letting me come wander and also to my mom for acting as tour guide! It was great to meet the calves, piglets, and Llary; and even better to use the produce in some of our Thanksgiving dishes! I can’t wait to come back next summer and see everything alive and green!
(Bell family photo courtesy of Tide Mill Organic Farm’s own site)