Thursday, May 22, 2008

how to make something scrumptious out of unassuming ingredients hanging out in your pantry

With the vague sense that I will be moving soon (never mind that I still don't know where, or even when, exactly), and that it will be easier to transport less stuff than what I have now, I have been trying to get rid of things that I don't need. I have three garbage bags full of clothes and shoes ready to go to D.I., I have been selling some things on ebay (I could make a pretty good living at that... does ebay offer medical and dental benefits?), I have taken note of a few books that I think that I can part with, and I'm sure there are plenty of knick-knacks and whatzits that I can find new homes for.

You might think that I have only considered the stuff in my closet and on my bookshelves. But then you would be underestimating my extremely developed sense of and aversion to waste of any kind. Chalk it up to my being an economist's daughter: it could be environmental or genetic, or both. Anyway, I have lately been thinking that I should make good use of the food that I have in my cupboards, since I won't really want to take cans of chicken broth or bags of flour with me when I move, and I definitely would hate to let them go to waste.

A few weeks ago, I found in my cupboard a Costco-sized container of couscous, a can of chickpeas, and a can of tomatoes, so I looked around the Food Network's website (their recipe search is great) and I decided to make this. I didn't have all the vegetables and I had to be a bit creative with the spices, but it turned out very yummy and boy does it smell heavenly while it's cooking.

Then, a couple of days ago, I was thinking about the tub of plain yogurt in the fridge (we used only half of it to make tzatziki to go with Vanessa's sundried-tomato-couscous-stuffed chicken) and then I spotted (for at least the hundredth time) a huge can of Quaker oats not doing any good just sitting in my cupboard. And I thought, granola!

I turned again to the Food Network's website, and what I ended up making was a sort of variation on a combination of elements of these three recipes. Mmm it's good. Because I like you, I'll share my recipe with you:
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
3/4 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
dash of ground nutmeg
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dried pineapple chunks, torn into smaller pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, mix together oats, coconut, almonds, pecans, and pistachios. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt together the butter and honey. Pour butter-honey mixture over oat mixture and add cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is evenly coated. Spread on a jelly roll pan and bake for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until evenly toasted to a nice golden brown. Let cool, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking to the pan. Mix in dried cranberries and dried pineapple. Enjoy on its own, or mix with plain or flavored yogurt. Yum!
It turns out I already had a bag of coconut, since I had bought two last year for a coconut custard pie and only used one. My little culinary experiment also helped me get almost to the bottom of the jar of delicious honey that I bought last summer at the Fiddle Creek fruit stand in Idaho, though it didn't make much of a dent in the five-pound bag of pistachios that I bought at Costco who knows when.

So. Here's to yummy granola and culinary experimentation and efficiency in personal foodstuffs management. The end.


Nocturne said...

mmmm, sounds yummy. you'll have to help me get rid of all my food stuff when you get here. like my 50 lbs bag of flour, don't worry, we use alot of flour and it should be low by the time you get here. speaking of which, i think i'll go make biscuits, or maybe corn bread...mmmm

rantipoler said...

Wow, I am seriously impressed. I still have my honey from the roadside stand, too. It's SUCH good stuff!

Lynda said...

Portland is my first choice!

emily said...

Hmm, we could use a lot of flour making cinnamon rolls...

And yes, it is good honey. It's those smartiepants Harvard honey bees, you know. I still have that pie filling that I bought there, too.

Hmm, we could use a lot of flour making pie crusts...

Portland, huh? I'd love to go if I got a job there. Heck, I'll go pretty much anywhere if they'll give me a decent job. I'm almost to the point of considering Texas as an option.