Crunchy Maple Granola

Sunday mornings are sacred to me. The only day of the week I don’t awake with an alarm clock, I usually get out of bed between 7 and 8 and slip on my Asics to take my four-mile walk. No need for music on these walks, I am serenaded by the symphony of meadowbirds and the crunch of me feet on the earth. My body knows this road well, so I am able to be inside my head and meditate on  reflections of the week that has passed and the week to come or some problem or situation on which I need clarity. Frequently, I will walk this road in the afternoons, but on Sunday mornings, nary a walker will I pass, save the occasional pickup truck. This early morning is for me and me alone.

Today is Sunday, March 27. The last Sunday of March, at least for another year. I’m still bundled in two layers. No need for coffee before I walk, the western wind from the Adirondacks keeps me awake. The sky is baby blue with no sight of a cloud and the sun is brilliant; I’m able to stop for a moment and drink all that I get from the sun.

March in Vermont also means maple sugaring season. Warm days and cold nights make the sap run and gets the sugar houses going. Just like the return of the Canada geese and the red-winged blackbirds, that first plink in the sap bucket is music to everyone’s ears; it means the end of another winter and the start of spring.

On today’s walk, I thought about what I could make with maple syrup to celebrate this glorious season. This granola recipe is so easy, throw everything into a bowl, mix, and stir mid-way. Plus, you have the added comfort that you know exactly what is going into it; so many granolas on the market are filled with added sugar and other not-so-healthy ingredients. I’m giving you the original recipe, although I usually halve it for just two. Another note, this recipe originated with my aunt, who gave it to my mom, who gave it to me, so its origins are unknown, although I have seen similar recipes through the years. And it is reflective of the 1970s, dry milk is added, probably for an additional protein. Although I’ve made it without the dry milk, I prefer it included. This is delicious added to yogurt or just in a bowl with a little milk.

Crunchy Maple Granola
Bake at 300 degrees for 40 minutes or until done.

In a large bowl, mix:

  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup dry milk
  • 2 cups almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, or any combination
  • 1 cup coconut or sunflower seeds

Add to dry ingredients:

  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup maple syrup or honey (both are equally delicious and add their own special flavor)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Vanilla, to taste

Springtime(?) Matzo Ball Soup

Anyone who knows me well, knows my perfect comfort food is chicken. Almost every Sunday, I roast up a whole bird or bone-in breasts with enough leftovers for the coming week for sandwiches and salads. Boiling the carcass makes for a rich, meaty broth. So when the weather outside turned frightful in early March, I decided with some sad vegetables staring at me from the refrigerator bin and some matzo meal in the cupboard, that it was a perfect time to make some matzo ball soup for lunch. You can use any variation of vegetables you like, I happened to have a half dead turnip leftover. Served with an orange and a couple of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies made a perfect lunch and gave enough stamina to continue shoveling through the afternoon!

Springtime (?) Matzo Ball Soup
• 4 cups chicken broth, with chicken
• 2 tsp. olive oil
• 2 carrots, peeled and diced
• 2 celery stalks, peeled and diced
• 1 turnip, peeled and diced
• 1/2 large white onion, diced
• Splash of white wine
• 1 garlic clove, pressed
• Matzo ball mix (see recipe below)

1. Heat broth over medium heat, add splash of wine and pressed garlic and stir.
2. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil. Add carrots, turnip, and celery with a dash of salt. Cook until softened. Add onion and cook until soft.
3. Add vegetables to soup and stir.
4. Form matzo into round, 1 tbs. Balls and place on top of the soup. Cook until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Homemade Matzo Balls
I can’t take credit it for this, my good friends at Manischewitz can, as it is what I follow when I make matzo balls. They are the best!

2 eggs
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 c. matzo meal
1/2 teaspoon of salt (I usually use less)
2 tablespoons water or broth

Beat the eggs, blend the eggs with the oil, matzo meal, and salt. Add broth or water, mix until uniform. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Add to soup as described above.