Not Too Sweet Granola

Not Too Sweet Granola

I have a salt tooth. Even as a little kid, I was on the fence about candy. Sure, I’ll eat a little dessert here and there, but it’s not a driving force. At one of my first jobs out of college my office mates wanted to throw me a birthday party. I kindly requested that they didn’t buy a cake, but instead encouraged them to get a round of brie and pop a few candles on top. They did and it was perfect! Today I’m mostly “planty,” (my husband’s new perfect descriptor versus the rather dull “plant-based”) so I’d skip the brie, but maybe instead ask for a container of cashew cheese. Most granolas on the market are way too sweet for me, so I came up with this recipe that I think is just about perfect. Sometimes I have all the nuts and seeds listed below, but sometimes not — it’s a very flexible recipe. Often I’ll swap out some for things like ground chia (if you don’t grind the chia, the pesky little seeds embed themselves in your teeth) or hemp seeds. However, if you like things a little sweeter, just add more honey. Or if you prefer a richer, denser version, increase the oil. By the way, nuts and seeds go rancid pretty quickly, so I keep a small amount of the granola in a glass jar on my counter, but freeze the rest to keep it fresh.

Leftover Sourdough Starter Crackers

Leftover Sourdough Starter Crackers

This is a fabulous recipe for using up your extra sourdough starter. I don’t tend to make a ton of bread because we have so many excellent artisan bakeries in town, but I like to keep my sourdough starter fresh which means I either throw out the majority of my old starter or try to find ways to incorporate it into other recipes. I’m not a huge fan of the usual suspects – sourdough pancakes or waffles – so I’ve been making variations on a theme of these crackers for over a year now. Sometimes I use rosemary, sometimes thyme or even a pinch of smoked paprika. I brush with a little water prior to baking or sometimes a little olive oil and sprinkle on top a little more herb, salt or cracked pepper. The recipe below is really a base for your imagination and taste buds!

Cashew Dill Cheesy Spread

Cashew Dill Cheesy Spread

I’ve messed around with making a variety of alternative cheeses, but I’m just not a fan of ingredients like tapioca flour or agar agar powder, etc. This recipe is my latest obsession because it’s so simple and incredibly delicious. Adding a bit of brine from your favorite fermented vegetable gives it a dose of healthy probiotics, too. To get the super creamy texture, however, you will need a bad ass blender like BlendTec or a VitaMix. If you try making it in a food processor or a normal blender, the result will still be tasty, but the texture will be a bit grainy.

Artichoke Dip 2020

Artichoke Dip 2020

Growing up in Missouri in the 1970s I went to a lot of potlucks. A lot. Most were filled with things like Swedish Meatballs, Three-Bean Salad, Macaroni Casserole, Watergate Salad, Jello Everything, and of course, buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken. My mother would get so annoyed at those who brought KFC. She would mutter under her breath, “Why the hell did I go to all the trouble to make something from scratch if others are just buying fast-food?” And people wonder where I get my attitude…

All of this to say somewhere embedded in my taste memory is a fondness for another 1970s favorite: Artichoke Dip. A dollop on a Triscuit was my favorite snacking comfort food. While I still think Triscuits are the greatest cracker ever invented (no judgement, please), I have outgrown the mayo-heavy, bland artichoke dip of my youth. Below is a recipe I started making nearly ten years ago. It’s a tiny bit more sophisticated but still pretty comfort food-y. The other day I also realized that if you pick up a can of artichoke hearts (in water, not oil) on your next COVID-19 grocery run, chances are you might have all the ingredients on hand for that night when your neighbors wanna come over for some Driveway Drinking. This also makes a wonderful spread for a sandwich or wrap filled with avocado, cucumbers and a slice of sharp cheddar…

Fromage Fort or Tiny Fondue

Fromage Fort or Tiny Fondue

This might be one of my favorite recipes. It’s ridiculously delicious, simple to make, freezes beautifully, and most importantly uses up bits and pieces of cheese that you might have otherwise thrown out. I discovered it back in the early 2000s and have been making it about once or twice a year ever since. It’s from Jacques Pepin, who adopted it from his own father’s recipe. My father, who recently died in January, loved to gift us with wedges of cheese when he would come over to our house several times a week for dinner. While we loved the cheese, sometimes we just didn’t get around to eating it all. As a result, a couple of times a year I would gather all the “old” cheese and whip up a batch. Moldy cheese? Don’t worry, as my mom used to always say “Just cut off the mold. It’s still good!” when I would pull out a hunk of cheese that was past its prime.

Quarantine White Bean Dip

Quarantine White Bean Dip

If you’re cooking and adding beans to everything these days like minestrone, soup, stews, etc., this is a great way to use up the extras. If you don’t have tahini, just use a tiny bit more olive oil. The fat from the olive oil and/or tahini is what makes the dip a little more decadent. Specific quantities are listed below, but just adjust to what you have on hand and your taste. FYI: this also works with canned beans.