Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fumigation Woes and... Homemade Granola!

Hi everyone, sorry for the absence. Things have been crazy around here to say the least. 

Last September, I noticed a bug with wings on Sophie's play mat.  I picked up the mat to shake off the bug outside and underneath were about 30 more!  I took it outside, got my vacuum and got rid of them.  I started looking around my living room and noticed four or five more sitting on our couch!  Yuck.  Turned out they were termites and were starting to swarm and, fortunately, that was the worst it got.

Our apartment manager promised a fumigation in the next year before they began to swarm again, so here we are. Last week we got fumigated and UGH- what an annoying process. We had to put anything digestible into plastic bags which included medicine, toothpaste, spices, everything in our fridge, freezer and more.  Oh, and did I mention we couldn't be in our house for 2 days? I know that goes with the territory, but UGH. 

Our landlord has been very generous, actually, and put up everyone in our building in a local hotel, but we opted to take a prorated discount to our rent and spend a few days with Stephen's family.  We knew we would save more money that way by avoiding eating out, plus I wanted to keep Sophie away from the house for an extra day.  I wasn't sure if/how her little body would react to the trace amounts (we're talking 20 parts per million, not much at all) that are allowed for re-entrance into the building.  I also needed the extra day to get the house back together so I wouldn't have to worry about the kids getting into everything.  Stephen's parents are so generous.

So, that's what we've been up to.  Which means my meal planning thing has gone to pot.  But, here we are at the beginning of another month, so I can really implement the goals I had last month of limiting going out to eat and preparing freezer items for meals.  The next two months will be a challenge because we are going to two family reunions and will be traveling, but planning ahead will make all the difference, I think.

Today I need to prepare a lot of things for my kitchen.  I need to:
  • Toast Granola for breakfasts and snacks
  • Make Granola Bars
  • Cook, package, and freeze beans
  • Bake bread
That sounds like a lot, but the beans take little to no effort and the other items come pretty easily to me now that I make them so regularly.  Can I just say that not having to purchase cold cereal has saved us a TON of money?!  It requires a little more effort on my part, but it's been totally worth it.  Cold cereal has moved from our "necessity" list onto our "special-treat-when-it's-an-amazing-price" list. 

We love our granola.  We eat it with milk, yogurt, or alone as a snack.  I found a wonderful recipe from Kitchen Stewardship that I love.  Please go to her site and browse her great recipes (on a side note, I have a different recipe for granola bars that I like better.  I'll share that with you later!).  This granola is sweet, nutty and has a nice coconut flavor.  Delicious.

Coconut Granola

In a large mixing bowl, combine:

3 cups rolled oats (old fashioned or quick oats will work fine, doesn't matter)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (these are very inexpensive)
1/2 cup other nut (whatever is on sale, or more sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Variations to add at this point:

1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup wheat flour or germ (if you struggle to get your family to eat grains)
1 cup dried fruit (raisins, craisins, dried berries, chopped dried mango, etc)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a medium saucepan (or in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time between stirring), melt together:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey (I store mine in the fridge because it's old and I don't want it to spoil, so it's pretty hard and needs to be melted. Stephen's grandmother gave us a a couple gallons of honey a while back, haha)

When melted together (and NOT boiling) remove from heat then add:

1/6 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour over dry ingredients and mix together.  There are two options to toast it from here:

Option A

Spread granola in a shallow baking pan and bake at 250 degrees.  Stir after 30 minutes, bake another 5 or so (to get the oven back up to temperature) then turn off the oven, leaving the door closed, and leave overnight.  For this method, the layer of granola must be very thin so it will crisp, so I recommend using something like a jelly roll pan.

Option B

Put the granola in a 9x13 baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then stir.  Put back in the oven.  Every 5 minutes stir the granola. Scrape the bottom of the pan and move it all around so it doesn't burn.  Continue stirring every 5 minutes until granola is golden and crispy.  It will change from the milky oatmeal color to a rich, toasted, golden brown color.  If in doubt, taste it to see how crunchy it is, but be careful as it is easy to let it go an extra cycle and begin to taste a little burned.  This process will take approximately 30-35 minutes.


I use option B most often, as I usually make granola bars or get my bread dough going at the same time.  It all depends on how you want to use your time and how soon you need your granola! I'm been known to procrastinate a bit and bake it the morning I need it.

Happy baking!