cranberry gingerbread granola

Gingerbread Granola

When I was a kid growing up, I was fairly smart. My parents were committed to helping me learn as much as possible. I remember my father (who was a computer programmer right when computers were becoming a thing) printing off extra math questions onto giant green and white paper for me to do when I got home from school. The rule was that I had to do as many worksheets as I was tall. Spoiler alert: I’m tall. There’s a home video of me at six-years old learning how to use a compass–and not the compass like pointing to north compass, but the technical drafting math compass as used by engineers and architects. Please note that I never once have used a compass in my life since then. Even thought my parents tried so hard to make sure I had my facts and figures straight, there are so many weird facts and ideas that get stuck into your head when you’re a kid. For example, when childhood me would hear stories about Chicago and in my mind I would picture where Chicago was located on the map of the United States, it was somewhere around the Montana/North Dakota area. Yeah, I have no idea how that happened.

Today’s confession is that I’ve always had a similar struggle with the idea of when the seasons are supposed to happen, and in particular Winter. Let me explain. I am a sucker for Christmas. A. Sucker. I love everything about it. I love the idea of snow and hot chocolate and Santa and presents and the tree and decorations and warm mulled cider and reindeer and magic and and and and. My dream job is Mrs. Claus. Dream job. If Santa was real I would marry that man in a heartbeat. So for some reason, when I was a child and all through my adult life, Winter has always felt like it’s supposed to be the season leading to Christmas. Think about it. The weather for Winter is frosty, often bleak, and it’s colder than it should ever be… shouldn’t you have Christmas to look forward to? Christmas should be the idea that gets you through the Winter. It’s the celebration that honors and finds joy in the snow and it should signify that afterwards you get to move into Spring. Right? Right?!

No. Not right. Not at all right. Christmas is the START of Winter. You get all excited about the delightful holiday trappings and celebrating the season then SIX DAYS LATER you’re supposed to put all of your Christmas gear away and embrace eating healthy and working out and more vegetables. UGH. Double ugh. It’s too soon! It’s not fair! There’s still 3 MONTHS of horrible cold chilly rain/sleet/snow and all of the things that brought you seasonal joy are gone. Instead of your warming eggnog, here’s your thin celery stalk gruel. Cheers.

I thought about starting a petition to move Christmas to March, but I figured that I might get a little bit of resistance. Thus in order to combat my own personal seasonal bafflement I’ve decided to choose to celebrate the seasonal treats through throughout the entirety of Winter rather than overloading myself on everything within two weeks. Three months of Christmas treats! YESSSS! Here’s where the light dawns on this granola.

Gingebread Granola 2

Have you made your own granola yet? No? That’s ok, there’s no judgement here. I didn’t make my own until a couple of years ago. I’ve never been a huge believer in granola because I associated it with my childhood memories of trailmix. Big mistake. Trailmix is like working for food. Whatever one you bought, there’s something in there that you will obviously find gross that you’ll have to pick around, thus stopping you from eating handfuls at a time. My preferred food serving is a handful. Granola however is heaven-sent. It’s sweet, crunchy, chewy, with a touch of salt to bring out the flavors. It’s great on its own, but it adds even more magic as a topping for yogurt, overnight oats, chia pudding, regular pudding, pancakes, waffles–Do you see that?! Granola will give you an excuse to eat more waffles! Granola is also fantastic because it’s infinitely customizable to what you have in your pantry and what sounds good to you in the moment. Cherry Vanilla Almond is always a big hit in my house but I’m also very partial to Banana Anise. Any overflow you have makes a great foodie gift or hostess gift. Fair warning though: Once you open the gates to your own granola-making-heaven, it will be hard to stop. Get ready to have a new foodie-addiction!

This Cranberry Gingerbread Granola is perfect for Christmas, but will also treat you to some winter/Christmas flavors into ACTUAL WINTER, and making the lack of sun a bit more bearable. It makes quite a big batch, so spreading it out over two baking sheets is a good idea. Feel free to scale it down if you’re not sure you’re committed to the process yet and then just use one sheet. Spoiler alert: you should be committed.

Cranberry Gingerbread Granola

(Makes roughly 9 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 4.5 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking, I use gluten-free)
  • 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped raw pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup black sesame seeds
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon (I use Penzeys Vietnamese Cinnamon which is quite strong)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 heaping cup dried cranberries (I use apple-sweetened which I buy at Natural Grocers)
  • 1/2 heaping cup golden raisins

**Note: Any of the above ingredients can be substituted. Don’t have pecans but you have some almonds? No problem, swap it. Don’t like maple syrup but you have some agave or coconut syrup? Swap it. Do you hate pumpkin seeds and the stores are closed and you have no other seeds within a 40 mile radius? Don’t worry, just add something else like pistachios or pinenuts or walnuts or or or. Trust the granola. Feel your inner granola-heaven. You got this.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 and position the two oven racks at the upper and lower thirds.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients from the oats through the salt. Stir to combine.
  4. In a smaller separate bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, melted coconut oil, molasses, vanilla, and the spices.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir several times to coat well.
  6. Add in the 3 egg whites and stir again to coat. <This step helps create clumps of granola>
  7. Divide the granola mix evenly between the two baking sheets.
  8. Bake for roughly 40-60 minutes. Stir the granola and rotate the baking sheets at roughly 15 minute intervals to keep your eye on its progress.
  9. The granola will be done when it smells good and toasted in the house. It may seem to still be slighly wet and sticky, but should dry as it cools.
  10. Once cool, stir in the cranberries and raisins. Store at room temperature in an air-tight container to maintain freshness.

Suggestions for use:

  • Sneak little handfuls while your coffee pot is heating up in the morning or while waiting for your waffles to cook.
  • Put in little portioned baggies for school or work lunches.
  • Put in decorative jars, bags, or boxes for hostess gifts, teacher gifts, or random Thursday gifts to a friend. (Why hello! It’s me, your blog friend. What is this surprise gift? Is today Thursday?)
  • Use as a topping for waffles, pancakes, yogurt, or smoothie bowls
  • Use as the crunchy element of a salad instead of croutons –Pear Blue Cheese Arugula maybe? Eh?

letting it all settle – FEAST 2017 highlights

This year may have been the best FEAST yet. With more chefs, more classes, (more wine!), and the amazing after-hours events, I have to report that I am one happy lady. One of my goals this year was to balance my food focus and learn to take more shots of people. I wanted to try and up my photo-game. Take a look at all this goodness!

The Sandwich Invitational –  18 chefs brought their A-Game to fight for the judges top honor and people’s choice award. Congrats to Rick Gencarelli of Lardo for taking the overall award from the judges and Melissa McMillan of Pastrami Zombie for people’s choice. I brought my own tray from home (it’s a thing I do now #noshame) as a way to grab all of the bites right at the beginning. It’s my fool-proof plan for grabbing all the photos right at the start and getting photos in the natural light before the sun goes down. AND it has the added benefit that everyone stares and really wishes that they’d brought their own tray too. I have a feeling 2018 FEAST will see lots more trays out and about!

Lauretta Jeans’ putting together their biscuit sandwich entry

Chef John Tesar serving his famous pattie melt

dry aged pattie melt

Rick Gencarelli and his winning Nashville Hot Fried Chicken / bacon / honey butter / sweet pickles / duke’s mayo

sixteen of the delicious entries and yes I ate them all! even with a tray it was a balancing act to get all of these in one go. I missed two sandos because they were cooked seafood and that is a no for me. SORRIES!

 

Friday & Saturday Grand Tastings – For two days dozens of wineries, breweries, distillers, makers, restaurants, bakeries, and chefs descend on Pioneer Courthouse Square and turn it into a cavalcade of gastronomic delights. Sampling everything was a total treat!

Eliot’s yummy selection of nut butters – the garam masala might be my favorite

Oregon produces the majority of frozen berries in the US

the flakey layers of the la’ssant from Nola Doughnuts

and their APPLE FRITTER!

fresh poke from QuickFish

the Williams Sonoma booth: renowned chefs cooking in lovely FINEX cast iron

 

FEAST Drink Tank / Kilt’s Not Required: American Single Malt – This was the event where I learned the most; the  passion and experience that was shared by the speaking panel really made this hour informational and enjoyable. One of the most impactful things I learned was the inaccuracy of the “age statement” on a bottle of whiskey–did you know that was initially created as a marketing ploy when distillers had a bunch of old whiskey that didn’t sell? The age doesn’t have a premium effect for how they charge a premium price!

the loveliest place setting

tasting notes from the American single malt tasting

 

SMOKED! – I don’t think I’ve made it too much of a secret that I am a carnivorous human. After a couple of different bouts of eating plans I’ve tried through my 20’s, I’m fairly convinced that meat is an excellent protein source for me. However, please do not read this as any kind of judgement if your experience has led you to another place. I honor your choices and your ability to know what’s right for you. Are we good? Do we both love each other still? Excellent.

This meat-centric event is like my greatest dream. #meatasaurusrex. SMOKED! is the steepest ticket price, but it is the first event to sell out for a reason. Ohmystars. Take a look at this…

the wonderful crew from Sokol Blosser

Chef Adam Sappington brought Snake River Farms TOMAHAWK STEAKS – definitely my favorite bite. ribeye slices / grilled english muffin / bone marrow butter / fresh herby chimichurri

corn four ways

the freshest heavenly briney oysters

the people at FEAST are the best part – everyone is so warm and passionate about what they do

why yes, I will have a ricotta doughnut thank you

ok, so it’s not a secret any more that Matt’s BBQ is the best brisket in town… but taking brisket and adding chopped peach, fragrant rice, and jungle curry? DROOL

why yes I will have a second glass. cheers!

chefs go all out for these events as evidenced by the fact that there was bone marrow smothered in TARTARE!

mmmmeeeeeeaaaaaaatttttttttt

don’t forget the whiskey!

spicy pork vindaloo from Troy MacLarty, brilliant chef behind Bollywood Theater

bringing your own tray from home is still a bit of a balancing act

my happy place: tray of meat + glow sticks + giant tomahawk steak rib

 

It was a fantastic year, and I can’t wait to do it all over again. I’ll definitely be looking to do SMOKED! again and possibly a chef’s dinner. Also, if anyone has Adam Sappington’s direct line,  pretty please pass on that I need one of those tomahawk steaks as soon as possible. #insertsobbingemoji.

Rock on 2017!

a couple from SMOKED! has now dubbed me “tray lady”. ha!

 

the FEAST schedule and extra events have dropped

Guys. I thought my pre-game plan for FEAST Portland was going to include eating salad for a week. And then I didn’t. I’m not sure exactly what will happen, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to buy a bigger belt. And that’s ok. I’M WORTH IT.

I’m headed to more events this year than I have before and I’m pretty giddy. It’s like foodie Christmas. Take a look:

Wednesday:

  • Williams Sonoma Welcome Party

 

Thursday:

  • Main Event: Sandwich Invitational
  • After Party: Ham & Eggs 80’s Party

Friday:

  • Media Breakfast
  • Health-Ade Kombucha Class
  • Main Event: Grand Tasting
  • PopUp: Milkbar’s Christina Tocci!!!
  • After Party: Saxx + Weiners

Saturday:

  • Secret Maker Brunch – SHHHHH!
  • Wiz Bang Bar + Souvla Sundae PopUp Event
  • Main Event: Grand Tasting
  • Rose All Day Drink Tank
  • Punch Drink Tank
  • Main Event: SMOKED!

Sunday: No events. Full on in-bed recovery day

I’m a total lightweight and let me tell you, FEAST is just as much about the great wine and alcohol as much as it is about the food! If you have any sure-fire hangover cures I’m all ears.

Yeah. I’m in trouble. There’s always an event or two that you don’t hear about until the last minute too.

Which events are you going to? Can I meet up with you somewhere and say hello? Are you taking part from home this year and having an Instagram follow-sesh? How can I help make you feel a part of it?—are there are things you want to hear more about or see more of? Do you love Instagram stories?—I’m horrible at those but I would learn if you wanted me to…that’s how important you are to me. Let me know what you’re most excited about in the comments below and we’ll crush the event together!

it’s baaaack!

Four days of utter food indulgence is about to blanket Portland, OR starting Thursday, September 14th. FEAST Portland is upon us.

For those of you who haven’t heard of FEAST, it is a culinary celebration of everything that makes food in the PNW great. FEAST brings together makers, distillers, wineries, restaurants, chefs, food publications, and cocktail creators from all across the country to collaborate and share their passions for food.

french toast sushi

Multiple layers of food exploration via taste, sight, sound, learning, creativity. If you’re paying close attention your food mind will be blown. For my food-loving self this is a food mecca and food learning-intentsive rolled into one.

beet salad from Jacobsen Salt Co

You can get prepped for next week by reviewing my three-part 2016 coverage of the behind-the-scenes media events and Brunch Village at the links below. And then let me know what you’d like to hear more about this year—what are you interested in? What would you like to see more of from this year’s coverage? (Please don’t say salad, please don’t say salad)

Part I : The Kickoff

Part II: The Grand Tastings

Part III: Brunch Village

fried chicken sando @Brunch Village 2016

quick gingery pickled apple

Remember a couple weeks when I gushed and gushed about the comfort heart hug that is the Bibimbap bowl? Yeah. I ate those leftovers all week for a #notsaddesklunch and everyone in my office was jealous. By the end of the week this conversation was becoming common:

“Did you bring your Bibimbap again?”

“Yep.”

“It still looks really good.”

“It really is.”

Pause.

Chewing.

Silence.

Jealous onlooking.

“Man I need to go buy some kimchee.”

10 o’clock is pickled apple time

One of the longer-time-needing toppings I used for my bowls is this Quick-Pickled Apple. I utterly stole this idea from Kim Jong Smokehouse (one of my favorite Portland restaurants) and their Bibimbap. Their apple topping is sweet, tart, and vinegary and pairs perfectly with the rest of the dish while adding it’s own pop of flavor.

My version of the apple doesn’t take long to make, but should sit for a bit in the fridge to let the flavors meld. I left mine in the fridge for 24 hours before the first bowl and it did deepen over time. Note, this recipe doesn’t use a proper canning technique to make it shelf stable. It should be kept in the fridge and used up in a week or two. That said, I DID leave a batch in the fridge for quite a bit longer and I still ate it, but I can’t advocate for that “officially” because I don’t want you to get some rare disease like AppleSalmonella or GingerLeprosy. But also use your own sweet wonderful judgement.

quick gingery pickled apple (perfect for korean bibimbap)

(Makes roughly 1 pint jar depending on the size of your apple)

Ingredients:

  • 1 firm apple julienned (I used a Pink Lady apple and the OXO V-Blade Mandoline Slicer)
  • 1 tbsp ginger, rough chopped (or julienned)
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1 tsp coriander seed
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¾ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • ¾ tbsp salt
  • 1 ¼ tbsp sugar

Instructions:

  1. Pack apple, ginger, star anise, and coriander into a clean wide mouth pint jar or a large jar with a lid.
  2. Combine water, vinegar, salt and sugar in a pot over high heat. Bring to a boil or until sugar and salt have dissolved.
  3. Carefully pour hot liquid into canning jar and cover the ingredients, leaving about ½ inch of room at the top.
  4. Gently place lid and pop into the fridge to soak
  5. Let sit at least 24 hours prior to use

Suggestions for use:

  • As a topping for Bibimbap Bowls
  • Mixed with cabbage and jalapeño to make a slaw for burgers
  • On top of carnitas tacos with lots of queso fresco and cilantro
  • As a garnish for a huge salad with feta and granbanzos

What other flavors or herbs do you like in your pickling? What are some of the pickled items you have done at home? Have you done any other fruits?