Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Reason #2 Why I Will Never Be A Great Cook

I was trying to blend some homemade pumpkin the other day in the tiny/cheap blender I bought when I realized that mothers in Japan MAKE their baby food because it isn't available in the stores in the single food types for the beginners. My cheap streak, kicked into overdrive by sleep deprivation, resulted in a small/worthless blender. Somehow Jun was fed during those formative months, but...

I realized I will never be a good cook because I don't own, and really don't plan to own, any cool kitchen equipment, and if I do buy anything, it will be second hand or cheap because I am CHEAP! ARGH! I've dreamt of food processors that blend butter and flour, but I have a pastry cutter - my splurge. I've dreamt of mixers with dough hooks, but I've found recipes that don't take much kneading. I've dreamt of juicers, but then I'd have to buy fruit - and I'm too cheap for that usually. Our ceramic lemon juicer is adequate. I've dreamt of a hand-held electric mixer to make cakes, but a former co-worker showed me I could make them (from a mix) just fine with a fork. And, if I had something to whip cream, well, I couldn't just buy the pre-whipped stuff, could I? And, I don't like whipped cream all that well either. How's THAT for talking myself out of equipment? Now, I have heard of a "silpat" that is popular for baking things. I have no idea what it is. Kind of a re-usable oven paper, I think. But, I am even too cheap to buy oven paper - I grease and flour my pans when necessary. What was that, Mom? Heavily grease and lightly flour?

I would like another set of measuring cups - with the 2/3 and 3/4 sizes included. A 3/4 tsp. would be nice too. Oh, and I DID splurge on a kitchen scale to weigh ingredients for Japanese recipes. I LOVE scales and tape measures and thermometers. Am I crazy?

So, most of my recipes call for more elbow grease than perhaps their counterparts would. But, hey, THAT kind of grease tastes like Love - Right?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Gingersnap Granola

Growing up, our breakfasts were pretty standard. To us, anyway. For example, pancakes were NOT a special dish saved for Saturdays and Sundays. We had pancakes ALL THE TIME! When I went to a friend's house and saw they got RAISIN Bran, I was just too jealous. We only had Total. We had hot oatmeal and scrambled eggs often too. But, breakfast was rarely "special." (Sorry, Mom!)

It was in the very early 70's that I was introduced to granola, at a friend's house. Hot and homemade right out of the oven for breakfast! YUM!

The Peanut Butter Granola is the first granola I've ever made. And, boy have I been making it. (Ryu bought some baby chocolate chips to add to it!) But, one day, I suddenly had a hankering for Gingersnap Granola. You know, that hard and crunchy gingersnap cookie? But for BREAKFAST. Not to say I don't eat cookies at breakfast time, but...wouldn't it be great to eat them LEGALLY?

I searched the web over and found a very few number of Gingersnap Granola recipes. But, they gave me a start. I've worked on revamping this recipe, and NONE of the tries has been bad! Well, I guess there IS one bad thing about the recipe. Unlike the Peanut Butter Granola, it is a bit more clumpy. JUST right for eating with one's hands as a snack. I could eat this for every meal and snack all day! Too yummy!

Jun started off calling the granolas I made, "Mama Made It Cornflakes." Now she calls the Peanut Butter Granola - the "White Granola," and the Gingersnap Granola, the "Black Granola."

Gingersnap Granola

2 cups oatmeal - I use the regular old ones.
1 cup of various flours (whole wheat, corn flour, corn meal, crushed up All-Bran Cereal, crushed up Genmai Cereal (a whole rice flake cereal - I crush the cereals in my hubby's coffee grinder!))
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp. ground dried ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt

Mix the above well, and heat your oven to 140 C. Around 250 F.

In a small saucepan, warm the following ingredients:

1/4 cup oil
1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp. molasses (kuro mitsu works great)
1 tsp. vanilla

When the "wet ingredients" are warmed, pour over the oat mixture and mix well with your hands. Squeezing and squishing to mix it all in well. Spread the mixture out as thinly as possible on a baking sheet. Bake for one hour at 140 C. Stir every 15 minutes after the first 30 minutes. When it is done, it will still be soft. This is your chance to carefully break up any big chunks, and let it cool. Then add:

1 cup raisins (I tried almonds in this recipe as well as dried apricots. Jun and Ryu wouldn't touch the "orange things", and the almonds overpowered the ginger, so...I stick with the raisins!

Store it in a dry place in a zip-lock bag...or whatever!