Today was, simply, hectic. I got a late start, the L train was running in two sections, and (no surprise) it was freezing. Plus I had to stop by Whole Foods to get greens and peppers, as well as beets and fresh dill for the borscht recipe I'm testing for school (and Satur Farms mesclun greens - pictured - to feed my addiction). By the end of it, K and I had our brunch date an hour and a half late, but everything turned out fine. Our brunch was great, the borscht turned out well. Unfortunately I lost track of everything I bought at the market today during my rush.
Because the L was running shuttle into Manhattan, it was quite crowded and everyone was irritable...and since the only beets I could find at Whole Foods had greens - big, robust greens with which I would be thrilled on any day I wasn't already heavily laden with produce - I was the person on the train with two feet of green leaves sticking out one of her three giant tote bags. Usually it doesn't faze me, but today everyone's stares burned: I was stressed and vulnerable and there was a lot more negative energy zooming around than usual. At one point I just wanted to yell "haven't you ever seen a woman carrying vegetables before??" In retrospect, it's probably best that I didn't.
The cold plus the stress plus my own perversity have made me plan a four-course dinner tonight. It's relatively simple, but it's four courses nonetheless. My photo assistant will be thrilled to do all these dishes:
Mesclun greens with shallot vinaigrette
Dilled beet borscht (goat cheese garnish)
Mushroom and cheese frittata with garlic-sautéed baby spinach and tat soi (crispy shiitake garnish)
Poached lady apples with toasted walnuts and dried cherry-maple compote
I'm not quite ready to share this borscht recipe, but I was inspired by this Amateur Gourmet thread to post my own favorite granola recipe. I have been refining this one for years, and I have to say, in all modesty, it's just about perfect (at least, to my taste). It's also got a lot going for it, health-wise: sesame seeds are a great source of calcium, sunflower seeds have lots of magnesium, even refined coconut oil is good for you, and walnuts are the best nut source of omega-3. I use half maple syrup for flavor and to cut down on honey, but honey is key for browning and clumping, so all maple doesn't work.
Note: Please buy organic nuts, seeds, and dried fruit whenever possible: pesticide toxins are concentrated in fats and dried foods. And buy nuts as intact as you can (e.g. whole almonds, walnut halves), because the more surface area is exposed, the more quickly their fats oxidize and turn toxic. And always store nuts in the fridge.
Anna's Best Granola
3 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup raw sesame seeds
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts
1/2 cup chopped raw pecans
1 cup chopped raw almonds
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/6 cup grade-B maple syrup
1/6 cup honey
1 cup mixed dried fruit (I like 1/3 each raisins, dried cranberries, and chopped dried cherries)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Mix first six ingredients in large bowl.
Melt coconut oil in small saucepan over low heat; whisk in honey and maple syrup until smooth. (Don't skip this step and add the oil and sweetener separately because they won't combine properly and your granola will stick horribly.)
Add oil/sweetener to oat mixture and stir until thoroughly coated.
Spread on a half-sheet pan and bake 25 minutes or until golden brown; allow to cool completely in the pan.
Using a metal or hard plastic spatula, remove granola into a large bowl and combine with fruit until evenly distributed. Transfer to an airtight container.
Granola will keep for about a week.