Cookbooks: Whole Grain Mornings

Whole Grain Mornings cover

For weeks now, Whole-Grain Mornings has been sitting at the very top of my cookbook stack. I have read it cover to cover, been charmed by its friendly voice, and have even cooked several recipes from its pages (it is a sure sign that I’m in cookbook love if I manage to make more than one thing from it).

It is a book that embodies how I like to cook and eat and I have a feeling that it will appeal to a whole heck of a lot of you as well.

Whole Grain Mornings spine

Written by Megan Gordon (she blogs at A Sweet Spoonful, is a regular contributor to The Kitchn, and is the owner and head baker of Marge Granola), this volume contains recipes designed for the morning (though truly, many of them would also work perfectly well as a lunch, dinner, or snack).

WGM pantry section

The book breaks down into seven sections. Megan starts things off by sharing a little bit of her own story and how life led her to a career in writing and granola making. Then comes a section devoted to the pantry staples that will help you make these recipes, what exactly it means when you see the words “whole grain,” and even how best to store them.

Next is a section called the basics which offers up staple recipes for homemade yogurt, Megan’s very best oatmeal technique, a whole grain pancake mix, infused honeys, and a nut milk how-to.

Honeyed Tangerine and Lemon Marmalade

After that, we get into seasonal sections (this is a good two-thirds of the book). Each of these sections is carefully balanced to include recipes that are good for busy weekdays, some that are perfect to serve friends at brunch, others for slow sundays, and finally some spreads and toppings to enhance the other recipes.

January 23

So far, my very favorite thing from Whole Grain Mornings is the recipe for the Vanilla and Cream Steel-Cut Oats. I’ve long been a fan of steel cut oats and back in my days as an office worker, would regularly make up a big batch on Sunday nights to portion out and eat for breakfast throughout the week.

steel cut oats porridge

However, the way I made them in those days was incredibly bland and more about workday survival than flavor and satisfaction. If I’d known to toast my oats in a bit of butter, cook them with some milk added to the water, and finish them with a handful of golden raisins, I’d have enjoyed those breakfasts a good deal more.

The bottom line on this book is that I am enjoying it a great deal and I have a hunch that you would too!

 

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Preserves in Action: Homemade Tomato Soup

finished tomato soup

We are in the throes of another winter storm here in the Philadelphia area. Schools are closed, roads are impassable, and the sidewalks are treacherous. I don’t find the weather too much of an inconvenience, as I always work from my dining room table or my desk behind the television and thanks to my canning habit, I can go for days without needing to grocery shop.

roasted tomatoes packed in oil

But the conditions have been bad enough that Scott’s office has been closed at least three times since the beginning of January. He was home again today and around noon, managed to look both plaintive and hopeful as he said, “Do we have anything good for lunch?”

There’s been a bit of chatter on the Food in Jars Google Community page about tomato soup and so I suggested the classic pairing of toasted cheese sandwiches and bowls of warm soup.

pouring tomato puree

This qualified as good in his book and so I got out a small soup pot, pulled down a jar of tomato puree, and got to cooking. I started by browning 1/2 a minced onion in 1 tablespoon of butter. While the onions sizzled, I chopped up a few of my precious slow roasted tomatoes and added them to the pot.

I’ve taken to keeping a jar of these tomatoes in the fridge, packed in olive oil (a good layer of oil keeps them from getting moldy). It makes them more readily available for use than if they’re all frozen and so I use them more often in my daily cooking. They do add such a fabulous punch of concentrated tomato flavor.

February 13

Then I added 1 quart of the tomato puree (simply tomatoes run through a press and simmered until slightly thickened prior to canning), 1 cup of half and half (milk would have been fine too, but since I had the good stuff, I went with it), 2 tablespoons of honey, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

I simmered the mixture of a few more minutes and then used to an immersion blender to smooth out the lumps and bits of onion. It was perfect for the chilly day and we both had two bowls.

For those of you also living through this latest round of weather, I do hope you’re staying warm and well-fed!

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An Update on the Canning 101/New to Canning Plan

spices

Several weeks back, I wrote a post asking for feedback about my Canning 101 and New To Canning categories. It’s taken me a little bit of time to digest all the questions and figure out how to tackle them. I found that they shake out into about ten categories (though one is something of a catchall). Here’s what I’m finding that you’re interested in:

  • Canning Basics
  • Fruit Preserves
  • Pickles
  • Tomatoes
  • Sugar
  • Altitude Adjustments
  • Recipe Sourcing and Development
  • Pressure Canning
  • Using Preserves
  • Other Questions

What I’ve done is tried to pull out all the individual questions. Though I have answered many of these questions in one way or another, often those responses are buried in the middle of another post and so aren’t always easy to find. So here’s the plan. Starting next week, I’m going to start answering these questions. I probably will jump around the list a lot and will occasionally group two or three questions together if I think they are different sides of the same coin.

Some of these posts will be short and will live forever under the Canning 101 header. Others will be longer, tutorial-style posts and will get filed under the New to Canning. Hopefully, they’ll all be both useful and interesting. I’m going to use the list below as something of an index, so I will link the questions to the answers once they’re written and I may add to the list as I work.

Finally, if you have a question and don’t see it here, leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list!

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Canning Demo and Book Signing at the Radnor Memorial Library

canning demo set-up

While it’s still winter, things are starting to heat up on my calendar. I’m making daily additions to my classes and events page and tomorrow night, I’ll be kicking off the season with a canning demo and book signing at the Radnor Memorial Library.

I’ll be making a small batch of pear vanilla jam, talking about safe canning techniques, and selling/signing copies of first book (I don’t have copies of the new book to share yet). It’s a free event and the action starts at 7 pm sharp. If you already have a copy of my book that you want signed, please do bring it!

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Links: Marmalades, Muffins, and Puddles

Waffles, fancy butter and maple syrup.

The nearer we get to my book release, the faster time is speeding by. I end every day muttering about tasks that have gone undone and things that I need to tackle the next day when my brain is fresh. I took most of today off from the frenzy in order to sleep late, eat waffles, and sit on the couch watching movies with Scott. It was a most-needed day of rest and I will dive into the madness again tomorrow. Now, links!

There’s no winner in this week’s giveaway because the giveaway isn’t over yet! If you haven’t entered yet, head over to the post and get yourself signed up.

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Preserves in Action: Shredded Chicken Chili

pulled chicken chili

On Wednesday, I wrote about how to make your home canned beans from dried (have you entered the giveaway sponsored by Mighty Nest yet?). Since so many of you mentioned in the comments that you like to use canned beans in chili, I thought that I’d share the basic chili recipe I use all the time. It uses 2-3 jars of beans and at least 2 quarts of preserved tomatoes.

When I have the time, I braise boneless skinless chicken thighs in puree of tomatoes, onions, garlic cloves, and fresh cilantro leaves until they shred easily. If I’m running short on time, I skip the braised chicken and instead just stir a pound ground turkey meat directly into the cooking chili (in that case, I add both jars/cans of tomatoes directly to the cooking chili). Of course, another option is to skip the meat entirely, but it would make my husband sad if I did that in our household.

pulled braised chicken

Let’s have a word about this shredded chicken. It’s an awesome addition to chili, but that’s not all it’s good for. I’ve been known to eat it wrapped in a tortilla or spooned over some braised greens. It’s incredibly flavorful and easy to make. I’ve taken to keeping a batch stashed in our freezer for lazy nights. Oh! One last thing about this chicken. Sometimes the onions make it a little bit sweet and so I’ll add either a splash of lime juice or the brine from a jar of pickled jalapeños to balance things out.

My apologies for the less than stellar photos in this post. I made this chili for dinner one night and forgot entirely to take pretty pictures. I snapped the image at the top of the post (it was the very last bowl) just moments before I ate it for a quick solo dinner. And we all know, the total lack of natural light in my kitchen makes photography hard, even on the most lovely natural light days.

But enough of that. On to the recipe!

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