This winning entry for the Salon Kitchen Challenge -- in which we asked readers to come up with granola recipes -- comes to us courtesy of Mandee Tatum. (Check out this week's Challenge here.) But there's something unusual going on this week. Fans of the Salon Kitchen Challenge know that it's a friendly contest of stories, recipes and the occasional semi-erotic love letter. There is one place where it turns ugly though: the vicious, bloodthirsty, hilarious Kitchen Challenge battles between 1_Irritated_Mother and I Am Surly. And this week, the peace, love and happiness week of granola, they brought their battle to the public. Congratulations, ladies. You both win this week. Now put the knives down!
[Author's Note: So I'm sitting there the other morning, drinking my coffee and minding my own business, when I get a message on Facebook from 1_Instigating_Mother:"Hey, you west coast wonk - I challenge you to a granola-off - you got any game left?" And I'm thinkin', "WTF is this lunatic soccer mom on about this time? I got so much game left it's sick, whatever the crazy challenge is that she wants to lay down." I schooled her last time, and I will school her again with this challenge. We all know that the only reason Francis Lam didn't pick me to win the Bourbon Slushie-Off is because he's scared this crazy housewife from Hysteria Lane will track him down and go all Midwestern Bree Van de Kamp on him. And he's got good reason to be afraid. I, on the other hand, do not.
Also thanks to Stellaa, Open Salon's resident liberal (and I suspect longtime hippie sympathizer) who was kind enough to back me in this challenge, and sent me a number of granola recipes only available to those who know the secret Berkeley handshake. It's most certainly a West Coast thang.]
You wouldn't know it to look at me, being that I'm such a classy gal, but I've got a fair number of hippies in my family. Now normally I wouldn't brag about it, but if we're gonna be talkin' Earth Day and granola I gotta make it clear that I've got street cred on this subject. I remember the days when we used to call trail mix "gorp" and my aunt Melantha, one of the original hippies replete with unshaven legs and armpits and flowers in her hair, used to make it with carob instead of chocolate because that was the "natural" way. (No one in their right mind should ever eat carob.)
My sister Parrish was a next-generation flower child of the '80s who lived, albeit briefly, on a commune where they generated electricity by riding a bicycle and eventually landed in the California hippie enclave of Humboldt County. For those of you who are geographically challenged, this is a region of Northern California infamous for its verdant fields of cannabis and annual mushroom festival. It is one of the last hippie strongholds in America. Parrish was a devoted Deadhead who made a number of pilgrimages around the country traipsing behind Jerry and the dancing bears.
Parrish's commitment to tie-dye bordered on compulsive for a while, and she even went so far as to break into my bedroom (past the lock on the window and the deadbolt on the door) to steal a white dress I treasured and tie it up in rubber bands and soak it in dye while I was out at work.
At the end of Parrish's life she had moved from Humboldt to Boulder Creek, Calif. -- yet another hippie enclave. Her last few years were surrounded by the forests of the Santa Cruz mountains and a small group of girlfriends whose commitment to keeping the hippie tradition alive was no less than hers, a group I frequently referred to as the Goddamn Hippies. I regularly made them munchies as they gathered around my sister's bedside to talk, read, sit quietly, or smoke a bong load. This recipe would have been a more than acceptable treat.
Goddamn Hippie Granola Cookie & Tie-Dyed Ice Cream Sandwiches
All recipes here require that you light a patchouli incense stick to ritually cleanse the kitchen, and only cook in Birkenstocks.
(Adapted from the Berkeley Cheese Board)
4 tablespoons butter
2 pinches salt
2 cups chopped pecans and almonds
4 teaspoons honey
½ cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
- Preheat oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the salt over low heat. Add the chopped nuts, stir frequently for 5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Add the honey and brown sugar and stir until melted and combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- In a large bowl combine the oats and coconut. Add the sugar mixture and toss until the oats are evenly coated.
- Spread the granola evenly on the prepared pan. Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir to redistribute the granola.
- Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Let cool completely on the baking sheet. Store the granola in an airtight container.
Granola and Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Adapted from Gourmet)
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups granola
¼ cup dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, raisins)
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In a bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, beating until well combined, and then add vanilla. Stir in flour mixture and then add remaining ingredients.
- Drop dough in ice cream scoops 2 inches apart on a baking sheet (press down to flatten) and bake for approximately 16 minutes, rotating trays halfway.
- Cool cookies on a rack and keep in airtight container.
Vanilla Ice Cream
(From Bruce Weinstein's awesome cookbook: "The Ultimate Ice Cream Book")
Makes approx. 1 quart of vanilla ice cream
2 cups 2 percent milk
2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Bring milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Slowly beat the hot milk into the eggs (adding milk 1 tablespoon at a time for the first ¾ cup). Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and place over low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon until custard thickens slightly. Do not overcook as the eggs will scramble.
- Remove from heat and strain custard into a large bowl set in an ice-water bath. Allow to cool slightly, then add the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Store in the fridge for a few hours, preferably overnight. Mix in ice cream machine as per manufacturer's instructions.
Tie-Dyed Ice Cream
Vanilla Ice Cream
4 flavors of gelatin
- Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of one of the flavors of gelatin in the bottom of a freezer-compatible container. Layer with some of the vanilla ice cream. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of another flavor of gelatin, and layer with additional vanilla ice cream. Continue until you've used all the colors and all the ice cream.
- Put ice cream in fridge for several hours until firm.
- When firm, scoop ice cream onto cookies and sandwich two together.
[Final author's note: Originally, I had planned on making Marijuana Ice Cream as part of the recipe for this challenge, as that seemed apropos of both my sister and the hippie movement. However, the recipe called for 2 ounces of marijuana, which retails for about $800, and reminded me vaguely of the time Parrish and I tried to temper the nasty aftertaste of shrooms by making vanilla shroom milkshakes. So I thought better of the whole exercise.]