I think I mentioned recently that my husband gave me The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen for Christmas, and I’m positively giddy about it. (OK, I bought it and wrapped it, but I know he would have bought it for me if he had seen it first. It’s not his fault that I’m such an excellent gift-giver, even to myself.) It has gorgeous photographs, beautiful writing, and enticing recipes. I would be jealous of Ms. Thielen if I weren’t so busy drooling over the pages of her book, which travels around the house (and even to bed) with me like a new puppy. She makes homemade creme de cassis and buys her eggs at the local gas station, for crying out loud. I love her, and I kind of want to be her. She is Minnesota’s answer to The Smitten Kitchen, but don’t tell the Smitten Kitchen that, because I love her, too. I guess the same could be said about the Lee Brothers for the Southeastern United States, and the Homesick Texan for Texas. It’s so exciting to have a regional specialty cookbook for my homeland, especially one this beautiful. Now, there are some oddities within these pages – homemade pickled herring, caesar salad with smoked sardines, head cheese, homemade sauerkraut, braunschwager – and even though I wouldn’t touch some of them with a ten-foot pole (hint: head cheese is not really cheese), they still remind me of home and all the disgusting things that would parade out of our fridge whenever my grandparents would visit.
You can find Ms. Thielen’s blog in my blog roll to the right of the screen – it’s called Sourtooth.
So. We have this gorgeous new cookbook, and what do I make first? Granola. Yep, cereal. Even though I’ve made Ina’s version, I had to try out this recipe with peanuts and peanut butter. First of all, peanut butter! Or, as my two-year-old says, “pita butt-oh.” Can I please just freeze him at this age forever? I love peanut butter year-round, but I really crave it in the cold months, possibly because Dr. Google tells me that it helps me produce (or receive? I dunno) serotonin, which (I think?) helps stave off the winter blues. Hey, I’ll take it. But also, there’s something about these super-cold temperatures that makes me want to go all Ma Ingalls and use what we have in the pantry. Maybe it’s from growing up in the middle of nowhere and “making do” with whatever stockpile we had in the basement, but I take a certain pride in having enough items on hand to throw together something really great. It’s the end of the month, so your budget might be stretched thin, and you’re anticipating that next month’s heating bill is going to be a whammy. So why not treat yourself to some delicious, peanut buttery granola?
I felt a little less guilty using substitutions with this recipe, since it wasn’t part of the official Contessa-Curessa project (not that that’s stopped me before). I didn’t use coconut (too much grit), and just substituted more oatmeal for coconut, using a 1:1 ratio. I omitted the raisins/currants completely, because I have plans to add a banana instead, or maybe some of those raspberries that are still hanging out in my fridge.
Or! How amazing would this be crumbled on top of vanilla ice cream, with some of the melted raspberry preserves from the failed raspberry tart?
I think this might be the start of a beautiful friendship.