I’m still on pins and needles waiting for the new Ina cookbook, but I thought I’d bide my time by getting ready for our annual parish retreat. It’s at Camp Allen, which is my children’s favorite place in the world (unless you count my sister’s house, which always takes first place). There are a ton of kids their age who run around in the dirt all weekend, and a few responsible preteen girls who come back and report to me about their behavior. We all take turns cooking and tending to things, and we come back a few days later with our bedsheets full of sand and our hearts full of happiness.
This year, the retreat comes on the tail of having 30 people at our house on Sunday afternoon for an event, and comes right before Neil leaves for clergy conference for three days. Right after he gets back, I’ll leave for a few days for the Mockingbird Conference in Oklahoma City. This is just the chaotic streusel we needed to top our full-time work schedules and two kids in school with different activities, right before Halloween. BECAUSE WHY NOT.
A few friends and I got assigned to the Saturday morning breakfast shift, and the pressure is on. It’s the first meal that will prepared for the group of about 75 people, and it’s got to get us through an active morning. I’m putting Neil in charge of picking out cereal, because left to his own devices, his cereal tastes run along the lines of the preschool set. I decided this would be prime time to try out some new granola recipes. They’ll hopefully stick to our ribs better than commercial cereal, and it’s something I can make ahead of time.
I made my favorite peanut butter granola from The New Midwestern Table, and it makes the whole house smell amazing.
The next night, I made an Ina recipe that hasn’t been published in any of her cookbooks yet, for Roasted Hazelnut Granola. I used browned butter instead of the oil, and I kicked up the honey a little bit because I only had unsweetened coconut. This one looks a little more nutty than the other batches, so it might actually be better as an oatmeal topping than on its own in a cereal bowl.
Next, I made the smitten kitchen’s Big Cluster Maple Granola, which is sweetened with maple syrup and dried cherries instead of honey.
I don’t know if I’ll have time to make more before we go, but it’s seriously the easiest thing to make on a weeknight after dinner, or after the kids go to bed. Mix up a few things in one big bowl, spread it on parchment-lined cookie sheets, and bake it for less than a half-hour. ALSO, the granola complements our family talent show act nicely this year. I’m not going to reveal what we’re doing, but let’s just say there will be hippies. Last year, Neil played Tevye and I played Golda, and we sang “Do You Love Me?” from Fiddler on the Roof. It was so much fun, except for the pesky Broadway scouts who kept calling for weeks afterward, begging us for a reprise. We don’t have time for that when there’s an Ina cookbook coming out soon!
And speaking of hippie dippie granola, check out this very cool thing from King Arthur Flour: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/bakeforgood/.) If you pledge to bake something for someone else, King Arthur Flour will donate money to feed someone in need. How cool is that?