It’s been a while, but it’s my pleasure to re-introduce my favorite guest blogger, who made a few past appearances in the Bewitching (remember guacamole?).  My beloved husband, who at age 21 was almost as handsome as he is today, shares with you his recipe for the best granola ever!   It pains me to admit it comes from a former girlfriend, but chances are I bake a better bread, and play a much meaner  round of golf. So, there!  😉

We spent part of our winter holiday in Sedona, AZ, where we enjoyed one of the local stores, the New Frontiers Natural Marketplace.  Still, I nearly choked on the price of some of their whole grain cereals: $13 or more for a pound of granola. It convinced me to get off my ass and make my own granola, so here’s my recipe from the golden age of peace and love: 1973.

We lived in a big Green House on Capitol Avenue in Lansing, MI, and this recipe became a staple of our diet.  It’s where me and Dave (together in the picture), Jimmy, Al and Joey spent a few years, chasing girls, cooking for each other, and listening to great music on Dave’s JBL speakers. I was 21 and dating Susie, who made the best granola anywhere, from Ann Arbor to Bloomington to Madison.

For us it was a golden age, of optimism, exploration, righteousness, liberation and natural foods.  When  you put together the ingredients for this recipe you’ll understand (and embrace) the meaning of  “grain brain.” Nothing’s better than this kind of natural food.   Once you make it and have a morning bowlful, you may never return to the preposterous prices of commercial granola.  The cost of this recipe has at least tripled in the nearly 4 decades I’ve made it, from about $10-12 to near $40 per batch, but it makes about 15 pounds, bringing the cost to a more realistic $2.50 per pound.   Cost aside, the granola’s flavor is unforgettably nutty and hearty, and the beauty of the recipe is its flexibility: you can change it in whatever way you want to customize the cereal.  Want a gluten-free version?  Then skip the wheat germ and use oat bran instead.  Don’t care for walnuts?  Use pecans instead.  Allergic to peanuts?  Substitute sunflower oil for the peanut oil.  I usually add raisins and chopped dates, which are excellent, to the baked granola, but in this batch I added dried cranberries and banana chips for a change of pace. Or leave out the banana chips and eat a bowl with fresh banana slices.  Mmmmm, that’s good!

Now, this is not a low-fat granola.  It’s a natural, whole-grain mix that gives you a mouthful of rich flavors in every bite.  To control the calories, just eat less (which you may find difficult!).

(from PEK)


1.  Mix the dry ingredients in a large (huge) pan or bowl:
3 pounds rolled oats
1 pound raw wheat germ
1 pound chopped walnuts
1 pound other chopped nuts (hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds or a mixture)
1 raw, chopped coconut (water drained and reserved)
1 pound sunflower seeds
1 pound pepitas
1 pound brown sugar

2.  Mix the wet ingredients in a large (½ gallon) container:

water from the coconut
2 cups hot water
1 cup peanut oil
1 cup sesame oil
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup maple syrup (or, use whichever of these sugars you prefer in the proportion you desire)
2 T vanilla

Heat the oven to 325 F.  Mix the dry ingredients very well in a large roasting pan or a huge bowl.  Whip the wet ingredients with a whisk or fork and pour half of it over the dry ingredients.  Mix well and then pour the remainder of the wet ingredients over the batch.  Mix very well with a large spoon, making certain that all the materials become uniformly moistened.  Spread the cereal on cookie sheets, about 3/4 in thick, and bake for 45 – 60 min, turning with a spatula every 15 min.  Let the granola cool, combine the baked batches and add some dried fruits: raisins, dates, apricots, cranberries, blueberries or banana chips … your choice, about 1.5 pounds.  Store the cereal in a large, airtight tin or vac-pack it in 1-2# pound portions.


to print the recipe, click here

Some photos of the process (click on the pictures to enlarge)…

The ingredients…

Mixing the dry ingredients…

Draining and chopping the coconut…

Chopping the nuts…

Mixing dry and wet ingredients…

Baking, turning, and cooling…  the final stretch!

ONE YEAR AGO: Mushroom Souffle for Two


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I am thrilled to invite you to read my first post as a guest blogger over at!

Jessica contacted me and told me I could write a blog on any type of recipe, which immediately launched me into a hyperventilation fit.  Since one of the things that calms me down is bread baking, I opted for a sourdough.  Easy decision. Which bread to make was a lot more complicated, as at any given time I might have 20 breads on my  “to bake soon” list.   😉

I chose a sourdough boule that would be appropriate for a feast!   Curious?  Click here for the article and the recipe…

This bread will be submitted to Susan’s Yeastspotting event, my first submission of 2012!

Jessica (and Valerie), thanks so much for the opportunity to contribute to your site!

Just a sunset…. a Maui sunset… 



After a flight of less than 5 hours from San Diego, we took our first peek at  Maui,  an island that’s much less developed than Oahu, …which is a good thing for a tropical paradise…  The pilot made some sadistic turns banking sharply left and right, but the views were spectacular.

We drove straight to Kapalua at the northwestern part of the island,  and installed ourselves in a little cottage on the Kapalua Bay Golf Course, with a great view from our balcony and a pretty cozy and functional kitchen (to make any food blogger happy!).

Speaking of food, we ate exclusively fish and seafood during our stay, mostly sushi and sashimi, which were spectacular, as expected…

We took hikes together, enjoying magnificent views…
…and saw  a woman doing yoga poses facing the ocean, in almost complete solitude at this magical place called Dragon’s Teeth.

We laid down by these palm trees sunbathing for a long time (don’t tell our dermatologist!), letting our thoughts go wherever they chose to go…

We played a lot of golf on the Kapalua Plantation course, where the PGA is currently playing the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.  It was so tough that that it brought the best in Phil and the worst in me… but that is another story, that shall be told another time… 😉

Notice his golf ball zipping through…. pretty cool!

We’ve traveled together to many places, but more often than not, our travels are linked to work.  This was a strictly fun trip to celebrate Phil’s birthday,and the beginning of 2012.   The year could not have started on a better note!


ONE YEAR AGO:  The Getty Museum

TWO YEARS AGO: Crowd Pleasing Pulled Pork

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This recipe, from a recent compilation in Fine Cooking called “One Pot Meals”, went from the page to a pot in the blink of an eye.  It called for all kinds of goodies that I love: chicken, root veggies, pomegranate and the perfect spices to tie them together.  The glaze roasted into a sexy ruby color, and the skin of the chicken will make anyone smile.  So, why is it a work in progress, you might ask?   Read on….

(adapted from Fine Cooking magazine)

1 large orange, zested and juiced
1 cup pomegranate juice
1-1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
Freshly ground black pepper
6 tsp. olive oil
Kosher salt
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 leeks, white part only, cut in 1/4 inch slices
4-lb. chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Heat the oven to 400°F.

In a medium saucepan, Combine the orange juice and pomegranate juice in a saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce it to 1/4 cup (about 20 minutes). Add half of the thyme (eye balling is fine), all the cinnamon, and black pepper (about 1/4 tsp or according to your taste). Divide the mixture between two small bowls. To one bowl add 2 tsp. of the oil and 1/2 tsp. salt. To the other add the chicken broth, all but 1 tsp. of the orange zest, and 1/4 tsp. salt.

Scatter the sweet potatoes, parsnips, and leeks over the bottom of a dish that measures about 10 x 15 x 2 inches. Toss with the remaining 4 tsp. of oil and the rest of the thyme.  Arrange the chicken pieces, skin side up, on top of the vegetables and brush with all of the juice-oil mixture. Roast for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and reduce the temperature to 375°F. Pour the reduced pomegranate-chicken broth mixture around the chicken pieces and scatter the walnuts around them.  Return the pan to the oven and roast until the vegetables are tender and an instant-read thermometer registers 165°F in several pieces of chicken, 20 to 30 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a serving dish.  Remove the veggies and walnuts with a slotted spoon, season them lightly with salt, sprinkle the remaining orange zest all over the meat and veggies. Pour the liquid from the roasting pan in a pyrex type container, remove as much fat as possible.  Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper and pour into a pitcher to serve with the food.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Make sure you use pure pomegranate juice (yes, it is expensive compared to blends, but  worth it in this case, because you will concentrate it quite a bit).  I’d love to give this recipe two thumbs all the way up, but it had some problems.  Many of the pieces of sweet potatoes and parsnips were not completely cooked: their centers were still hard.  I tested some with a fork before removing from the oven, but as Murphy’s Law would have it, those were perfect… (sigh).  Next time I’ll cover the dish with foil during the first 30 minutes, then pour the liquid all over it and roast it uncovered, perhaps adding a little more water if the veggies dry up during the final roasting.  I suspect that with this minor change it will be a winner.

One pot meals are such life-savers for a busy cook, and this recipe, apart from reducing the pomegranate/orange juice, doesn’t require much work. Even better, the reduction could be made a couple of days in advance.  With a nice loaf of bread or a green salad, dinner is ready!

ONE YEAR AGO: A Message from WordPress

TWO YEARS AGO: Turkish Chicken Kebabs

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We are home!  No matter how great a trip is, coming back home is the best part, although I must admit the first day feels a bit like a mild hangover.  But, the blogging year could not start on a better note: just before we left for our (wonderful) trip,  Sharyn, from The Kale Chronicles presented me with  The Versatile Blogger Award!   Who doesn’t like a little praise every once in a while?  Feels good…

Part  of the deal of the Versatile Blogger Award is to say 7 things about yourself, so here it goes:

1. I was a premature baby, stayed in the hospital for 40 days inside an incubator, but for the first few days they kept me together with a Chinese-Brazilian baby, so that his body heat would keep me warmer.  I’ve always wondered who this baby was, and where he is now, as in some way he helped me survive.  Could that explain my passion for all things Chinese? 🙂

2. Every year I buy one of these calendars and use it to log my exercises. I’ve kept my exercise records since January 1998, and each month for the past 15 years I strive to exercise more than 50% of the days.

3. I am a compulsive list-maker, not only because they make me more efficient, but because I have a thrill when all  items are checked-off.

4. I love to dance, and we started 2012 dancing our hearts out at a party in Maui.  Phil is the first partner I have who also likes to dance, until dating him, I was always by myself on the dance floor.

5.  My favorite animal is the elephant.   They are amazing creatures.

6.  My weaknesses:  cookbooks, earrings, and black dresses.   Cannot seem to have enough of them.

7.  I am the personification of a  honey badger in the golf course. All it takes is two bad shots in a row.  Corollarium: Phil is a saint.

The award also requires that you nominate 15 other bloggers…  Well, I am bailing out of that part, and instead I invite any blogger who would like to reveal 7 things about him/herself, to do so.

Thanks, Sharyn!  It was fun to think about what to “reveal”  here…  😉