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i great you on this most presidential of federal holidays from snowy detroit. snow-magedon 2011, the disappointment that it was, has quickly been replaced by presidential snow storm 2011, where a blissful, yet heavy snow graced our dear city last evening. enthusiastically, i embraced the snow (which came so aptly to re-freeze our springtime hopes after a mid-week winter hiatus with 50 degree weather), taking my sign from mother nature that i was not meant to go into work today. instead, i’ve romped through the snow with some lovely neighbors, attempted to make strides in some knitting projects (hoping to get them done before the sweet warmth of spring sun arrives), and made a giant chocolate chip dried fruit sunflower seed cookie.

one large cookie

it’s been a crazy couple of weeks. my parents traversed to the motor city last weekend, and i had the great pleasure of sharing them with good friends and showing them some of my favorite spots (eastern market, supino’s pizza, foran’s grand trunk, the detroit zen center). following their friday/saturday visit, i moved from my cozy Villages neighborhood (my home for all my time in Detroit!) to Corktown, the oldest neighborhood in detroit. thank goodness i made the move pre-snow-extravaganza!

view from the sunset window

thankfully, my new home comes with a most amazing feature: the sunset window!

pre-baked goodness

so, following the week of general craze, this monday i am very happy to have a day off work and a day to officially break in my brand new cast iron skillet. nothing like butter and sugar to break that baby in.

i must say, i am quite pleased with the results. my roommate and i happily tasted a slice (mine was rather large) and determined that cast iron + chocolate chip (etc) cookies = satisfyingly delicious texture, flavor, and the like. you should make your batch today!

skillet chocolate chip (etc) cookies

adapted from heidi swanson’s 101 cookbooks

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup mix of oats, ground flax, and ground sesame seed
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
heavy sprinkle of cinnamon
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mixed semi-sweet chocolate chips, toasted sunflower seeds, and dried blueberries/cranberries/cherries/raisins
a hungry stomach (!)

1. preheat oven to 350. butter a large cast iron skillet.

2. combine dry ingredients (flour through cinnamon) in a bowl, whisk to combine.

3. in a standing mixer, combine butter, sugar, and molasses on slow speed for about 2 minutes, till fully combined. add an egg at a time, then vanilla, mixing till smoothly incorporated. then add dry ingredients, mixing until just combined, can still look a bit floury. here, add most of the chocolate chips/sunflower seeds/dried fruit, and gently combine.

4. spread this mixture in the buttered skillet, top with remaining chocolate chips/sunflower seeds/dried fruit. bake for 35-45 minutes, till brown around the edges and center is mostly set.

enjoy! with a giant, soft, freshly baked cookie to share, i wish a very merry president’s day to you and yours.

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the savory crunch

happy snow-magedon 2011! while detroit sadly missed much of the blizzardy excitement predicted, i must admit, this day “off” enjoying the snow, a warm fire, and the general amusement of an over-hyped, missed winter catastrophe has kept me quite satisfied. there is nothing quite like snuggling up to “personal finance for dummies” while listening to my neighbors chirp and bellow as they socially shovel the snow… and nothing like said activities to motivate me to share this epiphany of epiphanies with you: savory granola!

before honey-ing

what?! you say. how have i not thought of that?! well, friends, that is the precise response i had when reading saveur issue #135 for jan/feb 2011. mind you, i read the majority of this magazine while furiously ellipticalling… funny how food magazines motivate my exercise routines… regardless! i stumbled across this page and new instantly that this article on savory granola was meant for my eyes only. DUH! i exclaimed to myself! that’s GENIUS!

the beets, peeled and ready

of course, i did not follow the recipe exactly, but closely; mine transformed to take on a sort of mexican essence. i used parsley instead of basil, pepitas for pine nuts, flax seeds for basil seeds, paprika for piment d’espelette, and i added oats. i did pair it beautifully with deep magenta, gorgeous beets from the lovely folks at holtz farms. the beets, the granola, and the globs of zingerman’s soft cow cheese (i think that’s the cheese, i know it was zingerman’s, but my housemate bought it, so i am going on a gut feeling on this one!), my goodness, the dish was not only delicious but delightful to see!

oh, sweet gems of earthy delight!

served as the first course in the meal featuring the roasted poblano sauce that changed my world (i realize how dramatic my writing is regarding food. i suppose hyperbole + food = happy gwen!), the event  was quickly on its way to become a satiating experience for all.

plated and ready for cheese

savory granola
adapted from provençal granola by chef daniel humm of eleven madison park, nyc, issue #135 saveur magazine

1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup parsley leaves
2 cups puffed rice
1 cup pepitas
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons flax seeds
2 teaspoons paprika
salt, to taste
1/4-1/2 cup oats, old-fashioned
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup michigan honey

1. heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. add parsley leaves in batches, fry until crisp, about 10 seconds. transfer to paper towel to drain and cool. add to a bowl with puffed rice, pepitas, parmesan, flax seeds, paprika, salt, garlic, and oats.

2. heat the oven to 250. heat honey in a small saucepan over medium heat until loose, then pour over the ingredients in the bowl, toss to coat. transfer onto a jelly roll sheet and spread out evenly.

3. bake, stirring occasionally, until toasted or golden brown, about 40 minutes. allow to cool completely in pan. store in tupperware for up to 2 weeks.

have fun adding this to salads, soups and the like! where do you think you’ll use savory granola in your cooking and baking adventures? enjoy!