I think I’ve mentioned my love for cookbooks here before, but just in case I hadn’t, I’m saying it now.  I love cookbooks.  Especially those that are well written with beautiful photography.  There is little I love more than settling in with a cup of tea and a cookbook, new or old, reading over the lists of ingredients and taking in the pictures.

A couple of weeks ago I picked up ‘Good to the Grain’ by Kim Boyce.  I kept reading about it on various food blogs and was curious to find out what all the talk was about. It is a beautifully written cookbook with photography to match.

When I get a new cookbook I’ll often sit and make a list of recipes that catch my eye first.  This recipe for Maple Pecan Granola was at the top of that list.  I love a good granola, and have shared here the one I most often make.  The ingredient list for this granola is short and the process is quite easy.  You’d never know by the layers of flavor you get in the end.

Maple Pecan Granola

from ‘Good to the Grain’


Dry Mix:

2 cups pecan halves

3 cups old fashioned oats (the recipe also suggests trying barley or rye flakes)

2 cups unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup wheat bran

Syrup:

1 cup maple syrup

1/2 stick butter, cut into small pieces

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups dried fruit such as blueberries or cranberries

Heat your oven to 325 degrees.  Spread the pecans onto the baking sheet and toast for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through, until toasty and golden brown.

Butter rimmed baking sheets or one large roasting pan (I skipped this step because I used nonstick baking sheets.  The granola came off fine.)

Measure oats, coconut, wheat bran and toasted pecans into a large bowl and toss them together.  Squeeze the pecans to break some into small pieces.

To make the syrup, measure the maple syrup into a small saucepan.  Place it over medium high heat for 7-10 minutes to reduce the syrup to 3/4 cup.  It’s fine to have slightly more than 3/4 cup, but do not let it go below that amount or the granola will lose it’s gloss.  After measuring, pour the reduced syrup back into the pot and add the butter and salt.  Swirl the syrup until it melts.

As soon as the syrup is done, immediately pour it over the oat mixture, making sure to use the spatula to scrape every last bit out. Use the spatula to combine.  This means going over and over tossing and scraping to make sure the syrup has coated every bit of the dry ingredients.

Scrape the granola evenly over the prepared baking sheets, spreading it evenly.

Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove the sheets from the oven and scrape the outer edges of the granola toward the center and the center out to the edges.  Repeat this two more times for a total of 30 minutes.

Allow the granola to cool thoroughly on the sheets; this allows the clumps to form.  Once the granola has cooled stir in the dried fruit if you are using it.

As spring rolls around I start looking for a lighter option for breakfast, other than my usual bowl of oatmeal, this granola completely fit the bill.  I’ve been eating it mixed with a bowl of fresh fruit and it’s been a great, light breakfast to start the day.

This granola is also a great snack post workout or in the afternoon when you just need a handful of something to get you through until supper.

Alison

 

We had a fun, crazy weekend.  Soccer and baseball are on the map for every Saturday from now til the end of June.  Throw in a basement improvement project, some yard work, time with family and friends and before we knew it, it was Sunday afternoon.

We had a little down time before heading to baseball practice.  I had just sunk into my favorite chair, and was closing my eyes when Henry came walking up dressed in his superhero gear.  Climbing onto my lap he said, “Mom, do you think we could take some pictures in my cape?  Just you and me?”

Now? I asked him.  He nodded enthusiastically, as a charming smile spread across his freckled cheeks.  As much as I love time with the camera and my boys I was not excited to get out of my chair.  All kinds of reasons popped into my head as to why I should say no.

Instead, I said yes.

With an excited “WooHoo!” from Henry I grabbed my camera as we flew out the door and made the quick drive to our small downtown area.

On Sunday afternoon it’s pretty quite around town so we easily found a good spot and started shooting.  Henry knew exactly what he wanted to do for his pictures and didn’t hesitate to tell me.  The more I snapped away, laughing and soaking up my third child the more I felt myself energized.  The tiredness I’d been feeling just melted away.  This was what I needed far more than 20 minutes sitting in a chair, zoning out to the TV.

This was life.  Blue sky, wind in my hair, photographing my 5 year old superhero.  It could not have been better.

I am so thankful for afternoons like this to remind me to get out of my chair, even when it’s hard.  I always find that I regret it when I don’t.

As we loaded back into the car to head home I asked Henry what kind of superhero he was, what was his superhero name?  In a matter of fact voice he answered, “Mom, I’m not a superhero.  I’m just Henry David and that makes me super.”

Very smart boy.

“If you’re quiet, you’re not living.  You’ve got to be noisy and colorful and lively.”

~Mel Brooks

Have a colorful and noisy Tuesday!

Alison

Come spring I get the itch to freshen up my house.  One of the easiest ways I know to do this is by changing up the pictures on our walls.  It’s no secret that I take a lot of pictures, truthfully I could probably wallpaper the house with all the pictures we have.  Instead I like to find fun, creative ways to display them.  To me, nothing says “home” more than having our walls bear the faces and artwork of the people that live within them.

I thought I would share some of the ways I display pictures around our house.  Maybe it will spark an idea for you to freshen up your walls this spring too.

This is our entry, above the shelf I have 3 black & whites, each including all 3 boys.

Here is the living room…again with the boys.  We have tall, open walls in this room.  Don’t be afraid to go big with your images. If you have a big wall to fill, the pictures should be scale to fit.  Otherwise they will just look smaller and the wall will look even bigger.

The kitchen.  I have some of the kids artwork that I rotate through a frame by season (to the right of the pic board) as well as this large picture board.  It is two large canvases screwed together, then covered with quilt batting, fabric and ribbon.  Small clothes pins hold the pics in place.  What I love about having this board by the dinner table is that the pictures will often spark a memory for one of the boys, leading to some great dinner conversations.

This is Henry’s room.  He loves to display his art work and drawings.  I made this from a picture hanging kit that I bought at Target for $1.99.  The little clothes pins are from the craft store, using these his pictures don’t get torn by tape or punched with holes from pins.

He also has a picture board in his room to display and arrange all the pictures he wants to share.

I love to see what he chooses and how they get arranged.  It changes frequently.

Onto Samuel’s room.  Sam is pretty sentimental about…well everything.  I have to purge his room every couple of weeks to keep it from overflowing with all his treasures.  Above his desk we screwed in metal strips that we found at Home Depot.  He loves legos and building with tools so it seemed a good fit for his room and personality. He uses magnets to hold drawings and pictures in place.

Finally the master bedroom.  This has been my latest project, getting the wall put together over the bed.  I wanted a little bit of everything that I love…favorite images of the boys, my art and theirs.  It is united with a theme of yellow and use of similar frames.

Please feel free to share your walls and ideas in the comments, post links if you have them.  I’d love to hear your ideas!

I’m on Pinterest now…you can follow me here.  It’s very addictive…you’ve been warned!

Also, if your looking for breakfast ideas head on over to The Kitchn.  They are featuring 10 great ideas for breakfast, including my Peanut Butter Pancakes!

Have a great weekend!

Alison

 

 

 

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