Monday, August 3, 2009

I have a list.

Ok, a lot of lists. I'm sort of a List Person, if you don't already know that about me.

But the particular list I'm talking about contains food items that I currently buy in a processed, prepackaged state and that I want to start making from scratch.

I've already checked a number of items off that list.

To start with, there were the pickles. Actually, I'm not sure I've ever purchased a jar of commercially produced pickles, and I owe that to the maternal side of my extended family. If there's one thing the Charrier women know well, it's the mass-production of food. Let's just say that this summer we decided to take it easy and make only a small batch, so we cut ourselves down to a single bushel of cucumbers.

(Sadly, I'll be missing the pickle project this year because it's happening on a Tuesday. A Tuesday when I have a work function in the evening. The kind of work function where it would be inappropriate to arrive reeking of brine.)

Over the past year or so I've slowly started pulling processed foods from my daily routine and replacing them with delicious, homemade goodies.

Before work, I always start the day with a bowl of yogurt with berries and/or granola. I had been buying box after box of granola from the grocery store, but now I bake it on my own and store it in a tub in the freezer. (There's a pan of maple-coconut granola cooling on my counter right now, and my apartment smells incredible.)

Then around 10 o'clock, I've usually made my way through the Thermos of coffee that I bring from home, and I want some food to take the edge off the caffeine buzz and to push me through to lunch. My answer used to be a store bought cereal bar, but these days I always pack a slice of quick bread or a muffin that I've pulled together using surplus produce. Overripe bananas, rhubarb from my parents' garden, summer squash or zucchini from my CSA box--these things all bake into a typical and tasty midmorning snack at the office. To make these baked treats a little healthier, I usually cut the quantity of butter by half and replace it with apple sauce or canola oil--which also lets me cut down the amount of sugar. Then I replace at least half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour.

And whether it's at lunch or dinner, I usually have a mixed greens salad with at least one meal a day, and now I dress them with small batches of vinaigrette that I keep in a jar on the refrigerator door.

So what else is on the list?


To name a few...

Maple-Coconut Granola
Adapted from Gourmet, via

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1 cup oat bran
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in the middle.

Stir together oil, syrup, oat bran, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add oats and stir until they're thoroughly coated with the syrup mixture. Stir in coconut.

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread the oat mixture evenly over the pan. Bake for 10 minutes and then stir. Continue to bake, checking and stirring every two or three minutes until granola is golden brown. This will probably take another 10-15 minutes.

Once cool, granola frozen in an airtight container will keep about a month.


  1. I have lots of good bread recipes if you want any of them. It certainly doesn't last very long, but we have little loaf pans that you can make several little loaves and freeze the others. I've heard homemade ketchup isn't very good...but maybe there are some good recipes out there. And I think crackers are relatively easy...but haven't tried them. Baking bread and knitting are my fall/winter/spring activities. peace, megan

  2. Definitely send the bread recipes! I've baked crackers before, but only cheddar crisps that should NOT be my regular keep-around-the-house crackers because they're made entirely of cheese, butter, and flour. This weekend I'll be making some rosemary and olive oil crackers that look promising.

  3. I think you are my new hero. I want some of that granola!!!! YUM