Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Homemade Granola

Why make your own granola?  Making your own granola is EASY and more importantly, you determine the ingredients.  I keep hearing the mantra, ...our food today has all these "extra" ingredients added in,  could this be part of the reason we look heavier now than say 20 years ago?  I don't know for sure, but I do know, when you make something yourself you get to control the ingredient list. 
I have a friend that explained to me everything she puts into her smoothies has a purpose.  I decided to apply her logic to my homemade granola. 

Oats - high in fiber, lowers cholesterol, reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, stabilizes blood sugar, lowers type 2 diabetes risk and this is just the short list!
Nuts - sunflower seeds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds - vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory
Coconut - flavor enhancer, vitamins and minerals
Fresh or Dried Fruit of your choice - can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease & stroke, prevent some cancers and the list goes on
Ceylon Cinnamon - lowers blood sugar, antimicrobial properties and brain booster
Salt - flavor enhancer, you can control the amount
Orange Zest - flavor
Maple syrup and Butter - more flavor, but you could also use honey and oil.

In the end it has to taste good and homemade granola will make you smile!  My favorite breakfast is homemade granola sprinkled over Greek yogurt (protein booster).  Depending on my mood, I add different dried or fresh fruit right before I eat it.


adapted from "Super Natural Every Day" Heidi Swanson

4 cups organic Old Fashioned Oats
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup unsweetened shredded large flake coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon
grated zest of 2 oranges
4 oz. unsalted butter
6 oz. maple syrup
fresh or dried fruit of your choice (add right before serving)

1.  Preheat the oven to 300 F.  Position the racks on the top and bottom third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl combine oats, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, salt, cinnamon and orange zest.
3. In a small sauce pan melt the butter over low heat.  Remove from heat.  Whisk the maple syrup into the melted butter.  Pour the mixture over the oat mixture and combine well.  Stir until everything is well coated. 
4.  Divide the mixture onto the baking sheets.  Spreading it out to make a thin layer.
5.  Bake for 40 to 50 minutes.  (Stir and rotate pans after the first 25 minutes.)
6.  Granola should be a nice golden color.  Cool completely and store in an air tight container at room temperature.

makes 2 lbs.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Why Do I Blog?

I  started blogging almost five years ago.  I wanted to share my passion for cooking, food and WINE.  I am a curious person, ALWAYS on the search for something new to cook up.  Cooking for me is so much more than getting accolades for a tasty dinner.  It is my creative outlet, my zen time, it balances me and connects me to my garden, a farmers market, nature, art, culture - yes, food and wine is all that and more for me! Over the years ALWAYS RAVENOUS has become a collection, a hub where even I can locate my favorite recipes.  ALWAYS RAVENOUS is shaped by what I read, trends, whether culinary or health driven, travel, memories - again the list goes on.
So why do I blog?  Because food and wine are ALWAYS on my mind.  Because I want to try that new recipe or taste that bottle of wine.  Blogging keeps me on a quest to learn and discover more and then, share that excitement and joy.
Right now my focus is WINE.  When I started my Pinot Noir project, which I really started as a food and wine pairing "focus", I stumbled across the book I am currently reading "The New California Wine" by Jon Bonne.  Reading this book is taking me down another path for a desire to learn more about wine.  The "new" California winemakers are all about terroir and what a grape varietal can, and should taste like.
I recently tasted 2 (actually 3) Russian River Pinot Noirs that were to be my "crown jewels" from that region.  Paul Hobbs 2010 & 2011 and Merry Edwards 2008. Paul Hobbs Winery  Merry Edwards Winery  All these Pinot Noirs I enjoyed, even though I struggled to find "the perfect" food pairing to complete the experience.  The Paul Hobbs Pinot Noirs I had with my Thanksgiving dinner and the Merry Edwards with a birthday celebration of garlicky chicken, Moroccan couscous and a goat cheese salad.
The flavors and wine notes adhere to the typical Pinot Noir flavor profiles, The Wine Aroma Wheel. The wines from my perspective were well made, nicely balanced with that alluring finish that makes you smile. But the more Pinot Noirs I taste I realize, I want to go to the next level of interpreting what I am tasting.  So to get to the next level I am becoming a student again.  First adding to my reading list and joining a local chapter of the American Wine Society to taste more, learn more and come back here to share what I discover. Cheers to good wine and food and ALWAYS with good company! 
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Friday, November 22, 2013

Cheers It's Friday ~ Drinking Pinot Noir and Thinking Thanksgiving

Cheer It's Friday with a glass of Sonoma Cutrer Pinot Noir in one hand and a notebook in the other hand planning my Thanksgiving feast.

The Wine:
2010 Sonoma Cutrer Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley
Sonoma County

My Tasting Notes:
A smooth concentration of plum with some earthy notes.  Perfectly balanced elegant wine.  My favorite so far along the Russian River Valley of Pinot Noirs.
Alcohol 14.5%

After tasting this Pinot Noir, I will be running to the store to buy more Sonoma Cutrer 2010 Pinot Noir for my Thanksgiving dinner.  This wine will be a nice pairing with my sage rubbed turkey, cornbread chestnut stuffing and a new addition, roasted kabocha squash.  Somehow I am late to the kabocha squash party trend....until now.  Kabosha squash has been popping up in recent cookbooks, food magazines, restaurants, and most recently on my "Panna" iPhone app.  Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton of the Canal House prepare roasted kabocha squash via video on Panna - it is awesome, I highly recommend this app.  I adapted their recipe to make it a little more wine friendly, leaving out the lemon and adding some pomegranate seeds.

Roasted Kabocha Squash with Pomegranate Seeds
adapted from Panna - The Canal House
1 large Kabocha Squash
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Pomegranate seeds
1 Small Bunch Parsley, chopped
Salt and Pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 F.  Cut the squash in half down the equator side (not through the stem side).  Scoop out seeds and discard. Cut squash halves into quarters.
2.  Place squash on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Drizzle olive oil over the squash quarters.  With your hands coat the squash with the oil.  Salt and pepper each quarter.  Roast for one hour.
3.  While the squash is roasting, cut the pomegranate in half and submerge one half in a bowl of cold water.  Peel the seeds out from the white pithy part while holding the pomegranate under the water, this will eliminate pomegranate juice from squirting everywhere.  The seeds will sink to the bottom and the white pith will float to the top.  Repeat with the other half and then strain the seeds.
4.  When the squash is done, drizzle a little olive oil over the roasted squash and top with pomegranate seeds and parsley.

I guess Cheers It's Friday is just a primer for the big turkey just 6 days!
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Favorite New Cookbooks Fall 2013

Food Bloggers love cookbooks, we read them like a good novel.  Fall is prime time for new cookbooks to released.  I was reading one of my favorite blogs over the weekend, Pinch My Salt, and she reviewed her latest cookbook couch reads.  Just like Nicole of Pinch my Salt, I too take a stack of cookbooks with coffee and notebook in hand to the couch and plot out menus and new recipes to try, not to mention taking in a dose of inspiration and relaxation. 
Just to add to the Food Blogger list of new favorite cookbooks, here is my most recent list of favorites. 


"The A.O.C Cookbook" by Suzanne Goin
This cookbook was the one I was waiting for with great anticipation.  I have cooked through and been inspired by her previous book "Sunday Suppers at Lucques."  A.O.C. is a cookbook that I will go to for more inspiring and great tasting menus.  The section on salads has already influenced and challenged me to create a new Thanksgiving salad.  Stay tune. Another great feature is the wine pairing notes for each recipe by Caroline Styne, business partner to Suzanne Goin and wine director for the restaurant group.

"Keepers" by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion
This book I discovered through Twitter, I can't remember who tweeted about it, but as the title implies recipes worth keeping.  It is a great collection of tasty time efficient recipes for busy week night cooking. 

"Feel Good Food" by Giada De Laurentiis
I bought this cookbook last Friday and started cooking and baking and simply loving it and yes feeling good!  Giada's food is the kind I crave and her recipes are straight forward, my family loves them, and they don't create a huge kitchen clean up.   

"The Art of Simple Food II" by Alice Waters
Alice's first "Art of Simply Food" cookbook is my indispensable go to cookbook for dinner ideas with flavor that never disappoint.  "Art of Simply Food II"  will get me back into the garden and focused on the seasonal foods.  I have always been a believer in the kitchen garden. Herbs are a main stay in my garden year round and thank goodness for farmers markets and local CSAs. Vegetables with Alice are never boring! Pin It

Friday, November 1, 2013

Cheers It's Friday - Cheese Platter

Cheers It's Friday!  And it's time to lean into the weekend with a glass of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and an array of cheeses.  A cheese platter is one of my favorite ways to enjoy a glass of wine and ease into the weekend ahead.   It is pretty well understood I love wine, but cheese is yet another passion.  Growing up in Wisconsin, cheese ruled and proudly so (think cheese heads).  Thanks to my father who worked in the cheese industry, I grew up eating extra sharp cheddar;  the taste for aged full flavored cheese was firmly developed at a young age.  (This was the 1960's & 70's, the neighbors were eating Velveeta!)  Later when I moved to Germany, cheese was also center stage in the culture and my life.  Raclette and fondue were easy ways to entertain.  And stinky cheeses, it seemed every car ride home from the grocery store was filled with an aroma of a strong stinky cheese - Limburger was often the culprit.  Hiking in the Alps often led us to a farm that was open for small plate offerings of fresh farm cheese topped with herbs served on hearty German bread.  Moving to Northern California a world of artisan cheese makers opened up to me, my favorite to this day is Laura Chenel's goat cheeses.  Present day Georgia I encounter the artisan cheese makers at local farmers markets and the grocery store selection now a days can be staggering.

The Wine:
2011 La Crema Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley
Sonoma County

My Tasting Notes:
Mushroom earthiness opens up to warm spiciness with flavors of cherry and cola.  Slight oak and nicely balanced acidity.
Alcohol 14.5%

General considerations when pairing cheese and wine.  Cheeses from a particular region often pair well with the local wine produced in that area.  Lighter, fresher and higher acidity wines pair better with younger, fresher cheeses.  Fuller body wines pair better with bolder flavored cheeses.  My additional strategy for selecting the cheeses to pair with the La Crema Pinot Noir were to find common flavors -  earthy and mushroom, the medium body of the wine to a semi soft to semi hard cheese.  Finally, a few well known favorites with a few new discoveries, always on an adventure to try something new!

My Cheese Platter~ And Tasting Notes

 Fromage d' Affinois Plain
     France- Rhone Alps
     Cow Milk
Tasting Notes:  Rich and Buttery.  With the first taste I knew I was going to enjoy this exercise.  The creaminess of the cheese gave way to a caramel flavor, I really liked this cheese with the wine.
Humboldt Fog
     Goat Milk
     Semi Soft
Tasting Notes:  Tangy and earthy.  As a stand alone cheese, this is my favorite on the cheese platter.  It was a neutral pairing with the wine, but both deliciously so.
     Cow Milk
     Semi Hard
Tasting Notes:  The Swiss cousin to French Comte, a cheese produced in the Burgundy region of France.  This cheese is a natural regional pairing to Pinot Noir.  (Unfortunately I could not find a Comte so I selected Gruyere as a stand in).  The nutty flavors of the cheese were enhanced with the wine and a mellow creaminess.
Gabietou Herve Mons
     France- French Pyrenees
     Cow and Sheep Milk
     Semi Soft
Tasting Notes:  Rich with an earthiness.  The combination of cow and sheep milk made this an interesting pairing of complexity.  It was the pairing I kept going back to and realized each time it was improving.
     Sheep, Cow and Goat Milk
     Semi Hard
Tasting Notes:  Pungent and sharp.  This cheese was not a good pairing with the wine.  Maybe a New Glarus beer would be a better pairing.

A few extras that I added to my cheese platter.  My favorite cracker Savory 34 - Rosemary.  These crackers are thin and light with just a hint of rosemary flavor.  In addition some savory breads from "Salad as a Meal" by Patricia Wells.

 Also of note the Slate Cheese Platter from Crate and Barrel, easy to label your ever changing cheese platter selections. And finally, Cheese Knives, I realized you can never have too many.  My sister has a shoebox full - I am so jealous!!

Cheers It's Friday and the Pinot Noir journey along the Russian River Valley continues!
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Friday, October 4, 2013

Cheers It's Friday with a Glass Of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Cheers It's Friday!  I am consumed with Pinot Noir.  I recently did a google search, "what's better Carneros or Russian River Valley Pinot Noir?"  That search pointed me to Steve Heimoff's blog (, which led me to reminisce about my days living in Healdsburg along the Russian River, which led me to read "A Wine Journey Along the Russian River," by Steve Heimoff.  All this leads me to my new Pinot Noir tasting project.  My "Pinot Project" will be a tasting of Pinot Noirs from highly regarded areas in California:  Russian River Valley, Carneros, Sonoma Coast, Santa Barbara, and Monterey, Oregon:  Willamette Valley, New Zealand, Chile, and of course Burgundy.
I kept googling, next "Pinot Noir food and wine pairings."  I landed on "Food and Wine Magazine's" website and discovered some great ideas.  I was already to make vegan enchiladas described on the site, however, like the Russian River takes a sharp turn in Healdsburg to the west, I too took a sharp adaptation and made Buckwheat Crepes with butternut squash (sweet compliment to the fruit in a Pinot Noir), shiitake mushrooms (earthy and smoky), roasted chicken, kale, and Gruyere cheese (Comet, a French Gruyere).

Next, I cruised the Pinot Noir shelves at my local Kroger grocery store, their prices can be competitive and the selection is not bad.  I came across a 2010 Mac Murray Russian River Valley, the price was marked down to $16.  I remembered "The Wine Spectator" had rated the Sonoma 2010 vintage a 94 (outstanding).  I also knew I wanted to start my Pinot Noir tasting project with Russian River Valley.

2010 Mac Murray Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley
Sonoma County 

Price: $16
My Tasting Notes:  Hints of cherry and currants, balanced acidity with subtle oak and a silky smooth finish.  Alcohol 13.8%
My Food Pairing:  Buckwheat Crepes filled with butternut squash, shiitake mushrooms, roasted chicken, kale and Gruyere cheese.
Buckwheat Crepes
adapted from "The Art Of Simple Food" Alice Waters

2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 eggs
1/2 cup dark lager beer

1.  In a small sauce pan combine milk, salt, sugar and butter.  Warm over medium low heat until the butter is melted, remove from heat and cool.
2.  In a medium bowl mix all purpose and buckwheat flour together.  Make a well in the center and add canola oil and eggs.  Stir until mixture is smooth and lump free.  Add milk mixture to the flour slowly and whisk until smooth.  If batter still has lumps, strain and then whisk in beer.  Refrigerate overnight.
3.  Take batter out of refrigerator one hour before making the crepes.  Heat an 8 inch steel crepe pan or nonstick frying pan over medium high heat.  Coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of canola oil, warm until it just smokes.  Pour out any extra oil.
4.  Use a small ladle about 2 tablespoons capacity.  Pour batter into pan, working quickly, swirl the batter around to evenly coat the pan.  Cook about 45 seconds and then flip (I use a rubber spatula and my fingers).  Cook other side for about 45 seconds.  Crepes should be a nice golden color (try one to see if they are done).  The first few usually are not perfect.
Crepes can be stacked on top of each other and remain at room temperature for a few hours.

Crepe Filling
adapted from "Food and Wine Magazine's" website for Vegan Enchiladas

2 cups butternut squash, 1/2 inch dice
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 shallots, minced
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cups cooked roasted chicken meat, 3/4 inch cubed
2 cups kale, thinly sliced
1 cup Gruyere, shredded
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  On the baking sheet, toss butternut squash with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast 15-20 minutes until tender.
2.  Meanwhile in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and saute onions and shallots over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and saute for another 6 minutes.  Add kale and cook until wilted.  Add butternut squash and chicken and toss, mixing all the ingredients together.

To Assemble and Warm Crepes
1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.  Lay a crepe flat.  Put 2-3 tablespoons filling down the center, top with a little shredded Gruyere.  Roll up the crepe and place on the lined baking sheet seam side down.  Repeat with the rest of the crepes.
3.  Top crepes with some Gruyere and bake for about 10 minutes or until cheese on top is melted.

Note:  I keep leftover crepes and filling separate and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Cheers to Fridays in Fall and more Pinot Noir!

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Spelt Flour Honey Cakes

…whether child or adult, summer always goes by too quickly

This summer I joined my local garden club (I find gardening in Georgia a mountainous challenge and need all the advice I can come by), got back into yoga (after minor foot surgery- dropping a 28 oz. can of tomatoes on my foot caught up to me), I joined a CSA (community supported agriculture), and did some summer reading.
So, what have I learned (so far), Garden club- fertilize, use lots of liquid deer fence and this summer has been unusually WET, a.k.a. we have lots of BUGS. Yoga- what my body, mind and spirit crave! And what I need to grow old with flexibility. CSA- three weeks into my weekly produce pick up and the rhythm of the Georgia garden is very different from my beloved farmers markets in California.  That said, I am learning how to use collard greens, kale, mustard greens and my new one this week, broccoli greens.  I know all these greens are healthy, but truth be told, I miss my arugula and field greens.  Oh did I mention Okra?  My farmer tells me we should have a healthy supply through November.  (So far, my favorite way with okra is NO NOT FRIED, but sautéed with some Indian spices or…a spicy pickling!).  My summer reading revolved around books that took me down a path to a diet focused on vegetables and fruits and less on animal base foods.
"Eat to Live” by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. was my eureka book of the summer.  The book emphasizes nutrition as medicine, eating a nutrient dense diet for a healthy self and a better way of life.  “Eat to Live” led me to my next summer read, “Whole” by T. Colin Campbell PhD and Howard Jacobson PhD – “Whole” explains why eating a whole food plant based diet is the best diet for optimal health. 
Now I am re- energized and motivated to eat a more whole food plant based diet.  Not only joining a CSA, but also investigating local farmers markets – again!  I recently discovered a great quote on the Dunwoody farmer’s market website.
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” – Ann Wigmore
 a whole food plant based diet all the sudden seemed everywhere….
It was in Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook that I was introduced to spelt flour.  I made Gwyneth’s spelt flour banana walnut muffins. Another eureka, they tasted delicious!  The spelt flour gave the muffins a complex nutty wholesome flavor not to mention nutritional benefits. (for nutritional details and search spelt flour).
I have started substituting spelt flour for recipes calling for all purpose flour. 
With some local honey from my CSA, and in honor and celebration of Rosh Hashanah, I made Honey Cakes with spelt flour. 

Honey Almond Cakes
Adapted from “Butter Sugar Flour Eggs”

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup organic light brown sugar, packed
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons local honey
½ cup almonds, sliced and toasted
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

1.      Preheat oven to 350 F
2.      Generously butter 3- 2 cup mini bread loaf pans
3.      Drizzle one tablespoon of melted butter in each loaf pan, swirl to coat the bottom.  Sprinkle 2 heaping tablespoons of brown sugar in each pan. Then drizzle 1 tablespoon of honey in each pan. Evenly divide toasted almonds between the three pans and sprinkle them evenly over the bottom.
4.      In a large bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the egg and add remaining ¾ cup brown sugar, mix.  Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and ½ cup of honey, mix.  Slowly add the buttermilk.
5.      In a separate large bowl mix together spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
6.      Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and blend until smooth.
7.      Divide batter between the 3 loaf pans.
8.      Bake for 30-40 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
9.      Cool cakes in pan for 5 minutes and turn them out on to a cooling rack. 

Wishing you sweet beginnings!
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