Blood Orange Cranberry Granola

The best thing about making granola at home is making unusual combinations that are not typically found in the store, with the exact ratio of delectable goodness in each bite.

Orange-cranberry is not a rare find, but I made it extra special with my own ingredients.

Of course, this tastes even better with some homemade almond-cashew milk.

The best part about this is all ingredients were purchased in bulk bins at my nearest grocery store. I realize I am fortunate to not have to change many of my pre-zero waste habits due to the fact that the place where I was already shopping in bulk is where I can continue to shop in bulk. I just now do it with cloth bags and am more conscientious of impulse purchasing plastic-covered items.

To make blood orange cranberry granola you’ll want:

  • Rolled oats
  • Sunflower seeds (I used toasted)
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut flakes
  • Dried cranberries
  • Hemp seeds
  • Maple syrup
  • Blood-orange infused olive oil + coconut or other oil

The method:

  • Add mostly oats to a bowl, then top it with other dry ingredients in ratios you prefer. Use up any lingering seeds / nuts you may have.
  • Pour in enough sweetener to your liking. I love the flavor of maple syrup, but understand if you do not.
  • Pour in / mix in oils. I have a yummy blood-orange infused olive oil I impulse purchased that also tastes amazing and I don’t regret. ūüôā Don’t hesitate to make sure there is enough oil in the mix. Mine will generally be quite wet, almost like making oatmeal cookies.
  • Leave out any fruits until after baking. Trust me, you don’t want blackened cranberries sticking to your teeth.
  • Set oven to 325F and spread the mix onto a large baking sheet. Stir as well as rotate the pan occasionally throughout the next 30 – 40 minutes, depending on how large your batch of granola is.
  • When done, let it cool before transferring to an airtight container.
  • Enjoy!

Peace and love,

Kristan

Simple Vegetable Stock

When I first read about saving vegetable pieces to make a stock, I thought it was a great idea and decided to try it out. I started by keeping a ziplock bag in my freezer with a few vegetable ends or peels. Then I forgot about it for many, many months. That bag haunted me when I would find it in the freezer after doing some deep digging. I finally did fill up the bag and made my first vegetable stock from scratch. It was so easy and cool! However, it wasn’t easy to remember to start a new pile in the freezer. Flash forward a few years into being a home cook, and I’m much¬†much¬†better about remembering to save any aromatics for a future stock. There is usually a glass jar keeping the odds and ends contained, and it doesn’t take too long to fill up considering I eat most of my food at home. Currently I am using a plate to pile items onto and am not too worried about keeping it covered. I was having issues with my glass jars filling up too fast or not accommodating the odd leek top very well.

There is probably an official formula for this, but I will never follow that. There are some general guidelines about which vegetables are the best to use, and those are the ones I choose to keep for future stocks. Onions, celery, carrots, cilantro and parsley stems, herb stems, and mushroom stems are all my favorites. I often use my onion ends for flavoring a pot of beans, so it can take a while to have enough onions to make stock. I used approximately 4 cups of very loosely packed vegetables for this version.

I use my largest pot (aka stock pot) and just fill it up with water and all my frozen vegetable ends. I leave some room for simmering and bubbles. Then I just turn the heat up all the way until it reaches a boil, then turn it down to simmer for about 40 minutes. during the simmering, I add a fair amount of salt, about 2 Tablespoons.

Here I used sea salt from the bulk bins at WinCo and stored in a vintage Ball jar.

You can see the stock is turning a rich brown color and the vegetables really lose any vibrancy they once had.

I use a slotted spoon to scoop as much as I can into a colander, and compost those veggies. I let it drain for maybe an hour while the stock cools as well.

Here is the stock, looking rich, and smelling delicious.

It perfectly filled 3 quart size jars, which I am careful to not fill all the way up so they can be placed in the freezer for future use. They really did not break in the freezer, I promise.

It’s honestly one of the easiest things to make, barely requiring a stir. I will use this with soup, risotto, and maybe rice. Now if I can find package free rice noodles, I will write up how I make vegan ph√≤ chay.

Peace and love,

Kristan

Homemade Feta Cheese sans Rennet

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I’ve made feta before and talked about it and how salty it was. It was basically a still-edible soft extra salty cheese. Not a¬†complete¬†disaster, but close.

The recipe I used can be found here. However, there are some quite unusual things in the recipe that I can see why my previous attempt did not work.

Here is what I did:

I used cow’s milk. I don’t know why feta is seen as a cheese that must be made from other animal’s milk, but I like it best with cow’s milk.

I used less than a gallon because that is what I had. I used approximately 3/4 of a gallon.

  • Heat up the milk + yogurt slowly, constantly stirring to prevent scalding.
  • The temperature should reach past 180F, not 86F. That’s one strange thing I noticed.
  • I continuously heated the milk + yogurt, brought it to boiling, then would promptly turn off the heat (I have a gas range) to prevent spilling over the top of the pot for about 10 – 12 minutes. I was using my largest pot and the milk didn’t even come to halfway up the sides before heating.
  • Turn the heat off for the final time, leaving the pot in place on the hot burner. Slowly add 3 Tablespoons each of fresh lemon juice and white vinegar.
  • Let the mixture set for a few minutes without touching it.
  • Drag the spoon through the mixture and you should start to see curds and whey separate. I did, but if you do not, bring the mixture to a boil for a few more minutes.
  • Once curds and whey are separated, add in some salt. I used 1 & 1/2 teaspoons.
  • When my pot cooled down to a temperature that would not burn me or my wool blanket, I wrapped said pot in said wool blanket and set to the side of my kitchen for about 8 hours. It wasn’t overnight, as I had started this in the morning.

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  • After the time has passed, stir the contents, noticing the curds and whey.
  • Line a strainer with cheesecloth, and have a bowl to catch the whey.
  • Pour contents into cheesecloth, then tie up cheesecloth, squeeze a bit, then hang up over a pot to strain some more for 2 – 4 hours, or until no more whey drips out.
  • Use a strainer again to get the final shaping and firmness. I just took down the dripping bag of feta, placed it into a smaller colander, and placed my heavy, filled klean kanteen on top of it. Remember to keep a bowl under the strainer for any extra whey.
  • Prepare the brine: I used the leftover whey and added 1/8 cup (2 Tablespoons) of salt. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of salt added to the brine, but this is what ruined my cheese last time. It might not taste too salty with 2 Tablespoons, but the next day, I could tell it was pretty much the perfect amount. Place brine into a clean glass jar and place into the refrigerator.
  • After cheese has been strained for another 8 hours, remove cheesecloth and place into brine. Store this for 3 days before use for proper taste and texture.

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I am so glad I tried this recipe again. Next time, I will try to strain it the second time around for even longer, or use heavier items to get that nice firm texture. Mine is still quite soft, but it is very close to the feta I had while working at a hostel in Greece.

Peace and love,

Kristan