Granola

I haven’t made granola in ages. This particular recipe is a little sweeter than what I usually make. I was hoping the sweetness would entice my kids to eat it. They both turned their noses up at it and refused to even try it. Oh well. I liked the granola. It tastes good. You can add different nuts, seeds, and dried fruits to suit your taste.

Granola

4 cups rolled (old-fashioned) oats (not quick cooking)
1 cup oat bran (or wheat germ)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup flaked coconut

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup dried fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine oats, oat bran, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, chopped pecans, and flaked coconut in a large bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and pour the hot liquid mixture over the dry ingredients. Stir until evenly coated. Spread the mixture out onto a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden, stirring every 10 minutes. Let the granola cool and then add the dried fruit, if using. Store the granola in an air-tight container.


Pickled Okra

I love okra. I especially love pickled okra. A jar of pickled okra in the grocery store can run about $4, so canning my own is definitely the way to go. One of the best things about living in South Carolina is access to fresh okra. Last Friday, a friend and I went to the State Farmers’ Market. I picked up a basket of fresh, small okra pods for $4.They were perfect for pickling. Canning is an easy and thrifty way to save summer produce for use other times of the year.

Pickled Okra

6 pounds fresh, small okra pods, washed and ends trimmed

3 cups vinegar
3 cups water
1/3 cup salt (not iodized) – I used Kosher salt

6 cloves garlic, peeled
6 tsp. dill seeds
6 dried chile peppers (optional) – I used chile flakes (about 1/2 tsp. per jar)

6 pint size mason jars with bands and new lids
large canning pot

also useful:
jar grabber
lid lifter
jar funnel

Fill a large canning pot with water and bring to a boil. You will need enough water so that the upright jars will be covered by an inch of water or so. Add the clean glass mason jars, bands, and lids to the water and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. Remove the jars and lids from the boiling water and place on paper towels to drain. Let the water continue to boil so it will be ready to process the filled jars.

Bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a boil in a large pan. Turn off the heat.

Place 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon dill seeds, and 1 dried chile (if using) in each sterile jar and then pack tightly with okra pods. Leave about 1/2 inch of space from the top of the jar. Repeat with all 6 jars. Pour hot pickling solution over the okra in each jar, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch of space from the top of the jar. Insert a clean knife around the inside of the jar to release air bubbles. Add more pickling solution if needed. Wipe the edges of the jars with a clean paper towel and place lids and bands on each jar. Tighten the bands, but do not over-tighten.

Carefully place each filled jar in the boiling water in the canning pot. Place the lid on the pot and boil for 10 minutes. Processing time increases with higher altitude and larger size jars.

After 10 minutes, remove jars from the water and let cool on a towel. Once they start cooling, you will hear popping sounds as the jars seal. It is a glorious sound. Once the jars have cooled completely, check to make sure they are sealed. To check, just press down the center of the lid. If it pops up and down, the jar has not sealed. You can place the jars that do not seal in the refrigerator and can still use the contents. Label and date your jars. Store in a cool place, like the pantry. The pickled okra will be ready to eat in 3 or 4 days. Use the pickles within 1 year of canning.