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Sunday
Apr132014

Honey Almond Quinoa Granola

Honey Almond Quinoa Granola

The sun is peeking over the horizon when my alarm buzzes in the morning, my bedroom a hazy gray. The dim light makes it feel like a new day instead of a tired continuum of night. This has made all the difference, it seems, in mood and spirit. The long winter is over, the sun is warm once more, and it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

I am beginning to feel human again. It is the most glorious feeling.

Honey Almond Quinoa Granola Honey Almond Quinoa Granola

I've been having a hard time finding my voice these last few months. I can hold words in my mind as well as water cupped between my hands. Eventually the water slips through my fingers, as do any thoughts I may have wished to share. For the first time in years, the recipes have slowed. I want to write when I have something to say, not to just fill this space with empty thoughts.

I am certain the recipes will come more often in the future, but for now I need more time to myself: to think, to breathe, to find the words to say. Thank you for being patient and supportive—it means so much.

Honey Almond Quinoa Granola

A few times a year, I make a large batch of granola to last me through a busy week. When creating this granola, I sifted through the cupboards to gather together a few ingredients, missing so many of the common ingredients such as dried fruits or chocolate chips. In the end, it didn't matter. Whole grains, nuts, and a natural sweetener brought this granola together, making it something quite unique.

This may be both the healthiest and most enjoyable granola I have ever made. I hope you feel the same.

Honey Almond Quinoa Granola Honey Almond Quinoa Granola

Honey Almond Quinoa Granola is a whole grain breakfast both filling and wholesome (and gluten-free). The quinoa provides a lovely crunch, with honey for sweetness, and toasted almonds for nuttiness. Over the course of a week, I enjoyed this granola drowned in milk, sprinkled over yogurt, and eaten by the handful for a midnight snack. Healthy and delightful, this is a breakfast you can feel good about.

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Tuesday
Apr012014

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons

It rained today, a slow drizzle from the sky bringing as much gloom as a single afternoon could muster. Never, I dare say, has such a day felt more needed. This feeling spread like a contagion through the high school, my students infected with the Friday afternoon jitters though it was only Monday. It was a sign that winter was going to end, that the months spent hiding indoors were worth the wait, a sign that we could begin to breathe again.

I feel as if I've been holding my breath too long.

Coconut Macaroons Coconut Macaroons

I am afraid winter managed to get the best of me this year. It was a longer and colder winter than I can remember from years past, weakening my spirit in subtle, but significant ways. The sun didn't bring warmth to my skin; the wind cut through my winter coat. With a heavy workload and small town isolation, I often slipped into a melancholy mood, feeling as if the light behind my eyes had dimmed.

Standing in the crowded school hallway, the bell ringing to signal the changing of classes, it smelled like rain and dirt and people. I breathed in deeply, filling my lungs. I never thought that this smell was one I could miss. I never imagined that this scent, damp and dank, would be the sign of spring I was so desperate for.

I paused to take another breath before heading back to class.

Coconut Macaroons

The best coconut macaroon I've had was at a small bakery tucked away in a large market. It didn't look like much, so small as it was, but the texture—dense and endlessly chewy—was worth noting. I've thought of those macaroons often since then, whipping up a batch here or there in my own kitchen. The cookies were neither dense nor chewy enough to satisfy my tastes. Though each cookie was eaten, but I could not help but compare them with each bite.

After fiddling around with this recipe, I uncovered a version that comes quite close to the coveted texture of that small bakery. I am satisfied.

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons are a simple, five ingredient cookie, that celebrates coconut. With maple syrup to sweeten and vanilla to complement, these cookies become quite addictive (especially if you have a cup of tea in hand). If you prefer a lighter macaroon, simply decrease the baking time, but I enjoy them best when dark and golden (which the recipe reflects below).

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Monday
Mar242014

Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread

Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread

A glimpse of spring came earlier this week, with rising temperatures, freshly revealed patches of brown grass, and a collective sigh of relief. However, just as soon as it came, it left, drowned out by a new layer of white and acknowledged with a thick scarf wrapped around my neck. Winter is not ready to leave yet. I tucked my spring clothes back in the closet and, with a hint of reluctance, pulled on another winter sweater.

Soon, I must remind myself. Soon.

Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread

In an effort to knock the winter doldrums away, I've been trying to brighten up the kitchen with more color and brighter flavors. It was this spirit that guided me back to an old family recipe, a favorite of my Grandmother Irene. She would make her orange rolls as a welcome to spring and the arrival of Easter, adored and devoured by friends and family alike. Though I have never met her, I feel as if I know her, just a little bit, through her food.

I played with her recipe a bit, decreasing the sugar and adding a touch more orange, but keeping the essence of the recipe close to heart. There are too many family memories and remembrances wrapped up in the layers of dough to alter it any further.

Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread

Though I took an easier route with the dough—cutting it into squares and stacking it—instead of creating individual rolls, I feel as if my grandmother would not have minded. A little short cut now and then never hurt anyone, right? Once baked and soaked in glaze, I took my first bite. And then second. And third. This bread holds the heart of spring in each layer. I find myself easily saying just one more slice before repeating the phrase a few minutes later as if it was my new mantra.

While the wind may still blow and the snow may still fly, in my small apartment it is spring.

Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread

Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread is a riff on a dear family classic. Though it may take a new form, the flavors are still full and bright. A sweet, rich dough is painted in melted butter and topped with a mixture of orange sugar and coconut. The dough is sliced, stacked, and baked, wafting sweet aromas throughout the home. When it emerges, it is drowned in an orange glaze, which soaks deeply into every nook and cranny of the loaf. This loaf is a special one; it should not be missed nor failed to be shared.

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