Recipe–Croutons!

When you bake regularly, there are times when a portion of a loaf ends up uneaten. When this happens in our home, we make croutons! They keep well in an air-tight container for several weeks and are so yummy on salads or in soup. We also use them to make bread crumbs–simply by pounding them around in our mortar and pestle, which is such fun, terribly messy-in-the-right-kind-of-easy-clean-up-way, and a good activity for energetic little people. (Or you could use a food processor…)

In this recipe I show how you can add olive oil and salt for extra flavor, but the croutons are just as functional and delicious when left alone. I’ve made croutons from many types of breads, but my favorites are the rosemary French bread that I make, and sourdough. Oh, a French loaf with parmesan in it would be delicious, too!

Time Commitment: A few minutes to cube the bread, a long wait, then a few more minutes to bake the croutons…

Tools you need:
  • Bread knife and cutting board
  • Mixing bowl
  • an oven :)
  • Cookie sheet

Ingredients:

  • old bread
  • olive oil
  • salt
What to do:

Step One: Cut the old bread into crouton-sized cubes.

Step Two: Put the cubed bread into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, toss the cut bread, then drizzle some more. I don’t saturate mine, just put on enough to coat and get flavor… Toss in a few pinches of salt as you go.

Step Three: Leave the cubed bread out overnight on a cookie sheet, or at least for a few hours in the open air.

Step Four: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toast the bread cubes in the oven for 8-12 minutes, depending on size.

Step Five: After they cool, store the croutons in an airtight container. Ask some friends over for dinner, make a lovely Caesar chicken salad –with croutons–for dinner, and enjoy!


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Thank You Bread

I often give bread as a thank you. It’s tastier than a note, don’t you think?

This summer we’ve been gone so often, and folks have helped take out our trash, and water our pear tomatoes, and bring in the mail, plus gather up errant copies of the Wall Street Journal that stray and yellow under the coreopsis…

So, cheese bread for all! Yum. I making several batches over several days to spread out the love.

Thanks, Jack!

Thanks, Morgan!

Thank you, Susie and Mia and Noe!

(By the way, my handwriting has degraded terribly these last few years. It’s not often that I sit and write by hand anymore and I’m appalled by the lack of style and elegance. Anyway, long story short. While my kindergartener learns to write this year, I’m going to join him with my own program. I’m so excited! It’s titled “Spencerian System of Practical Penmanship” and is a series of five small books, created in 1864, for school children. I’m hoping my thank you notes will gain in beauty as I progress–we’ll see!)

Meanwhile, back to baking, on to laundry, and then to the beach! We’re making the most of these last few days of summer.

Cheers!

Not About Me

We are delighting in the last days of summer sun–the sleep-in mornings–the late nights of eating ice cream and being silly together. We have had a tremendous summer! We Meyers have all remained healthy, safe, and had new adventures. We are grateful! I am grateful.

And yet… there is another part of me–a part that is not about me…

I have two friends with cancer, another in and out of the hospital, and several who are struggling with depression and relationships. For some, this summer hasn’t been all about road trips, making stripety bags, and baking brownies. For some it has meant hardship, headaches and hoping for better times.

Last week I found myself on the doorstep of several of these friends. Offering food (including bread of course!) and my time to just sit and chat. You do this,

and I do this.

Sometimes, it’s better just to give and not blog all over the place about it.

So I’ll stop there.

***

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

–Winston Churchill

Granola–Recipe

I love granola. But purchasing it in bulk at the  health food store is costly… At a recent farmers market at our church, a friend made a batch of granola–exactly the kind I like–so I begged her for the recipe and have been making it now for months… Thanks, Jennifer!

Yum. So easy, and much more forgiving on the wallet.

And, this recipe is glooten free. Okay, gluten free, (who came up with the word gluten, anyway?) as long as you buy gluten-free oats.

This recipe can easily be halved or adjusted… Adjust amounts of seeds, add raisins or dried cranberries, or other nuts, perhaps pumpkin seeds or goji berries–all according to your liking. I keep my batches of granola in a big jar in my pantry. It keeps well for a long time, but I go through a batch of 7 cups of oats every two or three weeks.

Time Commitment: 10 minutes to assemble and mix, 60 minutes to bake

Tools you need:
  • Two cookie sheets or large glass baking dishes
  • mixing bowl
  • an oven :)
  • wooden spoon

Ingredients:

  • 7 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup chopped or slivered raw almonds
  • 1 cup chopped raw walnuts or pecans
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup  unsalted butter, canola oil, or grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1-2 tablespoons nut butter (peanut, or cashew or almond…)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
What to do:

Step One: Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Step Two: In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, nuts, seeds, cinnamon and salt. Stir round and round.

Step Three: If using butter, melt butter in a small pan. Add the nut butter and maple syrup and stir till blended. Cool, and add vanilla to liquids. If using oil, then melt nut butter–add oils and maple syrup and stir over low heat. Add vanilla.

Step Four: Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and mix.

Step Five: Divide the mixture in half, spreading it out onto two cookie sheets. Bake for 30 minutes at 325, then take out the granola, turning it with a spatula, and bake another 15 or 20 minutes, until toasted and golden brown.

Step Six: Yum! Store in an airtight container. Even this granola can be shared. You can put cooled granola into clean mason jars and give as gifts, or invite a friend over for breakfast and eat with milk and fresh berries, or plain yogurt like I do 🙂


Zazpiak Bat

There was a minor car crash in the neighborhood the other day, which caused us to veer from our normal street route. Only two blocks from our home my husband and I gasped as we passed a house flying a Basque flag.

Basques aren’t too plentiful in Santa Barbara. It’s an odd and statistically slim heritage... I’ve only met two others here in all our eleven years. So, the flag was amazing–they live two blocks away? I just had to bring them bread!

So I did. I baked some rosemary rolls (in-the-round), walked the short jaunt, and introduced myself to Angela and her family. New friends. New Basque friends.

Another sweet sip of joy–by way of a round loaf of bread!

Up For Grabs

Yesterday, my husband and I were talking about our July. We counted up the days and realized that during that month we were home for a total of six days. First–we had our big driving adventure, which took us all over the West, then we spent a week in Santa Monica, where my parents live, while all the kids did one sort of camp or another. That week was a boon week for me. I spent each and every morning tucked into a beach cabana writing. If you ever thought I wasn’t spoiled, now you know the real truth. I’m spoiled…

I don’t mind summer baking. Santa Barbara doesn’t soar into the 100’s like many places. We don’t struggle with turning the oven on, but this summer, baking just hasn’t been on the top of my list. It’s hard to bake from the front seat of an SUV!

During every little break when we’ve actually been here (all six of those days) I’ve pulled out the grain bin and got to mixing. I made rosemary rolls for a family with a new baby (yay Nikolovs!), I made prosphora for church (one loaf rose so unevenly that it looked like a fish with its mouth gaping open!), I made another batch of rosemary rolls for visitors (two sister-in-laws, one niece, and one friend of my daughter’s–all bunking with us). But my most recent giving experience opened a new chapter in my bread giving. Here’s the play by play.

My husband was making Jamie Oliver’s Incredible Smashed Peas and Fava Beans on Toast (it’s amazing–you absolutely need to try this recipe!!!) for a special Sunday evening meal to treat our guests. Only, we didn’t have the toast. It was 3pm, so no time to dally, dinnertime was inevitable. I got to mixing.

Douglas decided he wanted baguette-like bread, so I molded up some flutes, and into the oven went four of them at 5:30 pm. Everyone was busy with something. John Ronan was putting together his own snack, which included two dessert marshmallows; my daughter and her friend were singing and dancing around the house; and I simply didn’t feel like finding someone to give the bread to. I’m sorry, I just didn’t feel like it! (It was that spoiled thing surfacing, I think…)

So, I did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I carted a chair out to the curb. Put our cake stand on top of it. Scribbled a quick sign, and left the bread for a passerby. My sister-in-law thought this was hilarious, and wanted to stay out front to spy and see who might be brave enough to take it, but I pulled her back inside, set the timer for 30 minutes, and figured if the bread wasn’t gone by then–then I’d run it across to Morgan, or Jack, or Susie and be done with it.

And with ten minutes left on the timer, I checked the curb, and the bread was…

gone.

Not sure who plucked it off the chair, but I sure hope they tasted the fun and love and prayers that hopefully seeped into it from our crazy household.

It’s good to be back home.