Hippie Granola

9 Jan

Every time I come back to school from Portland, I try to take a little bit of home with me.

Last time I brought back my mother’s split pea soup recipe.

Yesterday I packed myself a Billy Collins book from Powell’s and a blueberry muffin from Dovetail bakery.

I’m already almost halfway through the book and the blueberry muffin lasted ten minutes at best – after that I had a little more trouble deciding what piece of the rose city to bring back with me (one that would last longer than a muffin).

But here’s my problem:  Portland is so many things.  How do I know which part I want to keep alive up here in Parkland

Is Portland more Mongolian grill or vegan bakery?

Is it more zombie walks or more nude bike rides?

Is it more hipster or hippie?

Let’s hold onto the hippie thing and leave the hipsters to the side for a while – or forever.

Hippies.  Tie-dye.  Granola.

Yes, granola.

Maple syrup, walnuts, oatmeal, craisins.  It doesn’t get more Portland than this.  Just make sure you buy the right yogurt to pair with the granola – unsweetened just doesn’t cut it.

One more thing – if you’re going to be a granola-eating hippie, you need to know how to make the peace sign:  it’s like this ☮ – if you leave out the middle line then you’re just making the mercedes logo, and that’s not very Portland.


  • 2 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 c. ground flax seed
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c. chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 c. craisins

Preheat your oven to 325°F.Combine the oats, flax, salt, and walnuts in a bowl.  In another bowl or measuring cup, mix the rest of the ingredients.  Add the wet to the dry and mix well.  Spread the mixture onto a 13×9 greased baking pan and bake for about 10 minutes.  Take it out and flip the granola.  Put it back in the oven for another ten minutes, or until the granola is the texture you want.

Add the craisins after it comes out of the oven, and serve it up over yogurt.

If you want, you can add different kinds of nuts, dried fruit, or if you want to get really hippie you could add in some chia seeds and hemp – not my thing, but to each his own.


A taste of home: split pea soup

2 Jan

I always feel a little conflicted coming back to school.

On the one hand, it’s great to get back into routine.

See people.  Take classes.  Be within 5 minutes walking distance of everyone.  Run into my boss everywhere I go.

On the other hand, I hate leaving Portland.  I miss my family, my house, my usual vegan haunts.

I miss seeing guys wearing kilts riding unicycles down the street and playing the bagpipes like it’s no big deal.  This happened.  Seriously.  Don’t believe me?

(the Birkenstocks really complete the ensemble – at least he’s not wearing socks, too.)

So whenever I come back up to school, I try to bring a little bit of Portland back with me.

This is one of those recipes you get from your mom that never tastes the same when you make it – but it still tastes pretty good, because, well, it’s your mom’s recipe.


And especially on your first night back at school when the heater is still trying to wake up from three weeks of sleep, this soup is the perfect thing to warm you up.


  • 1 c. dried split peas
  • 1 c. each diced carrot, onion, and celery
  • 2 small red potatoes, diced
  • 4 c. vegetable broth
  • 1/4 tsp. marjoram
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste

Throw the peas and the broth in a pot and let them simmer for about an hour (I put the bay leaf in about half-way through this time).  My pea to broth ratio was a little off, so I ended up adding a cup or two of water – you can do this if you like your soup a little more brothy anyway.  Add in the diced vegetables and spices and cook for another 20 – 30 minutes, just until the veggies are tender.

Serve it up with bread or without, either way it tastes like home.

(Unsalted) Chocolate Chip Cookies

31 Dec

They say the cure for anything is salt water:  sweat, tears, or the sea.

I went to the beach this week.

I ran on the beach.

I almost got blown back to Portland by salty sea air.

I cried.

I spent time with my family.

I made cookies.

(Someday, I’m going to go out and spend money on some really nice sea salt and make  salted chocolate cookies for you.  Because really, I think that’s the best kind.  Salty and sweet – just like most of us.)

I made resolutions for the new year:  more beach, more sweat, fewer tears; more art, more music, less drama; more tea, more books, less sadness.  Sounds good, right?  Yeah, I think that sounds good.

(unofficial new year resolution: convince my family to get a dog – not a dog like this, but a dog)

CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (adapted from this recipe)

  • 1 c. margarine
  • 1¼ c. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. flax + 6 tbsp. water
  • ½ c. dark cocoa powder
  • 2¼ c. all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 c. each white chocolate chips and semisweet chocolate chips (or any other combination of different chocolates that suit your fancy)

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the margarine and sugar.  Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the flax and vanilla.  Mix in the cocoa powder until well blended.  Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the bowl and mix on low speed just until incorporated.  Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.

Scoop the dough onto your baking sheets, about an inch apart – they don’t spread much.  Bake 15 – 17 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (or ditch the cooling altogether and eat them hot off the pan).

Christmas Cookies after the fact – spiral cookies

26 Dec

I don’t know about you, but I get a little bit of the blues the day after Christmas.

The television, the music, the store ads, the shopping – Christmas is totally hyped up for over a month and then all of a sudden it’s over.

That’s it.

No more crazy-gift-giving holidays for another year.

Unless you count your birthday as  a crazy-gift-giving holiday – but Macy’s doesn’t throw major sales for your birthday.  (Oh, if they did…)

Sure you can booze up on New Year’s Eve and ease the pain, but that’s a whole week after Christmas.

So maybe just bake these cookies and stay in the holiday spirit for a few more days.

Or at least until your cookies have all been eaten.

Your liver will thank you.


  • 2 cups unsifted flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup unsifted powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ sticks margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • food coloring
  • 1 ½ cups multi-colored nonpareil decors – I just mixed together all the Christmas sprinkles I own(ed)

I did these with a pastry blender.  I guess I’m just a little behind the times, but a food processor would work great too.

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugars in a bowl.  Add the margarine in pieces and cut in with a pastry blender or pulse in your food processor.  Add the vanilla and process until it forms a ball.  I had to add a little soy milk to get my dough to come together – it’s a personal thing.

Divide the dough into two equal portions and add food coloring to one (or both – two different colors) of the portions.  You could even get really fancy and do three or four colors.

Roll out each piece of dough into similar shapes, then place one on top of the other.  Roll them together a little with your rolling pin.

Starting from one side of your slab, begin rolling it up – sort of like when you do those turkey pinwheel appetizers in the tortillas.  Same concept.  Unless you don’t eat turkey, like me, in which case that metaphor may have been totally lost on you.

Roll the roll in the sprinkles.  This part takes some effort, but I found that just pushing them into the dough worked best.

Wrap the roll up in plastic wrap and let it fridge for about an hour.  Then take it out, slice it up into 1/4 – inch slices, and bake in a 325° oven for 15 – 17 minutes.

(These are totally best fresh out of the oven)
Remove dough pieces from refrigerator. Pour the nonpareil decors into a shallow rectangular dish (such as a 9×13-inch pan.

Food for your skin

24 Dec

I’ve learned that there are two kinds of people in this world.

There’s the kind of people who buy and make all of their Christmas gifts ahead of time and avoid the Christmas rush completely.  All they have to do today is finish up wrapping.  Maybe bake some cookies.  Listen to music.  Take a bubble bath.  Lounge around in pj’s all day.

And then there are the people who wait until Christmas Eve to start shopping.  The ones who brave the crowds at the stores.  The crazies who think for some reason it would be a good idea to go to the mall today.  And think they’ll still be able to find their car in that mess of a parking lot after three hours of shopping.

If you’re the first kind of person, this stuff is for you.

Have a little me time today before all your nutsy relatives arrive at your house tomorrow.

If you’re the second person, this stuff is your savior.  Put down that Christmas list.  Step away from the credit card.  If you play it right, all you should need today is some coconut oil and a few mason jars.  20 bucks, max.  I promise.

Pair this with a log of cookie dough or a pair of socks or nothing at all and you have the perfect gift for that cousin, aunt, mom, grandma, girlfriend, sister, or skin-conscious brother…


  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c. – 3/4 c. coconut oil, just enough to bring the sugar together
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix together the sugar and vanilla.  Add in the coconut oil and stir just until combined.  You don’t want the mixture to be wet, but the sugar should stick to itself.  Put it into clean glass mason jars with gift tags and instructions.

How to use:  with a scrub brush or just your fingers, rub the mixture onto your skin, then wash away with water.  It’s best to do this right before you take a shower, that way you don’t have a huge mess on your hands when you go to rinse it off.

You can mess with this recipe all you want.  You can use whatever oils you have on hand, add in different extracts and essential oils for different scents, or throw some oatmeal in there for extra exfoliation.

Christmas Cookies: sugar cookies

22 Dec

It’s Christmas time.

That means you’ve probably already had plenty of sugar cookies.

You’ve tasted crunchy sugar cookies, too-soft sugar cookies, sugar cookies made well and… not so well.

Or maybe, you’ve just been eating those super-soft crazy-delicious sugar cookies that come in the packages at the grocery store.


Here’s a new recipe to add to your repertoire.  The sugar cookie to end all other sugar cookies.

No big deal.

(bad picture, sorry about that)


  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs-worth of Ener-G egg replacer
  • 2 tablespoons soy milk mixed with 1 tsp. vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Using an electric mixer cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in egg replacer and mix well. Mix in the soy milk mixture and vanilla until combined. Gradually add in flour mixture combined.

Chill dough for at least one hour in refrigerator (half an hour works just fine).

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll out the dough, cut out shapes, and bake for 10 – 12 minutes.  Once they’re cool, frost them with buttercream and sprinkle with sprinkles.

Christmas Cookies: shortbread and macaroons

18 Dec

I love Christmas.

I’ve been listening to Christmas music in my car since the day after Thanksgiving.

The last few weeks of school, I started a paper-snowflake-making craze to procrastinate studying and decorate my room.

I love Christmas ornaments and all the memories that happen when you decorate the tree.

I wear light-up reindeer antlers when no one else is around.

I might be wearing some right now.

 I might have put them on an hour and a half ago.  And not taken them off since.


 And I love love love making Christmas cookies.


  • 1 c. margarine
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tbsp. ground flax + 3 tbsp. water
  • 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. finely chopped walnuts (I am really not a fan of nuts in baked goods, so I chopped them up so they were almost the consistency of ground nuts.  You could use a food processor if you have one, or, if you’re like me and don’t have a food processor or… are Amish, you can just use a knife)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Melt the margarine.  Add the brown sugar and mix until it’s combined.  Then add the flour, salt, cocoa powder, vanilla, egg, and walnuts and mix just until combined.  Stick it in the fridge for about a half an hour – do this.  Don’t skip it. Otherwise, you’ll have a crumbly gross mess on your hands.  Roll it out and cut out the shapes you want.  Bake for about 15 – 18 minutes, until slightly browned on the bottoms.


  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. coconut milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 c. shredded coconut
  • 1 c. almond slices
  • 3/4 c. flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the sugar, milk, extracts, and salt in a bowl. Mix in the coconut and almonds. Add the flour to the bowl and mix until well incorporated. Using a cookie scoop, scoop dough onto a parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, until the bottoms are golden.