Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BOOKS: Laurie Colwin

I love me a good book. Even better, I love a good book with good food descriptions in it. Something about the description of what characters are eating, makes me feel like I know them and then can truly be friends with them. I think of it as breaking bread with the story and really getting to know the ins and outs of the lives of the people that I will be spending hundreds of reading pages with. Would Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley truly be properly wizardish and British without treacle tart, butterbeer, or Bertie Bott's every flavor beans? I don't think so. I was wending my way through a Half-Price Books this weekend and happened upon this book:

And in doing so, I found a kindred spirit. I am not a stranger to Laurie Colwin's writing. The first time I read a column by Mrs. Colwin was in an old issue of Gourmet magazine. I was struck then by her writing style: honest, witty, warm, and friendly. However, reading her collection of essays truly made me feel as if I were in her kitchen, gabbing about the merits of mushrooms, biscuits, and of course, books. In her book, Mrs. Colwin too, writes about her love of cookbooks and novels with fantastic cookery. And here I thought I was the only one who could gain 5 lbs from reading a book. Finding Mrs. Colwin's book made my weekend, as I curled up in a couch, hot chai in hand, and savored her words. Sadly, Mrs. Colwin died unexpectedly from a heart attack at the too-early age of 48 in 1992. I imagine that she is still much missed, though it has been nearly 20 years since her death. But I am glad that the author was able to share so much in her short time, making friends and breaking bread with all of the foodies out there, for generations to come.

Recipes of what I ate while enjoying Laurie Colwin's words:
I got this recipe by way of 3191 (thank you Stephanie!):
Stand-by Family Granola inspired by/adapted from Crunchy Granola in How to Cook Everything & 3191
6 cups rolled oats
2 cups mixed nuts and seeds (I only had nuts on hand, so it was a combination of hazelnuts and pine nuts)

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup creamy honey
Dash Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place a baking pan (at least 9 x13) over medium heat on the stove top. Add the oats and toast, stirring for a few minutes. Add the coconut, nuts and seeds and spices and continue to toast for a few minutes more until everything begins to brown and become fragrant. Warm the brown sugar and honey in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Pour over oats mixture and stir to thoroughly combine. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for approximately 20 minutes (it depends on the size of the granola batch and the size of the pan). Check every 5-10 minutes or so and give it a good stir. Allow to cool and store in an air-tight jar.

Chai (from chai concentrate recipe found here)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Empty condensed milk into a jar or plastic container with tight-fitting lid. Stir in the sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Store in refrigerator.

To use: Brew a cup of strong black tea, such as Assam, then add two heaping teaspoons of concentrate or more to taste. Stir well until concentrate has fully melted.

To give: Pour into small jars with lids and tie with an attractive bow, or wrap the jar first. Attach a tag with instructions to keep the mix refrigerated and how to use it.

To keep: Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Take care and break bread friends!



Mimi said...

I know this Chai concoction!!! It was a great surprise on my desk from you =) It's a great gift especially in the winter time. Not to mention, when poured over some vanilla ice cream is $$$. Swheet!!! Love your last two blogs, keep up the good work and please keep sharing your new found treasures.

Jean said...

Thanks Mimi!!! I'm glad you like this recipe =) Over ice cream sounds great, I will have to try that soon. Yummers.