Recipe–Cooking for the Year–Day 5 = Grains

I’m sure you are looking forward to a day without garlic, chicken broth, and onions.  You will have renewed energy (that’s why we saved “Grains” for the last day) when the smells of peach pie, Boston Brown Bread, and baking granola waft into your over-worked brain.  But before we start baking, here’s why I go to all this work.  (You can insert your own reasons.)

The Kiddos:

LBG (Little Big Guy)



Little Man.

and The Hunni.

Those are the five reasons I cook.  And clean.  And do laundry.  And the dishes.  And etc., etc., etc.

Let’s bake.  I’ll bake for my Five Reasons, and you bake for your Reasons.  I promise, love makes the baking taste better.

Today’s Schedule:

  • granola
  • Boston Brown Bread
  • Dessert of your choice (I made Peach Pies)
  • Bread–if we have time.

The granola takes over an hour, so let’s start with it.

The recipe I use is an adaptation of one my MIL gave me.  (Mother-in-law, for you non-texters)  In fact, before I had her home-made granola, I didn’t know you could make granola.  I was only familiar with the store-bought kind.  My only problem with the granola I made is that I didn’t like the “Canola” after taste.  THEN I read a secret.  I read a recipe that used Coconut Oil instead of a Vegetable oil!!!!!   I hit oil!!  I was rich!!!  I was moving to Hollywood!!!–well, not really.  But the granola has a wonderful coconut flavor without all the extra “chewiness” of toasted coconut.

I don’t want to get off on saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats.  However, if you are scared of Coconut Oil read this from Wikipedia.

Saturated fat is required by the body and brain to function properly. In fact, one study in Brazil compared the effects of soybean oil to coconut oil (a highly saturated fat) and found that while both groups showed a drop in BMI, the soybean oil group showed an increase in overall cholesterol (including a drop in HDL, the good cholesterol). The coconut oil group actually showed an increase in the HDL:LDL ratio (meaning there was more of the good cholesterol), as well as smaller waist sizes (something that was not shown in the soybean oil group.)

I am NOT suggesting that you replace Canola Oil with Coconut Oil in your cooking–just with granola.  Measure 2 cups Coconut Oil and 2 cups honey into a heavy bottomed pot.  (If you measure the oil first, the honey doesn’t stick to the sides of the measuring cup so much.)  Add 2 t. salt and 2 T. cinnamon.  Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, and boil for one minute.

Measure 16 cups of regular/instant oats–an entire can of the large Quaker Oats.  I prefer a mix of Regular and Instant Rolled Oats, but if you want an “easier chew”, use only Instant Rolled Oats.  I then add sesame seeds, flax seeds, wheat bran (leave out the bran for a Gluten Free recipe), and chopped nuts.  I love slivered almonds, but I only had walnuts in the house so I used walnuts.  Remember, I live at My Whit’s End; we often have to “make do.”  I don’t measure, just add and stir, add and stir, add and stir until the mixture looks about how I would like.  Put this grain mixture into your turkey roasting pan.

Pour your Honey/Oil Mixture over your stirred Grain Mixture and stir to coat.

The next step is to carmelize all that honey onto each piece of rolled oat, almond, flax seed, etc. . .  This “carmelization” takes about an hour in a 325 degree oven.  Stir it every 10 – 15 minutes.  You will see it go from pale white to a golden brown.  And if you wanted to be really “La-tee-dah-ish” about it, you could say, “I like my granola with more of a French Roast than a Light Vienna Roast, but short of an Italian Roast.”  (Little did you realize that Starbucks lingo would invade your granola conversations.)

When the granola has cooled, add your dried fruit.  Now I had to settle for walnuts, but I had dried cherries, so things balanced out.

The oven is busy, so let’s make bread on the stove.  Bread on the stove?  Yep, I make my Boston Brown Bread in my Pressure Cooker.  You can make Boston Brown Bread in your steamer in 2 1/2 hours, in your Crock Pot in 3 1/2 hours, or in your Pressure Cooker in 45 minutes. If you have never had Boston Brown Bread, you can buy it already made in a can at your local grocery store.  It’s good, too.  Try it before you spend the time on this recipe.

Here’s the history of Boston Brown Bread from Wise Geek.  My mom went to college in Boston, and she is the one who taught me to make this recipe.

Boston brown bread is an unusual bread which gets some of its flavor from molasses, and which has an interesting history that stems directly from the resources available in Colonial New England.  Early New Englanders needed a bread with what limited resources they had.  Since they had more cornmeal and rye flour than wheat flour, the three were combined, helping them to conserve their precious stores of wheat.  In addition, as ovens were not available to all colonists, the bread was cooked by steaming, instead of baking it.

Many settlers in New England cooked their meals in fireplaces, instead of ovens, so they came up with a way to cook bread in the fireplace.  The bread was steamed, usually in a container that is cylindrical.  Metal or glass molds may have been used, while today Boston brown bread is usually steamed in a coffee can.  With ovens and stoves being ubiquitous in modern society, the can or other heatproof container containing the bread dough is usually steamed by being placed in a covered pot which contains boiling water.

After Boston brown bread is steamed, it is generally slid out of the can or mold, retaining the shape of the container, and served while it is still warm.  Boston brown bread is now offered pre-made in a can, or occasionally in bakeries.  The bread is often served with Boston baked beans, just as it was in the days of the Puritans.

Clean out some old cans–old soup cans, old 8’clock coffee cans, old stewed tomato cans.  The bread is going to be made in these cans so clean them well.  Give them the sniff test.  If the can still smells like clam chowder wash the can again.  If the can still smells like coffee, use it just as it is.  If the can smells like dogfood. . . .I’M KIDDING!!!!!!!

I LOVE spray oil.  If you don’t believe me read my post about spray Pam.

You need about 3 veggie cans or 2 coffee cans for this recipe.

Mix the dry ingredients–1 c. whole wheat flour, 1 c. rye flour, 1 c. yellow cornmeal, 1 1/2 t. baking soda, 1 t. salt.

Now stir in some raisins (1 cup) or prunes.  That’s right I said prunes.  Why are we all so scared of prunes.  Do you know what prunes are?  They are this (see photo below.).

Plums!!  Whose scared of plums?  No one.  So go ahead and say the word “prunes.”  We don’t need to be scared of it.  The word “prunes” just ceased to be a bad word.  Say it three or four times to get used to it.  prunes.  Prunes.  PRUNES!  I am a big girl now, I can admit to cooking with prunes.  (If you are feeling prudish, just say dried plums.)

I find that cutting the PRUNES is easier than chopping the PRUNES.

Toss to coat.  Not “toss your coat”, but “toss to coat”.  However, if you are having a hot flash or if your blood pressure has risen after saying that scary word “PRUNES!” you may “toss your coat,” also.  I am not afraid of PRUNES! so I add a little more than one cup.

Combine the wet ingredients–2 c. buttermilk and 3/4 c. molasses.  If you use spray oil on your measuring cup, the molasses will roll out leaving behind barely a trace.  I love spray oil.

Swirl together to make a pretty design.  Really.  We have time.  Go ahead.  It is as therapeutic as finger painting is to kindergarteners.

Okay, your Therapy Session is over.  That will be $52.00 please.  Make your check payable to MY WHIT’S END TRAVEL TO TAHITI FUND.  And thank you very much.

Go ahead and get your checkbook.  I can wait.  🙂

Back to reality.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  You can watch the Baking Soda start working right away.

Dump the dough into the coffee/veggie/not dogfood cans.  Before you cover each can with aluminium foil, spray the foil a bit with spray oil.  I love spray oil. 

 Cover each can with sprayed foil and secure with a rubber band.  If you doubt whether a rubber band can stand up to the heat read this post.  I added about 2 inches of water to the bottom of my pressure cooker.  Read your directions to be sure of the exact amount for your pressure cooker.

Set a timer for about 45 minutes. 

Slice yourself up a piece when they are finished.

Now if you have any energy left, make up some pies and bread.  If not, just make yourself a coffee and enjoy it with a slice, or two, of Boston Brown Bread.

The only thing you have left is this.

Console yourself by a spatula of this.  Remind yourself that molasses is very high in iron and that 10% of woman under 50 are low in iron.  You don’t want to take any risks, so take another spoonful.

And maybe one more.

And just one more little, tiny, sample.


Have a chaser of a spoonful of molasses.

Feel good.

Get on with the dishes.


P.S. If you need my address to mail me my check, please contact me here.  Or you could just add the $52.00 to your own TAHITI FOR MAMA-CEETI FUND.  I’m okay with that.

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9 Responses to Recipe–Cooking for the Year–Day 5 = Grains

  1. you can use olive oil in granola too…super tasty.
    here is a link to the recipe i use from the ny times. i adapt of course.


    • whitsendmom says:

      The maple syrup sounds like a great idea. Martha Stewart also has an apple cider version that I have been meaning to try. I will try a batch with olive oil next time. I was afraid of using olive oil for breakfast, but if you like the taste, then I’m sure it is delicious!!


  2. brooke says:

    You could also do a half olive, half coconut if you want a balance of health and taste : ) I mix the olive with the canola because sometimes the olive is overpowering for me, but I don’t mind the canola. Oiye. Whatever you use–the house smells GOOD on this day. I would love to come over and enjoy some Boston Brown Bread AND some peach pie with you : )


  3. Actually, regular Grandma’s molasses is very low in iron – it’s only 5% of the MDR. It’s so low that it isn’t even listed on the label as a nutrient in it. The old blackstrap molasses IS high in iron – it has 95% of the daily requirement. Grandma’s robust only has 2%, and both it and the original are sadly lacking in many nutrients, as is ALL palatable molasses. Not many people would appreciate the flavor of blackstrap, either! That’s why it fell out of favor. It was often given to children and adults in the spring as a tonic, which they probably needed if they didn’t have many vegetables. Today we don’t have to worry about that!


  4. Dar G says:

    I love you sense of humor.


  5. Thank you for the brown bread recipe–a friend of mine (a Mainer) served some several years ago from a pressure cooker, but I had forgotten it could be done. I have lived on a sailboat for the last 12 years, homeschooled five children aboard, and done boatloads (literally!) of cooking experiments. I am eager to try your brown bread this summer as we sit on a mooring in the Florida Keys, as it won’t require heating the oven in our already-hot cabin!


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