Travelchick

My adventures and mis-adventures as I travel here and there

Cooking Carob Cake and Granola in Michigan

Well, friends, after arriving in Michigan and giving myself about a month to settle in, I am again turning my attention to blogging. I must say that the trip here (more on that later) and the initial adjustment period have been surprisingly smooth and, dare I say, easy? The sky will probably fall now that I’ve said that, but really I doubt it. Life (no, God) seems to have touched everything around me and turned it to gold. I’ve never been happier!

Yesterday was The Boyfriend’s birthday. I’m a traditional, occasion-observing sort of girl, so I wanted to give him something. Easier said than done for a guy who readily admits he already has everything he wants and wears a large corresponding smile at all times. Nevertheless, I had a few ideas and set about making them happen. Being the penniless, jobless loser that I am, I thought it would be perhaps a bit more economical to give a gift of homemade food (and, let’s face it, even the man who has everything still needs to eat). Granola (which he’s obsessed with) and carob cake (he loves carob so much it’s almost disturbing) were on the menu. And here’s where the link to travel comes in (you were wondering, weren’t you?): when you uproot yourself and move across country, sometimes you really miss the places you used to buy food!

Back in Walla Walla, Washington, we had a store called Andy’s Market. If I could be back there at this very moment, I’d kneel down and kiss the ground it stands on. Andy’s Market had all the fresh local produce, all the inexpensive bulk everything, all the vege and vegan alternatives that I could ever ask for. It’s not a chain and it’s not to be surpassed, apparently. I needed all these nuts and dried fruit and carob and I had no idea where to get them! Everyone here shops for food at Meijer, which is the Michigan version of Wal-Mart (not considered “The Devil” because it’s not nationwide?….). Besides that, there are a few other familiar and not-familiar stores. I finally found carob at both Hillers Market and Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods also has a very small bulk section where I was thankfully able to find the nuts I needed. They also had a bit of cheaper price on the carob goods. That, coupled with the fact that they carry Vegenaise and liquid aminos, means that I’ll cross Hillers off the list and rely on Whole Foods as my substitute (albeit a poor one) for Andy’s. Whole Foods in no way measures up to the variety or price of the bulk foods section in Andy’s Market. Sigh.

All in all, I’m not sure that making homemade granola and carob cake are the most economical ways to go, but they are definitely the most fun! I found the cake recipe in the April 2010 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. Dorothy Olsen of Provo, Utah won the $25,000 grand prize for her Whole Wheat Chocolate-Blueberry Cake. Being all at the same time a fan of chocolate, dessert, and healthy eating (hypocritical maybe?), I had to try it out. The only change I made was to substitute unsweetened carob powder for unsweetened cocoa powder and vegan carob pieces for semisweet chocolate pieces.

This cake is rich and decadent.  The Boyfriend and I love the way the whole wheat flour tastes in it!  Very wholesome.

Whole Wheat Chocolate-Blueberry Cake

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (or carob powder)
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces (or carob pieces)
  • fresh blueberries or Blueberry Sauce (see recipe below)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In medium bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In blender combine water, blueberries, and the egg.  Cover and blend until smooth.  Add to flour mixture.  Whisk until well combine.  Pour into greased 8x8x2-inch baking pan.
  2. Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Invert onto serving platter.
  3. In small microwave-safe bowl combine dessert topping and chocolate pieces.  Micro-cook, covered, on 50% power (medium) 1 minute.  Stir until smooth.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Pour onto cooled cake, spreading evenly.
  4. Cut cake into squares to serve.  Top with fresh blueberries.  Serve with Blueberry Sauce.  Makes 9 servings.

Blueberry Sauce: In blender combine 1/2 cup frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed, and 1/2 cup fresh blueberries.  Cover and blend until smooth.

I found the granola recipe, Easy Homemade Granola, on this website.  I slightly modified it by also adding 1/3 cup walnuts (LOVE walnuts!) and cutting the brown sugar to 1/8 cup.  The granola turned out REALLY SALTY! so I’d recommend cutting down on the salt as well.  Maybe 1/2 tsp. in instead of 1?  Otherwise, it was delicious.  The Boyfriend adds some plains oats to his granola anyway, so that probably helps with the salt factor.

Easy Homemade Granola  (from “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup whole almonds
  • 1/3 cup whole hazelnuts
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the oats with the cinnamon and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until completely combined.
  4. Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use your hands to combine them: Gather up some of the mixture in each hand and make a fist. Repeat until all of the oats are coated with the honey mixture.
  5. Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it out evenly, but leave a few clumps here and there for texture.
  6. Bake for 10 min, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the almonds over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.
  7. Bake for 5 min, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.
  8. Bake for 10 min, then remove from the oven. Let cool completely. Sprinkle the raisins and cherries over the granola.
  9. Transfer it to an airtight container, where it will keep for one week.

I noticed on the Andy’s Market website that you can order things online…. Hmmmm…. I may try that.  Until then, I’ll be crying on the inside every time I walk out of Whole Foods.

© Travelnole and Travelchick-girl unstoppable, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Travelnole and Travelchick-girl unstoppable with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Advertisements

April 1, 2010 Posted by | Detroit, Moving, Travel, United States, Walla Walla | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cure Writer’s Block by Traveling

I went to Michigan last week with the idea that I might be less distracted there and better able to focus on writing my thesis…. and it totally worked! I believe I got more done there in a week than I had gotten done in the last month at home (which wasn’t much, sadly). I also began to understand and see things more clearly; I began to grasp the big picture of what I am writing about. I keep thinking of famous American expatriates who relocated for the purpose of accomplishing something that seemed much less likely from their home soil- especially writers who were portrayed during significant periods of literature as sort of “breaking free” of the confines of home and finding new inspiration, openness, and acceptance in more exotic places such as Paris (Indeed, I took an entire class in college called “American Writers in Paris” in which we studied the work of the Lost Generation e.g. Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound).

Ernest Hemingway

Thus romanticizing my lowly trek from state to state, I was lucky to have my hopes fulfilled. During each day while my boyfriend was detained at work, I was able to crank out more actual study time than had even seemed feasible while here at home. Perhaps it is deceit to call my problem “writer’s block” since it seemed to be more kin to a case of complete lack of motivation and focus. In any case, however, the new location, lack of chores, errands, and interruptions all came together like a fresh breath of air to clear a few of the cobwebs from my head and the glaze from my eyes. My only regret is that I could not stay longer. If a week-long vacation could do such wonders…

I’m attempting to continue the trend here at home: getting up earlier, maintaining a narrower focus, actually beginning the work (as my roommate pointed out yesterday, it is really the lag time before the task is begun that is the true reckoning force). It is not the same, however, when there are bills to pay, cleaning to be done, pets to be cared for, and packing to be planned, but if I try very hard I can still recapture a bit of the serenity and focus that I achieved during my little vacation and insert it into today.

January 26, 2010 Posted by | Detroit, Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Time Zone Trauma

One of the biggest challenges for travelers is coping with changes in time zone. Forget culture shock and climate change, time zones can really do you in! I have been experiencing a bit of this the past couple of days as I try to adjust from Pacific time to Eastern time. While traveling from the west coast to the east coast might not elicit such horrors stories as, say, a flight across the Atlantic, it can still kick your butt in its own way. Especially if you’ve been sleeping in a lot on the west coast….

Anyway, so what can you do to minimize the disruptive effects of jet lag? There are, of course, a number of chemical/herbal remedies out there, ranging from the use of melatonin (which could be useful if you need to go to sleep earlier than your circadian rhythm prescribes) to low doses of… Viagra… (Yes, you read that right, and I’m NOT suggesting it’s a good idea)! I believe, however, that one of the best ways to adjust yourself to the new time is to make sure you get a full night’s sleep on the first night immediately after traveling and then fully adopt the local time, embrace it, live it. In a few days you’ll feel invincible. And then, of course, it will be time for the return trip…

Back to my own story. I am currently unemployed and, as such, am running my own schedule (disaster, right?). Because I have a really long circadian rhythm (at least we hope it’s that and not just my inability to exercise self-control), my natural sleep time falls later and later each day. Therefore, when I am left to my own devices I tend to go to bed and get up a little later each day. It’s frustrating, but consistent. I guess if I just kept going, eventually I’d be back in sync with the rest of the world… In short, a week ago I was going to bed no earlier than 2am and getting up…. well, let’s just say that by the time I got up there weren’t many hours of daylight left. I found out that I had a one-day job assignment on Friday, so I took measures to begin preparing myself for my mandatory 7am waking time on that day (and I didn’t do a half-bad job), but I really wasn’t used to it by the time I flew to the east coast.

The night before flying I got about 5 hours of sleep and a couple more on the plane (which I don’t really count as restful sleep). As a result, my sleep bank had only a few pennies in it upon my arrival. I should have followed my own advice and gone to bed early that night, but my boyfriend and I had a lot to catch up on and ended up talking quite late, which meant that I slept in the next day, which meant that I needed a nap that afternoon, which meant that I wasn’t as tired as I should have been that night, which meant that I didn’t go to bed early, which meant that I slept late yesterday morning (it was 8am Pacific Time, but that doesn’t count when you’re in Eastern time!). My boyfriend goes to work early and I don’t see him until lunch, so there isn’t much of an impetus for early rising.

Point being, I messed up the very first day and (even though I was very tired) didn’t get a good night’s sleep right away, so drawing out the effects of jetlag. This morning I slept in again, some of my best sleep happening after about 8am. Sigh. It’s difficult to go to bed early when we have so many fun things planned for every day that I’m here in the area, not the least of which are all the great restaurants I’ve gotten to try in the area! But I’ll save that for another post.

January 19, 2010 Posted by | Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

%d bloggers like this: