Hello again. Given my record of inconsistent posting, it no longer even makes sense to apologize for/explain being away so long; I’m going to assume the privilege of an old friend and pick up where we left off.
We are in Tampa! We have been living here for two and a half months now, and the change has been really good. In fact, aside from discovering new depths of incompetence in a certain government contracting company that shall remain nameless, and missing a few very dear friends, it has been a great experience. We are roosting in a sun-filled apartment within walking distance of the bay. A quick glimpse from our windows would easily fool you into thinking we live in a tropical jungle. Every chance we get we stroll down to the water to watch sting rays, manta rays, sea turtles, dolphins, sharks, and dozens of fish whose names we don’t know. Yep, in case you have been wondering, runners of Tampa, we are that annoying couple walking really slowly, hanging over the balustrade, soaking it all in, while you are pounding the pavement. Give us time. We may eventually become jaded to 70 plus degree November days, and seeing the sun glint diamonds off of the waters of the bay. . .but I hope not! We spent a disappointing month shopping the local grocery stores to find them filled with really expensive produce that is often already going bad on the shelves, or, alternately, completely under-ripe and flavorless. I’m not just talking one store, I’m talking every store (yes, I’m talking about you Whole Foods, Publix, Winn-Dixie, and Fresh Market). We were throwing away a shameful amount of food because it was spoiling before we could use it. In the last two weeks I finally made it a priority to seek out some alternatives; the results were surprising! There is a farm hidden away on a cul-de-sac in south Tampa where you can get fresh eggs, raw milk, fresh from the hive honey, and so much more, on the honor system. I want to do a full post on this place soon, but if you are in the Tampa area and want to see for yourself, it is South Tampa Farm at 6101 s. 2nd st. Tampa, Florida 33611. there is a produce wholesale shop that welcomes retail customers (Sanwa Farmer’s Market) and a pretty cute veggie stand just down the road on Swann.
My mom came for a visit and took us to the 5th annual veg-fest, after which we went to a nearby power plant to see the manatees that collect in the heated waters at its base. I had a whirlwind day at Disney with one of my very best friends and her kids, and I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it more than any of the littles! I have no shame in being an adult disney lover. . .the magic is real. Thank you J.S. for sharing the nugs with me; it was wonderful being Aunt Brandy again for a day!
And, finally, I made a recipe I would love to share with you today. Based on the fantastic Sarah Britton’s Chunky Chocolate Buckwheat Granola, this version is lighter on oil, and has a kick of heat courtesy of my spicy friend, ginger .
Chocolate-ginger granola with buckwheat
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup buckwheat (I found this in the bulk bins at whole foods)
- 1 1/2 cups coconut flakes
- 1 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 5 dates, pitted and soaked in 1/4 cup milk of choice or water
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp fresh minced ginger
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees
- In a blender combine dates and their soaking milk, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract, ginger, and cocoa powder. Combine until mostly smooth; thin with extra milk of choice if needed (warm before adding).
- Combine dry ingredients in large bowl, mixing to evenly distribute.
- Pour chocolate mixture over dry ingredients and fold until evenly coated.
- Press evenly onto parchment paper lined baking sheet and place in oven
- Cook for 30 minutes, check and turn/stir as needed if outer edges begin to burn. As sarah b. says, tasting the hazelnuts is the best way to tell when this granola is ready.
- Cool completely before storing in air tight container.