You know what food trend I’ve never fully understood? The one about the hidden vegetables. The puree-something-your-kids-won’t-eat-and-bury-it-in-brownies! Add spinach to chocolate cake! Sneak cauliflower in pasta! Do whatever you can to trick them into eating nutrition!
I mean, I think I kind of understand it, or at least the premise of it: if you can add good-for-you foods to what someone normally eats without them noticing, then you get them to eat what they should while also eating what they want. Everybody wins! OK. But the problem is your kids still don’t like vegetables; they like chocolate cake, a chocolate cake that’s lying to them. Maybe I don’t get it because I don’t have kids? You can feel free to tell me what I’m missing.
Anyway, that said, you’ll see the irony in the recipe I’m about to give you, for what else but sweet potato brownies. Yes, they’re exactly like those crazy sneaky recipes I don’t understand. Yes, they use a pureed vegetable in the middle of a normal dessert. But, I made exception for them and baked them for two reasons: 1) The recipe already called for whole wheat pastry flour, and I like using whole wheat pastry flour in baking, and 2) I was curious, I’ll admit it, to see what a pureed vegetable could add to a chocolate brownie.
(Plus, bonus reason! I had a lone sweet potato in the fridge, begging to be used.)
There are some things in life that grow on you—places that get better every time you visit, favorite movies that catch you with something new each time you watch, people that seem funnier and smarter and kinder every single time you talk.
With these things, it’s rare you didn’t like them at least a little to begin with; you probably did. It’s just that, for whatever reason, when you liked them enough and kept experiencing them again and again, your affection kept increasing—and in continued exposure, you found the marvelous reality that discovery, even or maybe especially in something familiar, leads to greater love.
That’s how I feel about granola.
Our back story—mine and granola’s—is pretty ordinary: I had granola bars in the school lunches I made myself in high school. I threw them in my messenger bag in college. I even bought bulk packs at Costco or Sam’s when I worked my first adult job, so I could grab a couple to stick in my purse or to make a quick breakfast on my way out the door. You could say I always liked granola, and we spent many years on good terms.
But. Then sometime after I started this food blog, I decided to make granola (here and then here and then in bars last November, and there was also a batch last December 24 that I never told you about, which smelled sweet with cinnamon and cloves and Christmastime). I know it’s nothing difficult, baking granola. It’s as simple as stirring, spreading and putting in the oven. But over the last year or so, I’ve discovered how much better granola can taste when it’s homemade, fresh out of the oven, fragrant and golden with clumps. I’ve discovered that I like it in a bowl, with milk; spread over yogurt, with or without fruit; eaten straight from the pan, in big fistfuls I bring to my mouth.
Meatloaf is one of those things it’s not hard to do badly, and we’ve all had the brown mush that proves it, the kind that blends enough vague ingredients to create an end product bearing no resemblance to real food. Try one bad enough, and you’ll never want to eat it again, I know.
That’s probably why, until last weekend, I’d have been completely happy to live the rest of my life without it. I’d stick to things I could recognize, thank you very much.
But that has all changed.
Hear me out: now that I’ve tasted how good a meatloaf can be—how crazy, crazy good it can be—I know I would have been severely missing out. I was wrong. I was blind. And before you make a similar mistake, try this turkey loaf, which uses ground turkey rather than ground beef to make a flavorful, moist, glazed kind of meatloaf unlike any I’ve had before.
Seriously? It’s enough to redeem the food forever, for all mankind.
Like I said last month, book reviews aren’t really the emphasis of this site, but we’ll make exceptions. Since Grow Great Grub has inspired me to launch past my existing gardening attempts (i.e., beautiful summer tomatoes and a sad Meyer lemon tree) into the world of potted herbs (stay tuned!), I thought you might like to hear about it, too.
I was so excited to get a review copy of this book because the whole point of it is that not only can you garden anywhere, but also you can grow food anywhere —even in the city, even in a small space. Rather than fancy pots or planters, you’ll see gorgeous photos of seeds sprouting in repurposed tins, wooden crates, trash cans, even toilet paper rolls in this book. There’s attention given to making these creative gardens aesthetically pleasing as well as practical, which anyone in a small space would recognize as important and which I think makes the process seem much more approachable and worth trying.
I love reading about bloggers who became authors, particularly ones who were blogging when I was in high school, which was a time when, let’s be honest, I didn’t know what a blog was. That’s exactly the story of Gayla Trail, who has grown her YouGrowGirl.com site (launched February 2000) into a community of modern gardeners filled with forums and articles, as well as written two books: You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide to Gardening and now Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces.