Food On The Hill: Apple Currant Coriander Granola

Dorothy Hoard on Beanfield Mesa Oct. 27, 2012. Photo by Felicia Orth
 
By FELICIA ORTH
Los Alamos

Dorothy Hoard was, from the beginning, a steady and popular leader of many of the outdoor adventures offered by the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC).

She led many, many hikes over the years: to teach about plant identification, to preserve dendroglyphs, to explore Bandelier and the Valles Caldera, to visit homesteader sites, to protect cultural sites in White Rock Canyon and historic roads, and to check on ecological recovery following catastrophic fires.

The last time I hiked with her (and about 48 others) the PEEC blurb said only that it was to “Beanfield Mesa.” Where was this? It didn’t matter—it was a chance to hear Dorothy talk about the history of the Pajarito Plateau on a beautiful day outdoors.

We met at the cemetery and started walking. An hour later, it became clear that we were on the mesa directly behind my house, just across Rendija Canyon, and had a clear view of a deck near our back fence.

Dorothy’s lessons that day included human history, fire ecology, plants, birds (raptors) and an embarrassed laugh at myself that I knew so little about the fire-swept mesa that fills the view from our backyard. I’d walked there but not known the hardships of the homesteaders who grew beans and drove them to Santa Fe to barter for other foodstuffs.

I’d seen the raptor traps but not known what they were. The following week, my husband and sons joined me as I tried to retrace the hike and share some of the history and information Dorothy had shared with dozens of us the week before.

Dorothy embodied PEEC’s mission to connect the community to the canyons, mesas, mountains and skies of the Pajarito Plateau, and had she lived to see the opening of the new Nature Center she would have been proud and very pleased.

When I was planning special snacks for the related events, I wanted to honor Dorothy’s memory by making granola she would have liked. She liked apples a lot, and took them on hikes. She enjoyed something once I made with coriander. So I adapted a recipe shared by Marilyn Yeamans to incorporate apples and coriander, and used sunflower seeds instead of almonds to include the more ancient protein-rich seeds that were once relied upon by Native Americans in this area for nourishment.

Then I turned to the only person I could have asked to help with making 350 cups of granola and scooping it into individual zipper bags to share ─ my mom. Lynne Orth flew in from Chicago, and we spent two days working on nothing but granola ─ chopping, measuring, mixing, baking, and scooping. Thanks, Mom! And the next time you visit, we can walk over to Beanfield Mesa and I can show you around, thanks to Dorothy.

This Week’s Recipe: Apple Currant Coriander Granola
 
Photo by Felicia Orth

Ingredients:

4 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick cooking)
1 cup sunflower, shelled (can substitute any nut)
½ cup shredded, unsweetened coconut (available in Smith’s bulk section or at Co-op)
½ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) hulled
½ maple syrup
3 tablespoons coconut oil (can substitute canola oil)
1 tablespoon coriander
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup dried apple rings, chopped (rings available in Smith’s bulk section or at Co-op)
1 cup currants (can substitute raisins or other dried fruit)

Preparation:

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. On the paper or in a bowl, toss the first seven ingredients. Bake, tossing once or twice, for 30 minutes, until toasty-colored and crisp. Add the dried fruit, toss to combine and let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.  Crispness will increase as it cools. Keeps for three weeks if stored in a cool, dry place. Makes 8 cups.

The granola makes a nice snack out of hand, added to a bowl of cereal, or sprinkled on top of yogurt.

Felicia is a local home cook; she can be reached at orthf@yahoo.com.

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