August 10, 2010


Have you read Joy of Cooking?

If you haven't, I'd say it's time for a trip to Mom's house.  Maybe you don't remember seeing it there, but it is very likely that she has a copy.  Joy of Cooking is almost as ubiquitous as Betty Crocker, but the plain white cover is a little more non-descript.  Many of the recipes within are a bit more intermediate.

I received my copy from a very good friend as a wedding gift.  Every time I use it, I think happy thoughts about her.   I doubt that she knew at the time how dear her gift would be to me, but Joy of Cooking has long been the proverbial one-cookbook-I-would-take-with-me-if-I-were-stranded-on-a-dessert-island. You see, it not only has recipes that use the ingredients, Italian Tomato Paste and Cream Cheese, it also has recipes to make those specific ingredients (pages 574 and 537, respectively, in my reprinted 1975 Edition).   When I finally get up the gumption to make Sourdough Starter, I'll be on page 555.  I won't mention the 13 pages on "Variety Meats," but if I ever want to know how to make Pigs Knuckles and Sauerkraut, I will know where to turn (511).

For cooking nerds like me, in places it reads like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel.  For example, the recipe for Chocolate Eclairs (647) refers the cook to the preceding recipe for Cream Puff Shells, then asks the cook to choose a filling, "Whipped Cream, or Custard Chocolate or Coffee Fillings, 697."  Turning to page 697, the cook finds under the heading, "Custard Cream Pastry Filling," not only the vanilla, chocolate and coffee custards, but also banana. Back on page 647, the cook is referred to page 726 to choose between Chocolate or Caramel Icing.

Not only that, but these authors have a sense of humor.  From the introduction to Dried Legumes (286): "Dried peas and beans, being rather on the dull side, respond readily--like a good many dull people--to the right contacts..."

Now that we've established that Maria is more of a cooking-nerd than you had realized, on to the recipe, right?

The granola I make once a month to accompany my morning yogurt is from Joy of Cooking.  It is their Granola II (198).  No, I have not made Granola I or Granola III.   When I first wanted to make granola, I had all the ingredients on hand for Granola II, and I liked it so much that I have stuck with it.

Adapted from Joy of Cooking
Makes about 10 cups.

3 cups Old Fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1 1/2 cups wheat germ
1/2 cup dry milk solids
1 cup sliced or coarsely chopped almonds (I once swapped broken pecans for half of the almonds.)
1 cup shredded or flaked coconut (I might be cheating, but I do prefer sweetened flaked coconut here.  You can find the unsweetened variety in natural foods stores.)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 cup hulled sunflower seeds

Spread oats in 13x9" glass baking dish.  Toast in 300º oven 15 minutes, stirring once.

Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil and honey in small saucepan to combine.  In large mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients.  Pour vegetable oil-honey mixture over nut-grain-seed mixture and stir to coat. The wheat germ and dry milk solids make wonderful sweet clumps when the oil-honey is added.

Pour nut-grain-seed mixture into baking dish with oatmeal.  Toast an additional 15 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything is toasted.  Allow granola to cool in pan, then transfer to airtight container and store in refrigerator.  


  1. So Jessica and I are trying to see if we could make this for breakfast tomorrow without the dry milk (is dry milk the same as dry milk solids?) and she doesn't have dry milk. What would you substitute? Also, my go to cookbook is always Betty Crocker, I have rarely found Joy to be useful. Maybe I need to give it another chance.

  2. You could probably make it without the dry milk (and yes I think it is marketed as 'nonfat dry milk' these days.) I would just omit it. It does do something for the texture, but you'll be all right without it.

  3. I would die, absolutely die, without Joy of Cooking. I read it probably every day. I just got a new copy because my old one was in tatters, and I haven't yet thrown that copy out. Sentimental reasons. Love the granola!