Staying at home more means stocking up on dried and canned goods.
It’s interesting that, while many U.S. retailers are declaring bankruptcy or closing altogether, home improvement stores and garden stores say their sales are booming. People are recognizing their homes for what they are: sanctuaries. Your home is a living space, not a storage space. In other words, your home is for people, not just a convenient place for your stuff. Part of creating a sanctuary is to include nature.
If you have a courtyard, consider yourself lucky. Lockdowns, shelters in place, and quarantines have highlighted the importance of personal outdoor space. A courtyard, patio or a veranda large enough for you to sit quietly among plants is a privilege in a dense city.
For many of us who live in cities, our countryside estates, nestled against a vineyard, are faraway dreams. How do we turn our little shelf of concrete into an oasis? If you are lucky enough to have a courtyard, you can turn it into a little sacred space.
- 3/4 cups unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 4 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup flax or millet seeds
- 1/4 cup unsweetened wheat germ
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 1/2 cups mixed dried fruits (cranberries, cherries, chopped apricots, figs, or raisins)
Preheat oven to 350F. In a small saucepan combine butter, honey, maple syrup and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Be careful to watch this as it can boil over.
Combine all the dry ingredients except the fruit in a large bowl. Pour the hot liquid over them and mix thoroughly with a large spoon or spatula.
Lightly oil a baking pan with vegetable oil. Don’t use olive oil or butter. Olive oil will impart an “off” flavor and butter will burn. Spread the mixture in the pan. Bake for about 15 minutes, mixing it every few minutes to keep it from clumping. After 15 minutes, remove from the oven and stir in the fruit. Mix thoroughly and spread it across the baking pan again. Return to the oven for another 30 minutes, mixing it again about halfway through.
It should be golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool before storing it in an airtight container.
A wine country kitchen is one that encourages gathering. The host should be able to continue preparing food while her guests hang out nearby.
Wine country kitchens are often larger than city kitchens. They should open directly to the outdoors. This provides an easy flow of movement of people and food.
I love islands because they separate the work area for the cook from the “chill out” area for guests. It’s hard to navigate around people perched in front the stove or leaning against the refrigerator.
My ideal kitchen also has a walk-in pantry, a beverage station with a small wine fridge, and a designated place for every utensil and tool.
These examples are exceedingly generous in terms of size — totally unrealistic for a smaller home. But a girl can dream, right?