A couple weeks ago, my talented baker friend Jess and I drove to Wandawega to spend two days making Christmas gifts and crunching around in the woods. We left on a Sunday afternoon and arrived after dark. I really wanted to sleep in the treehouse, which was in mid-construction phase during my last visit, but there’s no heat up there, and well, we’re wimps. Instead, we stayed in the charming (and heated) two-bedroom cabin with sweeping views of the lake. The place was closed (officially), so unofficially, we were the only lucky ones at the resort, and the silence was magic, exhilarating even. Nothing but bird songs, the dull clamor of wooden spoons to ceramic bowl and the sound of own voices.
Since Jess makes a living in her kitchen and I usually have two little boys circling my legs in mine, it felt like such a luxury to set up shop in someone else’s kitchen– especially one with an oversized oven, uncluttered counter space and more antique dinnerware and beautiful vintage utensils than you can ever imagine. Soon enough, it smelled like roasted pecans and ginger, and the days went by in a slow, comfortable rhythm of measuring oats, refilling coffee cups, collecting evergreen branches and cutting fabric squares. In between, we knitted, took long walks and even managed to get a canoe in the water at dusk. Walking the property and ducking in and out of the buildings (Jess had never been and I think an appropriate description of her reaction would be blown away), I can’t believe how much has changed in the last two years. There’s a tiny new cabin, two really enchanting teepees, a vintage tin can trailer waiting in the wings for Tereasa’s magic wand, and my favorite, a Harry Weese-designed shower house. That’s right: Harry Weese designed a shower house for a girl scout camp down the street (!!), and David and Tereasa rescued it this summer (like so many boy and girl scout camps, it closed, sadly). They wheeled it down the road, spruced it up and there it stands–a Harry Weese shower house at Wandawega.
We left feeling immensely productive and equally relaxed–two polar-opposing conditions that don’t coexist easily during the holidays–and in addition to a chunky cream seed-stitch scarf I knitted for a friend, we took home a couple dozen mason jars of the very best granola I’ve ever tasted. It was a good trip. See below for the recipe. Go, bake and be merry.
Holiday Granola by Jessica Hicks of Astro
Mix together in a large bowl:
14 cups rolled oats (about 3lbs)
4 ½ cups pumpkin seeds
4 ½ cups coconut
1 ¼ cups brown sugar, packed
1 ½ Tbls cinnamon
4 tsp fine salt
2 ½ cups pecans, broken
zest of 3 oranges
In a separate bowl, whisk to combine:
2 cups maple syrup (grade b or c has more flavor)
1 cup olive oil
2 1/2 cups apple sauce
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
Add the wet mixture to the dry, fold to thoroughly coat the dry mix. Spread on 2 or 3 baking sheets and bake for 50-70 minutes at 330 degrees (times vary greatly depending on your oven), stirring a couple of times to ensure even baking, until the mixture is golden brown. Ten minutes before the end of baking time, stir though:
2/3 cup maple syrup, extra (optional). This will give the granola a lovely glisten.
Remove from oven and immediately stir through:
3 cups dried cranberries
2 cups finely chopped crystalized ginger
Cool on trays, turning occasionally so as to keep the granola from sticking to tray, and store in airtight jars.