Browsing Tag


Granola + Goddesses

My little house smells like cardamom and almonds and coconut oil and maple syrup and oats because I just baked a pan of granola. It’s the first time I’ve baked granola since I moved out of my other house, which was also a bed and breakfast– which is to say since I left my marriage and set out into a hopeful and nearly blank new world less than eleven months ago.

Making granola feels important, because it is. I still know the recipe by heart. A recipe I came across or came up with ten years ago when my much younger family lived in India, and I had the biggest opportunity of my then-twenty-nine-year-old life to say, “This is not working for me; it’s time; I’m done.” For all I know, I might have used the very same Pyrex measuring cup today as I did then– we brought one with us to Mussoorie and back, and I moved one out with me when we divided up the kitchen things last year.

Baking and cooking feel important, because they are. Because, as the brilliant tent maker and kindred spirit Kurt Buetow said to me once, “food and shelter are our most basic instincts,” when I expressed some sheepish confusion at my love of forts and cozy spaces.

I spent seven years making granola and muffins and coffee cake and popovers for guests who stayed at the business I ran with my then-husband. I brought extras around town and dropped them off at the library, the folk school, the art colony, and I learned how to give from excess, not from my essential stores.

I think I learned, and am learning, the same thing with attention and love: giving from the excess, the overflow, the magically multiplying and abundant loaves and fishes, rather than in a way that drains the water table dry or leaves an afteraste of resentment when what’s left for me is not enough..

Earlier this fall, when I baked my first pie in a year, my first pie in my house that I bought with my aunt, I felt sad at first: this rolling pin, this pie plate– they were part of another life. But then I thought about how I have been making pies since I was very, very young. How I stood at my mother’s mother’s kitchen table dozens of times and she talked me through each step. It makes me miss her fiercely now, but as I rolled the crust out it was a comfort: this act reached much farther back than my marriage, farther back than my own lifetime, even. And I felt peace and the sureness of my knowing and my skill, and my love for the women in my family line in spite of all their wounds and human failings.

I didn’t feel sad at all to make granola. I felt peaceful. I’d just had a beautiful, normal, present, easy time with my son and his dad– and I felt so mixed already: to feel rightness and loss at the same time. But the baking was easy. The knowing and sureness and ease carried over into this life, this world.

“Is this the easiest path…? Of course not. But it’s the truest one.”

-Glennon Doyle, Untamed

So I drank my tea and I felt my feelings. I read about Ereshkigal, the unbeautiful Goddess of the underworld, killing the innocent and beautiful Inanna. I think Glennon Doyle is writing the same thing, that we do know the things that need to be killed, not as punishment but as transformation:

“I will not stay, not ever again… When my body tells me the truth, I’ll believe it.”

I made a second cup of tea, and when the timer rang I turned off the oven, stirred and stirred, and served myself a bowl of still-hot granola for lunch.

Pie Class

I taught my first pie workshop at North House Folk School to a group of 8th graders from the Virgin Islands!


I grew up in Braham, the Homemade Pie Capital of Minnesota. (Really– it’s official. We have a document from the governor).  Our Pie Day festival is the first Friday in August, and some 600+ fruit pies are made by volunteers each year. Plus, there’s a pie baking contest, a pie eating contest, and maybe a little pie-ing in the face.

some of the Pie Day volunteers. (photo source: facebook page)

I grew up baking pies with my grandma. There’s something deeply comforting in the twist of the pastry cutter through lard and flour, the clack of the rolling pin, and of course, the rich flavor of berry filling in a tender crust.

I approached North House Folk School with a bunch of ideas for baking classes (brunch, coffee cakes, Scandinavian pastries), and they loved the idea of a pie class.

Before my first class I called my mom up; I needed another experienced baker to be my sounding board. Was estimating half a pie per person too much? Was five pies in three hours totally crazy, especially with 12-year-olds?

Getting serious with a flow chart.

I’m happy to report that the class went wonderfully! The kids were great; they were creative with spices, and even did all the dishes!

We made

  • apple-cranberry galette
  • blueberry with a lattice top
  • whiskey-ginger-peach
  • mixed berry pocket pies
  • and cheater cherry pie (canned filling and homemade whipped cream)

Teaching pie baking revealed how much I know without knowing I know it. (For example, I had never noticed that I tap pie crusts to test they’re doneness).

I was also delighted to discover I wasn’t an uptight teacher. I always prefer baking solo, and I was a little worried they hyper-critical introvert cook in me might not enjoy this. But it was lovely. To be able to bake a pie feels like proof that you can survive in this world– not just on bread and water and potatoes, but that you can turn very simple things — flour, fat, water, salt, fruit– into something elegant, beautiful, and deeply satisfying.

I also realized that though the kids didn’t make stock photo-worthy pie crusts (an impossible first-time feat), even a messy pie is a beautiful pie. Brush a little egg wash on and the crust shines golden yellow. Didn’t pinch the crusts together properly? Oozing blueberry filling makes a pie look alive, real, made by a human being.

So, all in all, a VERY gratifying experience: delicious pies were made, kids were creative, and I even did some drawing that has me scheming about a hand lettered mini recipe book.

If you’d like to schedule a class, see the brochure or contact North House.


From the “ScandiKitchen: Fika & Hygga” cookbook.


I tend to get anxious about making yeast breads– What if it won’t rise? what if the milk was too hot and I killed the yeast? What if it was too cold and now nothing is happening?

This is also why planting seeds is hard for me– Is anything happening? How deep is 1/8th inch anyway? I killed everything and will never eat sweet peas again!

Nevertheless, I really love baking. I really love cinnamon and cardamom. And I really love beautiful things. And I had some back-up muffins in the freezer for our B&B guests in case this completely failed.

In spite of my stage-worthy drama, and after extra time in a warm oven, it all turned out fine. I even got to use my off-set spatula. 🙂

Sweden has a holiday for cinnamon buns: Kanelbullans Dag. I was told this came about after VårfrudagenOur Lady’s Day, (Our Lady = Mary), was misheard as Våffeldagen, or Waffle Day. (Yet another reason why Sweden is a great country!)




Give it a try:


Note the notes. My mom always checks off and dates a recipe when she makes it for the first time– maybe that’s the historical society director in her. She also makes a note for if she liked the recipe or not. I didn’t write it here, but I would make another half-recipe of the filling and spread it a bit thicker.