- making bread dough
- making cranberry sauce
- rolling out pie crusts
- smacking myself for ordering a 20 pound turkey
- readying beds for guests
- peeling / cooking / mashing sweet potatoes
- paying bills
- making sure my tablecloth shows no evidence of last year's gravy
- making sure I know what to do when the oven freaks out mid-turkey, which happens every year
- figuring out what made me walk into a pole this morning / trying not to do that again, at least not in front of people
- doing something useful with my life
- becoming a better person
- standing up taller / sitting up straighter / telling funnier jokes / being less annoying, in general
- helping an old lady / old man / blind person cross the street
- plucking the woolly pills off my cheap sweaters
- buying nicer sweaters
- eating more pudding
What I shouldn't be doing:
- writing this.
Recipe for Vanilla Spice Poached Pears with quick homemade granola and Greek yogurt
Despite its elegance and the numerous words in the recipe title, this breakfast -- which makes a splendid offering for overnight guests -- is easy. E-A-S-Y. It will also make your entire house smell like lemon, vanilla, and spices. NOTE: The pears do need plenty of time (45 minutes?) to cool in their syrup, so plan accordingly. You can make the granola while the pears poach and cool.
Flo Braker's Baking for All Occasions (Chronicle, 2008), a book I was proud to consult on back in 2006, inspired my poaching method. I also, as an aside, bake her Cinnamon Bubble Buns every year around this time; according to my children, this year will be no exception.
Makes 6 servings
6 small, firm-but-ripe Bartlett pears (mine were 4 ounces each, but you have some leeway)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 thick slice lemon
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 to 1 whole cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1-1/2 cups coconut (I use unsweetened desiccated, but you can certainly sub sweetened, flaked)
1 cup whole almonds, rough-chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Plain Greek yogurt, for serving
Pears: Peel the pears, leaving a little peel and the stem on top for show. Gently scoop out the bottom core with a small spoon or melon baller.
Set the pears aside, and place 4 cups of cold water and the remaining pear ingredients (sugar through cardamom) in a 4- or 5-quart (medium) saucepan. (Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, and place the seeds and pod in the water.) Bring just to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the pears, reduce heat to low, and place a little parchment circle directly on top of the fruit to keep it submerged. (Flo says you can use a paper towel.)
Simmer very gently, uncovered, until pears are just tender when pierced, turning them around a few times so all sides poach evenly. This will take about 15 minutes, depending on the size of your pears. Remove from heat and let pears cool completely in the syrup. (If making ahead, cool to room temp, then refrigerate pears in their syrup, discarding the lemon slice and cinnamon stick.)
Granola: Preheat the oven to 325. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or silpat.
In a large bowl, whisk the oil, honey, and vanilla until completely combined. Dump in the oats, coconut, almonds, and cinnamon, and give everything a good stir, coating all the dry ingredients evenly. Scrape onto the prepared baking sheet, and bake, stirring every 10 minutes, for about 25 to 28 minutes, or until nice and brown. Cool.
To serve, set each pear in a shallow bowl. Spoon a little granola around it and dollop with yogurt. Sprinkle yogurt with some poaching liquid, if desired.