It’s only been 5 months, but I think we’ve fully settled into our house. Or at least the idea of being in this place for the long haul. I already know most of the creaks in the floorboards, the way certain drawers in the kitchen need to be pushed in just a little harder, and the way our open slot mailbox will always deliver very crumpled mail. It feels good. Really good. However, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned our neighborhood.
We live a few blocks up from downtown. The city used to be the hub before ever was, so the houses in our area are old with lots of character. Ours was build in 1900, with a large garage that’s even older and was apparently at one time the main house. I read somewhere that back then people would plant fruiting trees in their yards when they first settled. They knew they may never get to enjoy the fruit themselves, but that the generations after them would and that thought alone was enough reason for them to plant.
Our yard has a giant, very old, cherry tree. Next door there’s another one. Behind us there is a pear and plum tree. Between the neighbors and us, we probably harvested over 50lbs. worth of plums. For two weeks there was plum butter, plum sorbet (a recipe that was too good not to share, but time got away from me… next year), plum crumble, and finally a freezer currently stocked with frozen plums. On the other side of us there are more apple and pear trees. If you can say anything about the generations that lived here before us, it’s that they must have loved the community and they must have loved food.
This is how I feel about our neighbors. Every single person we’ve met on our street has welcomed us. They’ve shared their knowledge on what they know about the area. We’ve had outdoor backyard movie nights and day hikes with the incredible couple next door. We gave away zucchini and squash and this week received a bag filled with pears. Our area doesn’t exactly have the best reputation, but that’s because most people look at it from the outside. This is a community that watches out for each other, shares, sits out on their front porches until the sun goes down and greets every passerby. In a generation where many people have never even talked to their next door neighbors, I’m happy to call this area home.
These were the pears from the tree next door. I think they’re beautiful in a rough and old-time way. They weren’t getting eaten fast enough so I made plans for pear sauce, made just like this apple sauce and the rest were made into pear chips. This granola is made up of several steps before you actually get to the granola making part, but I think it’s worth the effort. You can do it in stages, which makes it easier. Make a big batch of pear sauce and dried pear chips, then get to the granola another day.
Full of toasty walnuts and hazelnuts, and warm spices, it feels like a bowl of Fall. Alternatively I think it would be great made with applesauce and dried apples chips and they’re easier to find pre-made if you don’t want to make your own. This granola isn’t super sweet, but it’s great paired with yogurt for breakfast or if you shave in a bit of dark chocolate and serve over vanilla ice cream it makes an excellent dessert.
Pear Spice Granola
Pear Spice Granola / makes about 5-6 cups
I made dried pear chips similar to this method, but without the sugar or spices and pear sauce exactly how I made my homemade apple sauce.
4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons flax seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch sea salt
2/3 cup pear sauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dried pear pieces
Preheat oven to 325F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl combine the oats, walnuts, hazelnuts, flax seeds, spices, and salt.
In a smaller bowl mix together the pear sauce, maple syrup, and olive oil. Pour this mixture over the rolled oat mixture and stir until everything is wet and well combined.
Spread out onto the baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes, stir, then bake for another 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Watch carefully after stirring to avoid burning. Let cool, add the dried pear pieces and store in an air tight container.