The Best Granola

Diana Santospago, owner of The Inn at Isle au Haut, charmed me with her edibles the first time I met her at a dinner party hosted by Linda Greenlaw.


A lovely woman with great character Diana arrived on the small Maine island a member of a rock band and stayed to marry a local fisherman. She thinks she runs an inn, but her guests all know she really runs the base of an island playground where the everyday is more about discovering nature and the pleasure of taking in a breath of fresh island air. 

As a guest of the inn my day often begins with a delicious homemade breakfast followed by a day on the trails. After a bike ride to the nearest Acadia National Park trailhead I’ll make my way through the woods and along the shoreline to climb Duck Harbor Mountain. The view from the summit of Penobscot Bay and surrounding islands is exceptional.

One of the best gifts Diana has given me is her granola recipe. I’ve been doing my best to replicate it since my first stay. I enjoy it with goat milk yogurt

Homemade Inn at Isle au Haut Granola

Heat oven to 325.

6c old-fashioned rolled oats

1c crushed pecans

1c crushed walnuts

1/2c hulled pumpkin seeds (I only include these in October/November)

1/2c hulled sunflower seeds

1t cinnamon

1t coarse salt

8T (1 stick) unsalted butter (I prefer Kate’s Butter)

2/3 c honey (THE best is by Day Break Manor available @ Treats in Wiscasset, ME)

1t pure vanilla extract

1c raisins

1c dried cranberries

(Diana notes if you like it really fruity, add 1c dried apple pieces. I add 1c dried apricots.)

In a large bowl stir together oats, pecans, walnuts, seeds, cinnamon & salt. In a saucepan melt butter & honey together over low heat. Stir in vanilla & pour over oat & nut mixture. Toss to combine.  Spread the granola out on two large rimmed baking sheets. Bake, stirring every few minutes until lightly brown & crispy, about 15-20 minutes. Be careful not to overbake. The granola will get crispier as it cools. Cool the granola and stir in fruit.

Diana and I keep our granola in a gallon glass jar tightly covered. It looks pretty and stays fresh.



Oyster Invitational

The oyster extravaganza B&G Oysters held in the South End of Boston this past weekend to celebrate their 5th patio season was everything a die-hard oyster lover could want. For $45 pp my friend and I enjoyed unlimited oysters, an oyster shucking demo and a chef’s competition for Best Original Raw Presentation.



How to Shuck an Oyster by the guys at Island Creek Oysters

Salsa Night

When I lived in LA a friend organized “Sundays at Seven.” A weekly ad hoc gathering of friends meant to extend the weekend and divert attention from returning to our challenging work environment the following day. We would enjoy margaritas, food and conversation.

I’ve continued this tradition in Boston where some of my neighbors are also good friends. Last night was our first Sunday at Seven in 2009.  The menu as is custom was by theme not assignment. Bring whatever you want, but think Latin. The tables were filled with mojitos, spicy lemonade, salsas, and fried plantains. A former chef my friend James brought maiz asado (grilled corn with allioli, garlic, and Manchego cheese).

Following is my  recipe for homemade corn, bean salsa.

Corn & Black Bean Salsa

1c cooked black beans (I follow the ingredients on the bag or in Mark Bittman’s instructions and let sit overnight)

1 11 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained

3 or 4 medium tomatoes, chopped (depends on the consistency you want)

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro

3/4 c. diced red onion

1 clove garlic

1/4 c. fresh lime juice (about 2 limes, squeezed)

1 t. salt

Combine all ingredients. Cover and chill for at least one hour. Serve with chips.


Spring’s Bounty with Chef Michael Salmon

Apprehensive about an upcoming dinner party? A little too familiar with the delivery guy? Maybe you just want to learn some basic cooking techniques that will help you impress your friends and not break the budget.

A hands-on cooking class can be an exciting and fun way to hone your culinary skills.

I love to eat and have a lot to learn about cooking. Luckily I have a few friends who are chefs who over the past couple years have taught me a lot about what to do and not do (trust me I could probably write a blog on my mishaps) in the kitchen.


One of the first cooking classes I took was with Michael Salmon, Chef/Owner of the Hartstone Inn and its Camden, Maine restaurant. We learned to make pasta! Everything from making the dough, coloring and flavoring different pastas, rolling out and cutting various shapes of pasta, filling pastas such as raviolis and tortellini and cooking pasta. A few weeks later I purchased a pasta maker.

May 16 and 17 Michael will celebrate his commitment to sourcing locally grown and/or produced ingredients with the class “From the Spring Garden.”  Students will work off a menu that reflects the season’s bounty including Seared Sea Scallops with Spring Pea Cream and Smoked Salmon, Grilled Salmon Niçoise with Fiddlehead Ferns and Spring Asparagus, and Spring Rhubarb Crème Brûlée with a Lemon Madeleine.

Afterwards sit your friends around a table to share a meal with what you learned!


My Organic Kitchen Garden

Several months ago I hosted a dinner party for Eric Ritter, a very talented (and sustainable minded) craftsman from Maine who I will dedicate a post to down the line. He and his wife have transformed a rundown property in Southern Maine into a gorgeous spectacle of architecture and gardening. Eric saw my ample deck space with what I thought was an attractive sitting area and declared it should be repurposed for urban farming. At first my neighbors and I laughed about it, but then it seemed so obvious. How could I live a sustainable life and consider myself a health-conscious foodie without optimizing this space for growing food. Thus I committed my deck space to a shared urban farming venture with my neighbors. With a resident architect and natural green thumb who loves designing and building at the helm we made our shopping list and headed out to Lowe’s for lumber and a local greenhouse for dirt and seedlings to fill our boxes and pots.

During the next several months I will be posting about our foray into vertical agriculture.

Our inspiration.

Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt from Life Magazine.

The Bright Side

Alex Randall (aka Jericho Hands) brings a bit of nature inside with her taxidermy inspired lights. Using a combination of reclaimed items and new technology Alex creates lighting that stands the test of time. Currently she is working on new methods of environmentally friendly lighting with a leading technology company. Her lights are signature pieces that will set a room (or for that matter an entire residence) apart.




Live Anywhere, Have it Delivered

While living in a small town I could not always find what I needed locally thus the occasional two or three hour drive to a city where I could. As time went on I found myself spending less time on the road and more time on the Web tracking items down. These days it seems one could live anywhere and have the world delivered to their doorstep thanks to UPS.

Can’t find the new Brad Gooch bio on Flannery O’Connor at your local library ask the librarian about requesting a copy. Don’t want to wait visit INDIEBOUND to find independent bookstores in your area. All of the above fail there is always Amazon.


Want to start an organic kitchen garden, but don’t have any friends with a green thumb, a local nursery stocked with organic soil or a pick up truck to cart the lumber back home. EARTHBOX may be your answer. Their Organic Ready to Grow Complete Kit @ $59.95 includes self-watering patio container garden with organic potting mix, fertilizer and natural dolomite.


For organic seeds visit

A personal favorite for online shopping is GAIAM. Friends got me started on their yoga DVDs, a great alternative to heading outside in winter temps to make a 6:15AM class. Incentive to head to class pick up their fashion forward and environmentally friendly Beau Yoga Mat Tote (Gray) or Palazzo Pant (Black) made of organic cotton.

For cameras, lenses and photo/printing gear my fail safe is B&H Photo.

Trouble with the local cable provider or satellite there are plenty of options online. HULU is fun for past episodes of Hell’s Kitchen or catching the pilot of Parks and Recreation. Netflix is like Hanukkah or Christmas all year long. For a moderate monthly fee members will receive a little red envelope in the mail with episodes of Mad Men, Big Love and Weeds (Season 4 is due out in June). Recently Netflix also began offering some programs online.


Austin Hipster & Web Designer Extraordinaire


To know Brian Willson is to know Texas (and Texas Longhorns football!).

While I was trying to figure out how to add a photo for my road trip post Brian got a good chuckle remembering his experience with Cadillac Ranch.

From Brian “I was actually in the big ol’ house of the guy (Stanley Marsh 3) who planted those cars out front. Some friends and I even carried Stanley’s entry in the Tri-State Fair Parade that year (three giant primary-colored letters that spelled “ART” — except we also spelled “RAT” and “TAR” occasionally). What a weird dude. As I recall his house had a monkey room and a grand piano that Van Cliburn had scratched his name into. His huge back green field had enormous billiard balls in it.”

Drive She Said

Cadillac Ranch by Sandra Freyler

In 2001 I traveled from Los Angeles to Maine with one of my best friends in a black sport utility we’d nick named “Black Dog” in honor of Led Zeppelin. It was to that song we drove into downtown Camden, ME and our VIP access, premieres and beachfront haunts slipped into memories. As the sunset and new friends poured drinks I thought of my time on the open road. Simply said nothing beats it. The wind in your hair, great unknown and adventurous spirit a welcome constant.

The Grand Canyon is the only place we could imagine starting our journey and so it was with this landscape we headed down the highway.

In Santa Fe we purchased beautifully crafted silver and turquoise jewelry, filled our bellies with traditional Southwestern fare like chicken enchiladas with mole sauce, visited a number of galleries around The Plaza and admired the sheer number of strands of dried red chiles which seemed to hang everywhere.

Austin was full of cheerful hipsters, a brightly painted motel I think has gone out of business, outside dining at local landmark The Shady Grove, really good coffee and a considerable selection of music (pre iTunes when one still shopped in person for music) at Waterloo Records.

In Amarillo we visited a cattle yard, got lost trying to find Cadillac Ranch (we eventually found the ten Cadillacs half buried in a cow pasture) and moved on to Fort Worth where we toured the National Cowgirl Museum and opted out of a mechanical bull riding session. After a somber visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and welcome visit with family we landed in New Orleans in time to venture down Bourbon Street. Apart from the elegant Commander’s Palace I’m not sure what remains from our visit. Surely the cemetery and Café Du Mondewith its delicious coffee and beignets, but what of the engaging and fun people we met.

A couple hours south of Birmingham we scored by a tour of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio were everyone from Lynrd Skynrd to Etta James recorded hits and retraced the steps of the Selma-to-Montgomery March. With these lessons in history we realized taking time to explore America was really a no brainer.

For more pictures of Cadillac Ranch check out

about this blog

About Me Sharon Kitchens and Delicious Musings. Welcome and thank you for visiting my blog. I write about all the things I enjoy - Culture, Food, Photography &Travel. Read more on my about page.


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