OK. I suppose a note on my long absence is probably in order. Life has been busy. Not in a bad way, mind you. Just busy to where I have not been cooking and taking photos. It seems like cooking is something you do all the time anyway and taking photos is just a few clicks of a camera.
That is partially true. You do eat anyway, but sometimes you don’t really cook. You throw things together because it is easy. Or you rehash old recipes because it is easier than trying to find the time and energy for trying new things. That has kinda been my mode of late. And bad pictures are easy to take. Good ones… that I am still working on.
For now I will be posting sporadically as life continues to be busy. I will have relatives that are visiting from out of the country until the end of March so the hit and run style will have to suffice for now. But I do bring an offering:
I call this Kirsten’s Trail Mix for its most ardent fan; the friend who almost cried when she discovered that the last bag of my original mix had been left behind in the repacking of suite cases.
It’s not a recipe so much as a formula and an expression of taste. I am if nothing, a fanatical devotee of the hazelnut. I have never encountered a hazelnut preparation I did not like. And it was hazelnuts that started this idea in the first place.
This trail mix started out as a need. As most ideas do. A need for a portable, reasonably healthy snack food. While traveling, snack foods are easy to find. They usually come in the form of airport concessions and are loaded with fat, calories, and ingredient lists that require a PhD in chemistry to comprehend. I wanted something that I could tote along that I would include some protein for lasting energy and some sugars for a quick boost. Candy fulfilled the second part but was far short on the first.
So I settled on trail mix. The problem is, I don’t like most commercial trail mixed. They are packed with peanuts and other low quality nuts as fillers where as my favorites are hard to find. They are also mostly raw. Something that while healthier significantly diminishes their taste.
Nuts after all are at their best when toasted.
So I was left making my own.
In the end, that turned out to be a fortuitous thing as I happened upon a combination that was not only lauded by my fellow travelers but was good enough that the hosts at my destination stole the very last bits (stole being a relative term, of course).
The trick to this trail mix is a balance. A little salt, but not so much that it will make you thirsty and thus require you to *shudder* use the airplane restroom. And sweet, but no so much that you can’t eat more than a few bites at a time.
This was perfect for me but as with all things… your mileage may vary. Feel free to substitute as you see fit.
Kirsten’s Trail Mix
1 pound almonds, roasted and lightly salted 
1 pound cashews, whole or halves
1 pound hazelnuts
6 oz dried tart cherries
4 oz dried raisins, flame or white preferred
Dried pineapple rings, unsweetened (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 350
Place the cashews and hazelnuts on different sheet pans and roast until deeply golden. Stir every 5 minutes so that they roast evenly. This should take about half an hour or more. If the cashews are whole they will require more time.
Allow the hazelnuts to cool slightly then dump into a towel and rub vigorously to remove the skins. Pick out the clean ones and rub the remainder. A little bit of skin clinging to the hazelnuts is fine.
Mix together everything except for the pineapple and place in individual sandwich baggies. Tuck in three pineapple rings and push out all of the air as you seal the bag.
 Roasted unsalted almonds are hard to find and the full salt ones are too salty. I use Trader Joe's 50% less salt ones. They are perfect for this. If you can't find lightly salted almonds, you can use raw almonds (and toast them) and use another lightly salted nut. Or you can just use all unsalted nuts and add some pretzel nuggets to the mix.