Friday, September 05, 2008

Granola Girl

Granola is one of my very favorite things. I’ll fight you to the death if you accuse me of being granola, and it is that precise connotation that leads me to rarely even use the word in a sentence. But see, I was raised by hippies. Not in a commune or anything like that, though my family is only slightly less odd, but where I come from, eating granola on an everyday basis is perfectly acceptable. To this day, I get a wee bit miffed when anyone laughs at the fact that I eat granola.

The stuff is just utterly delicious. It’s one of the only breakfast cereals that appeals to me, it makes a wonderful snack bar (which for some reason, no one has a problem with at all), it is a fabulous stir-in to vanilla yogurt, and I think it adds great texture when thrown into the blender while whirring up a smoothie. My uncle used to make granola when I was a kid, and one of my fondest memories is of him sneaking me out of bed one evening to munch on some freshly-made granola together after Mama had rightly sent me to my room early for some now-long-forgotten transgression.

The thing is I had never made my own granola before today. I became addicted to Kashi’s Orchard Spice when I was given a case of it this summer, but to buy it myself would break the bank. Then, my favorite vegetarian restaurant The Grit sent The Carnivore home with a big bag of their house granola recently, and I fell madly in love with it as well. To my chagrin, the recipe does not appear in their cookbook.

So I decided to bite the bullet and start looking around for a recipe to make my own. Amazingly though, even after my mini-tirade above about thinking people ignorant who would scoff at my granola cravings, I have always thought of granola-making as being a, well, a strictly hippie kind of thing to do.

Look, I never said I wasn’t capable of a double-standard.

The whole thing just seems so, I don’t know, zen, I guess. All this time I assumed I would have to find a recipe in some mimeographed 1970’s-era guide to life. I was sure that the ingredient list would be the kind of thing that would necessitate hikes to big-city health food stores, and I knew, just knew, the whole thing would be an hours-long affair.

I had horrifying visions of having to all join together, hold hands, and sing Kumbaya by the light of the moon.

So I avoided the whole prospect. Like the plague. Until this morning that is, when I ran out of granola and had nothing to eat for breakfast. I went to 101 Cookbooks for inspiration, trusting Heidi to have found a suitably natural granola recipe while still keeping me somewhere at least close to the mainstream, and she did not disappoint. Her recipe, taken from The Essential Guide to the Kitchen, came pretty close to what I had on hand so with a few minor substitutions, The Big Boy and I raided the pantry and set to work.

Turns out, granola is not only easy and relatively quick to put together, but is one of those framework recipes that I’m so fond of, whereby you can substitute to your heart’s content without sacrificing the general concept. Granola is, after all, different every time.


GRANOLA (adapted from The Essential Guide to the Kitchen, yields enough to share)
  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup sliced almonds (or whatever other nut strikes your fancy)
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut (if using unsweetened coconut, add 1/4 cup of honey to the measurement below)
  • 2 Tbs flaxseed meal (sounds hinky, I know, but can be found in any supermarket)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 Tbs sesame oil (use the light kind only - the dark one would be far too pungeant)
  • 1/4 cup dried apples, coarsely chopped (any dried fruits will work)
  • 1/4 cup dried peaches, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried strawberries, coarsely chopped
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, nuts, coconut and flaxseed meal.
  2. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the honey and oil, and stir for a couple of minutes, until warm and easy to stir.
  3. Pour the warmed honey and oil over the oat mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Spread the mixture in one very large jelly roll pan or two rimmed cookie sheets, and bake at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes (until browned and slightly crispy), stirring every 15 minutes or so.
  5. Set aside to cool. Mixture will dry up slightly and crisp up a little more as it sits.
  6. Pour the oat mixture into a large container and stir in the dried fruit.


Tudu said...

My Mother always had a huge glass container of homemade granola on the counter. When I was about 6 she and the rest of our family had left the house and forgotten me b/c I was in the restroom. Most kids would be scared but I was thrilled to be left alone with a fresh batch of granola. She came back the minute she realized they were down one and found me on the counter with my hand in the jar. Mmmm.

Sarah Beam said...

Tudu, that is the funniest story I've heard in a long time. And it sounds like something I would do, for sure.

Jill said...

Any idea how long this will store,I will likely be the only one eating this in the house,the others are not ready for the granola experience yet?

Sarah Beam said...

Hi Jill - this was the first time I have made granola, so I can't be altogether positive how long it will last. I put mine in a glass storage canister on Friday, and it was still delicious today for breakfast. I would imagine though, that it should last at least a couple of weeks if stored in an airtight container. There isn't anything that would go bad in the recipe - the object is just to keep it from tasting stale.

Morgan's Mom said...

I will definitely have to try this--I am a crack addict for the orchard spice granola as well.

I wonder if it's possible to put some pumpkin flavor into granola?

Sarah Beam said...

Morgan's Mom - toasted pumpkin seeds could be used in place of (or in addition to) nuts. I wonder though, if pumpkin flesh could be put through a food dehydrater and used as one of the dried fruits. Might be worth a try, but I'm not sure...

Sophie said...

Thanks for signing up for our blogroll :)! Your recipes and pictures look so delicious!