Today I finally got back to something I used to do all the time: making granola for the family.
When I was a kid, granola was not, ever, on the menu. My mother was very much a meat and potatoes kind of cook, and breakfast for us was usually boxed cereal or, my personal favorite, peanut butter and bananas on toast. My daddy would wake me up early to sit with him before he went to work, and he always had two peanut butter and banana toast slices and a glass of milk ready for me when I came out. Whenever I think of school year mornings, these are the memories that keep me warm.
Once I was a single mom in college, though, my whole relationship with food changed. I worked at a natural food co-op in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in exchange for a discount on everything I purchased there. My roommate’s mother ran a wonderful whole food restaurant called The Bread Line where I spent a lot of time, and Molly Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook took over from Betty Crocker as my go-to cookbook. My roommate actually taught me how to make granola. She would do it about once a week, and the bowl would last us until almost the next week for breakfast and snacks.
After that, I made my own granola regularly, as often as I could. This was one thing I could do easily in Yemen, where the basic ingredients tended to be easy to find and inexpensive. For some reason, though, since returning to the States, I haven’t made a single batch of it. I decided last week that had to change, and this morning I made up a big batch, which I am sure will NOT last a whole week. The children ate some as a snack and love it, and my husband is looking forward to eating it tomorrow at breakfast.
So, I am going to share my recipe with you. Bear in mind, though, that I don’t measure any of the ingredients very accurately, and what goes into the granola ends up being what is on hand, or what is on sale this week!
This is where I would have a photo if I could figure out how to get photos to the computer. Sigh.
Our Crunchy Yummy Granola (or “banola” as Asmaa says)
6 cups of rolled oats (NOT quick or instant, you want the nice thick oats)
1 cup of nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, pistachios and sunflower seeds are favorites)
1 cup of coconut (or not, your choice)
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt (optional)
½ to 1 cup of good honey (REAL honey, not sugar syrup from China)
1 cup of raisins, cranberries, or dried fruits of choice
Option: switch out the dried fruit for CHOCOLATE CHIPS
Option: If you do that, and you like the synergy of chocolate and peanut butter, add three tablespoons almond or peanut butter (natural, without sugar or palm oil) to the honey- you may have to heat it up a bit to get it to incorporate)
1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F
2. Put a 13 by 9 inch cake pan over low to medium heat on the stove and add your oatmeal. Stay there, don’t go away and do anything but watch and stir occasionally until the oats start to darken a little bit and smell very, very good. This takes about 5 minutes
3. Add in the nuts and coconut and keep cooking and stirring for another 3 to 5 minutes
4. Add the cinnamon, salt and honey and stir very well to coat all the oats and goodies
5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes. Really, again, I recommend just staying there so that you don’t forget to stir. Stir from the bottom and the sides, to make sure that it cooks evenly and you don’t get any dark brown oats in there
6. Remove from the oven and add the dried fruits. If you are doing the chocolate chip thing, then let it cool for five or ten minutes and then stir in the chips to avoid a melty mess.
7. Let it cool completely, stirring every once in awhile
7. Store in an airtight container. I find that it will keep well for as long as it lasts, but if you are worried, stick it in the refrigerator if you have one
That’s it! Do you ever make homemade granola? Do you have ideas we could use to make ours better, or to make an exciting variation? I would love to hear your input and experiences below!