Do you cook in phases? And by that I mean “get obsessed with making certain foods” in phases. The homemade pasta phase and the sourdough bread phase come to mind for me. I find it hard to rein in the compulsion. Must. Make. X. [Confession: I am currently operating under (through?) a Mexican food obsession. Poor DH has eaten South-Western/Mexican food for the past three nights, and one of those days–and this was not all my doing–he ate burritos for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And he’s not the one with the obsession. My only defense is that spring is making me crave light, bright flavours and less stodge. Plus it’s just so delicious.]
So my current (other) cooking phase is granola. This one has been on repeat sporadically for the past five years or so. Why is that? Why do I dredge up a recipe/method for something and then moon over it like an adolescent with a crush? This is not a rhetorical question: do you know why? Anyway, this time I know where it all started. With Ms. Hannah herself, when she innocently sent me a link to a blog post and recipe about chocolate granola. Two great things put together and considered respectable breakfast fare. And dessert fare, for that matter. I don’t have a lot of time these days, but I will make time for that granola.
The other reason why this fit so well into my life at this moment is that I’ve been mulling over our family’s breakfast choices and come to the conclusion that–and I know many will disagree with me; feel free to–highly processed breakfast cereal is kind of, well, terrible for us. Don’t get me wrong–I’m a total hypocrite with a box of multigrain cheerios on my cupboard–but I have just started to think, after much reading and mulling and experimenting with how my body feels, that it’s not the healthiest choice. The most convenient? Oh yes. Isn’t that what breakfast cereal prides itself on (if it could feel pride)? But I wondered what other options, not-so-much-less-convenient options, we were overlooking.
All this rambling is to say that I was looking to get away from what had become a convenient norm, but that wasn’t satisfying my desire for home-processed, simple, whole-food breakfast. Enter Hannah’s suggestion–I think she said, Make this!–or maybe I just want to think she did. Now, chocolate might not be the common choice for breakfast, but in my mind, chocolate is an anytime food. Plus, I’d made several kinds of granola before, and this was the first chocolate one. Needless to say, it went over well. And it satisfied my desire for a healthier, and also more interesting, morning choice. So I wanted to make another batch. As Little e says, Need more ‘ganoya’.
This time I went back to my old standby, The Rebar Cookbook, and missed around with their great granola recipe, as they encourage you to do. I only had not-so-healthy dried fruit in the house (read: candied fruit), but I promised myself that the next batch I made would be virtuous at all angles. Plus, this batch had locally grown and processed oats. So there.
I’m finding that my yogurt just isn’t the same without the numbly crunch of granola–it’s elevated and made more complex–so with generosity in mind (don’t you want elevated yogurt?), here’s my recipe adapted from Rebar.
Almond, Pumpkin Seed and Cranberry Granola
Note: I often don’t measure things for this recipe so much as eye-ball and then all an extra handful of everything. Because more granola is better.
3 cups large flake oats
1 1/2 cups barley flakes (I used rye this time; you can mix it up)
1/2 cup oat bran
1 cup unsweetened coconut (I’ve used the large, curly flakes too, and they work nicely)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup nuts (I used blanched slivered almonds, but I’ve also used hazelnuts, walnuts and pecans. Chop ’em if they’re big.)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (raw)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (I sometimes go all pumpkin)
1/2 cup hemp seeds (you could use sesame if you like)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
2/3 cup sweetener (maple syrup and honey are great, but expensive. I used golden (not corn) syrup.)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup dried fruit (Cranberries, clearly. And/or blueberries, or sour cherries, my fave. Or, this time, candied mango and pineapple. I know.)
Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the oil, water, sweetener and vanilla. Combine wet and dry mixes and stir thoroughly. Spread the mixture onto two large baking sheets (I like to line with parchment) and press down firmly. Make sure it’s in an even layer all the way to the edges. Bake at 350 (Rebar says 250, but I find that takes a crazy long time and I am impatient.) 350 means you need to hover a bit, but gets the job done much faster. Check the pans after 15 minutes and if it’s starting to darken a little, turn the granola over with a spatula and return to the oven for another 8-10 minutes. Keep a sharp eye. It will darken at the edges the most, but should be golden brown throughout. Sometimes I find one pan darkens more than the other, but once mixed together, the flavour evens out. Cool on the pans and then add the dried fruit. This granola can be stored for a month in an airtight container.