Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Crazy Granola-Making Hippies

The other day, my good friend Erin--writer of the ever-useful blog Myrtles and Muffins and cohort in many silly adventures through adolescence and summer camp- asked me if I had a post on making granola. And I honestly thought I did because I make it quite often at home. But after checking my archive I realized that we were both delusional and I needed to write said post so we could stop imagining things.

So, Erin, this post's for you....

If you grew up in my house, I don't have to explain that anything that has to do with hippies is total taboo. My father bravely served our country as a Green Beret in Vietnam and did not survive so he could raise some sandal-wearing, pot smoking, granola eating, Beatle-loving ingrates. I really really  took all of this to heart as a kid....well, I did wear sandals but I honestly didn't know a single Beatles song until I  started dating Mr. Devlin (who was shocked beyond words-and that's really saying something). As his parents were at Rutgers during that same period in history, he was raised in an environment of folk songs and "interesting " stories.

 We come from such different worlds sometimes.

Needless to say, I didn't develop a love for granola until long after married and well into my "let's make what we can" stage of domestic evolution. This was before it seemed like everyone had their own recipe so I thought I was hot stuff.

But, seriously, is there any thing else that can make your house smell so good as a batch of granola toasting? I would totally recommend it to those of you trying to sell your house--work up a batch before a showing and see if it doesn't top the ol' "cookies in the oven" routine.

And so, I give you my granola recipe; it's an ever-evolving thing, depending on what I have in the pantry. Experiment with what you love as far as dried fruit and nuts.

Speaking of nuts (no, not the hippies), I used to just rough chop whatever nuts I had laying around and toss them in with the oatmeal to roast but lately, I have stopped doing that after an incident where I burnt all the almonds in the batch. So now I recommend that you toasted the nuts separately on a sheet pan for 7-10 minutes and give them a rough chop with the knife so they are more pleasant in the mouth. Use about a cup to 2 cups of whole almonds, pecans or walnuts. (I have seen recipes with peanuts that also uses peanut butter but I haven't gotten that far yet-I still love me some traditional stuff).

So, preheat the oven 325 and roast the nuts you are planning to use. Make sure to set a timer and just set them aside when they are done.

In a large bowl, mix together
8 cups of oatmeal, old-fashion rolled oats work well but I have also used steel-cut
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup wheat germ (optional)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (optional)
the oil will just sit on the top
so please be careful not to
splash yourself

In a small saucepan, add the following:

7/8 cup vegetable oil (I prefer canola or safflower)
1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 cup of either honey or REAL maple syrup (or a combination of the two)

Over medium heat, stir these all together just until the sugar dissolves and there are no lumps. You aren't trying to get it to a specific temperature or take it to a simmer-just trying to make the mixture liquid. The oil will rise to the top all the time and the sugars will sink so just keep stirring. When your mixture is evenly blended, remove from the heat and add 1 tbs vanilla extract.

Pour the contents of the saucepan over the oatmeal mixture in the bowl and stir with a large, heat-proof spatula until everything is coated, being sure to get all the dry stuff coated.

Because this makes a lot of granola, it is easier to use two large cookies sheets that have been covered with either silpats or parchment (only use aluminum foil if you have the heavy duty stuff-you'll be stirring the granola up a bit and the thinner stuff will tear). Level out the granola over the two sheets evenly and place in the oven. Set a timer for 10 minutes and let bake.

When the timer is done, stir up the granola, rotating the sheets top to bottom and turning the pans. Continue baking for 5 minutes before repeating the steps. You will continue this step for a total of 20-30 minutes (depending on your oven and the ability to hear your timer). The goal is to have evenly-toasted, golden brown granola.

When you have achieved that, remove the pans from the oven and let them rest on a cooling rack, stirring now and the to remove steam until the pans are completely cooled. Now you can pour it all back into the big bowl you started with (that obviously, you've washed and dried).
apricots, raisins and
cranberries with
chopped pecans

At this time, you can stir in the nuts and 2 cups of whatever dried fruit you like--raisins, cranberries, chopped apricots, chopped prunes, mango pieces, chopped pineapple, blueberries, strawberries, cherries. There is so much to chose from so go crazy. The only dried fruit I wouldn't add is banana chips because they just get kind of soggy later.

Put your granola in an air-tight container. I use a couple of ziploc bags myself and generally, I try to use up the granola within the month. Keep in a cool, dry place for storage.


Erin said...

Thanks!!! And I must admit, I giggled that I am in a post entitled "Crazy Granola-Making Hippies". My parents would shudder lol!

Mrs. V said...

tee hee I know! I'm sure my mom will assure me that my memory of all things childhood are skewed (of course they are-it's my perspective lol)

Erin said...

Haha. Usually these conversations with my mom end with her reminding me of all the things I did as a teen that she never learned about until I was way too old to ground.

Mrs. V said...

lol my mother would say you was aware of what i was doing but chose not to tell my father because he might not understand....and it's true-she saved my butt from certain destruction many many times!

Principalk said...

I love this post as I discovered Berkies and Pachouli very late in life, but love it all, including granola, especially in my yogurt!