Monday, October 8, 2007

Granola that never grows old

One delightful thing this semester is that I have my own kitchen. I endured cafeteria food for two years and enough was far more than enough! (There was a year between those two that involved studying abroad and working at home.) So I find myself in a dangerous place because I would much prefer to bake scones or cook curry than study for tests. There is also the matter of my budget, and the looks I get from friends as I drag them through the grocery store in search of currants and instant espresso. (I know, I know. These ingredients shouldn't be that scarce, but somehow here they are!) Thankfully, college students are hungry people, and it's not hard to pawn off my creations, even if they're not typical Texan fare.

This weekend I made granola, which is in my opinion the ultimate comfort food. My mom has been toasting oats and dried fruit and nuts of all varieties in every oven we have possessed--from Hawaii to New Zealand to Washington. In the early years she included bran flakes and a simple mixture of oil and honey. Today the family favorite has cut back on mix-ins but elaborated on syrup.

My mother has kept me faithfully stocked up with this variety, which she dubbed "Blessings Granola" in the family cookbook she put together two years ago. Now that I'm in my very own apartment, I'm saving her some postage and filling my own place with the sweet smell of home.

Blessings Granola
Makes 4 cups

¼ c. honey
¼ c. oil
2 T. frozen orange juice concentrate
2 T. brown sugar (I consider this optional-it increases the sweetness and chewiness only slightly)
¼ t. vanilla

Separately mix:
½ c. pecans
1 ½ c. rolled oats
¼ c. slivered almonds
¼ c. pumpkin seeds

Mix both together. Thinly spread onto rimmed baking sheet. Bake until toasted in 325° oven.

Remove from oven. Stir in:
¼ c. coconut flakes
¼ c. golden raisins
7 dried apricots, chopped
¼ c. dried cranberries

Let cool before transferring to storage jar or container.
*Notes: This is an incredibly loose recipe. I do not even know how much my mom adheres to it, but as I was starting to get the hang of granola-making it was a very helpful guide. The orange juice can be substituted with pretty much anything else (I only had white grape juice concentrate on hand this time) and I rarely ever measure out my fruit and nuts because I always want to put more in anyway. If you want a particularly chewy granola than stick with the ratios given, but I purposefully increase the dry ingredients for economical reasons.

If you've never made granola before then I will warn you that you need to be very attentive! After about five minutes give the mixture its first stir. From there it's up to you how toasted you want it. I tend to let it get pretty brown because I like it that way (this batch is a lighter one).

I would love to hear what variations you have made or are inspired to do. As for me, I'm thinking of throwing in some pumpkin pie spice next time around and plenty of pumpkin seeds (and hazelnuts?!). Quite appropriate for autumn, I think.


Rachael said...

You bless me by your talents! You're an artist with words, photos, paints, pencil, paper, canvas, food, nature, music...naturally I could go on. I'm not just saying this because I'm your mum--I am just one who has had the pleasure of oohing and aaahing over your variety of creations for 21 wonderful years. The sweetest part about your gifts and talents is the joy of giving that has always accompanied the results of your inspirations.
Love you heaps, forever & always, Mum

janelle said...

Beautiful blog---so happy to have found you.

Included your granola in my post today: