In this solo cooking adventure, Kate, “inspired” by her inability to fall back asleep early in the morning, makes an old favorite.
“Granola. Granola. Granola. Ripe banana in fruit bowl. Granola.”
That’s about all that was going through my head at 7:45 A.M. on Wednesday when I should have been dreaming. It was my day to sleep in. But Harry was gnawing on my feet through the bedspread like they were succulent baby back ribs, I was visualizing a breakfast the didn’t yet exist, and the sun was annoyingly bright. I gave in. Throwing my legs over the side of my bed with a sigh, I fed my fat yet apparently starving cat, and began pulling out ingredients for a batch of granola. It’s like I had no choice. I was powerless over the granola. Random sorta. But of course, there is a back story. A granola back story…
I first had homemade granola that knocked my socks off on a trip upstate in a house that my then boyfriend was renting. We referred to the family that owned this house as “the hippies” although I didn’t quite know why other than that they didn’t have cable. What they did have however, was this huge glass jar, tucked away in the dark, ankle-level cabinet among the pots and pans containing, you guessed it, granola. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t exactly 100% sure it was okay for us to eat it (boyfriend assured me it was: “they said help yourselves to anything…”), but I always felt like I was getting away with something. The base was nutty and simple, the dried fruit chewy and not overly sweet, it tasted wholesome and light, yet also substantial and satisfying. I’d have it in a little bowl with some organic milk and some banana diced small, or with rich greek yogurt and smattering of fresh blueberries, maybe a drizzle of honey. This was breakfast? This was relatively healthy? Get out.
That December Eating Well Magazine ran a feature on homemade food gifts. It featured “Maple Nut Granola.” How perfect! I tried the recipe and to my delight, it was pretty similar to the hippie’s granola! Not too sweet but with a roasted, maple-y flavor, chunks of nuts, chewy fruit. Yum. I made two batches and jarred it for gifts, with the biggest jar going to the boyfriend. I saved some for myself but soon it was gone, and I didn’t get nearly enough.
Not long after Christmas, the relationship with the boyfriend dissolved like the color of Fruity Pebbles in a bowl of milk. I was heartbroken. Mostly about the granola. All that time and energy put into it, and none for me? What a loss.
THIS Christmas, despite its popularity among those gifted last year, I wasn’t sure if it was right to give a gift to people (including new boyfriend) inspired by old boyfriend. Then I came to my senses. This was too important for sentimentality. Just because the relationship went south did not mean that others had to suffer. My people (and myself) deserved the granola.
I re-discovered how fun it is to make. Stirring all the ingredients in a big ol’ bowl. Putting it all in the oven to roast, running to the deli for juice, and coming back to find the apartment smelling amazing.
Again I wrapped it and gave it as gifts to my favorite people. Those who got it last year were even more appreciative this year, knowing now how awesome it is. I gave some to new boyfriend and watched in minor horror as he ate it straight from the jar (it took restraint to not pry it from his hands and put it in a proper bowl with yogurt or milk . . . and then encourage him to take a picture). Again though after giving so much away I only had a bit left for myself, and by January 2nd it was gone.
So here I was a month later, at the ungodly hour of 8 A.M, making granola. This time, not for gifts, but for breakfast. I immediately set some aside for Gary my foodie partner in crime who had not yet had it. And new boyfriend will get more too (because, truth be told, it’s sort of adorable the way he tilts his head back, shakes the jar directly into his mouth and then crunches happily). But most of it, two big, satisfying jars, sit proudly in the cupboard. All mine.
(Adapted from Eating Well Magazine November/December 2008 )
Makes 10 cups
Active Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
- 5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 1 cup (very) coarsely chopped pecans
- ½ cup light brown sugar (i actually use a bit less)
- ⅓ cup salted pumpkin seeds
- ⅓ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup canola oil
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup golden raisins
- Preheat oven to 275°F.
- Combine oats, coconut, almonds, pecans, brown sugar, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Combine syrup, water and oil in a medium bowl or large measuring cup and pour over the oat mixture; stir until well combined. Spread the mixture into a large (12-by-15-inch) roasting pan or large rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir, and continue baking until golden brown and beginning to crisp, about 45 minutes more. Stir in cranberries and raisins. Let cool completely before storing.