May 17th, 2006
For years my dad ate the same thing for breakfast, a huge bowl of granola topped with plain yogurt, frozen orange juice concentrate, and berries. The berries were always some combination of blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries, fresh in summer, frozen in winter. A few years ago he took it into his head to lose a few pounds, actually read the calorie contents on a package of granola, and upended the ratio turning his breakfast into a big bowl of yogurt and berries with a sprinkling of granola on top. The tradition continues, just in a slightly altered form.
So I imagine my love of granola is at least in part inherited. I do have slightly different tastes than my dad though. While he tends to gravitate toward the types of cereal often found in health food stores that seem to consist mostly of rolled oats with very little crunch or sweetness, I prefer a lot of crunch and chewy dried fruit. To me there are few things more indulgent than a big bowl of crunchy nuts, fruit, and clusters of sweet toasted oats topped with milk and sliced banana.
Now Jay is developing his own love of granola. He's six so naturally to him the sweeter the better, and he prefers the kind that comes in a big box from the grocery store. But even if he doesn't love the results as much, he does like to help me make granola from scratch. Last month we spent one afternoon of a cold and stormy weekend toasting oats and nuts, stirring in honey and vanilla, and impatiently smelling the warm sweet aromas coming from the oven. We used a recipe from Mollie Katzen's Salad People, a cookbook for parents and kids who want to cook together. You can find my review of the cookbook and the granola recipe in the kids section, but I forgot to mention it here until today when I stumbled across a cluster of recent food blogger granola experiments. Clotilde at Chocolate & Zucchini posted a recipe for Macadamia Maple Granola and comments on that post led me to Maple Granola at Eat and Crunchy Coconut Macadamia Granola with Honey at Creampuffs in Venice.
This Mollie Katzen recipe is really a blueprint that encourages experimentation. Jay and I made a tropical fruit granola with hazelnuts and cashews that satisfied all my urges for crunchy and chewy and made enough to store some in the freezer for later. Unfortunately Jim is also a granola hound and depleted my secret stash in a matter of days. So it must be time to break out the rolled oats again and make a new batch, perhaps this time a special food bloggers edition featuring Macadamia nuts, maple syrup, and coconut. Maybe I'll even save some for my dad.
Crunchy Fruity Granola3 cups rolled oats
2 cups combined seeds and chopped nuts (I used almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds)
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup assorted dried fruit (I used raisins and a packaged tropical mix of mango, papaya, and pineapple bits)
Preheat the oven to 325F. Spray two rimmed cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl mix together the oats, seeds, nuts, salt, and brown sugar. I left the salt out because my cashews were salted, otherwise I would have included it.
Combine the oil, honey, and vanilla extract and pour over the nuts and seeds mixture. Mix thoroughly - kids can use their nice and clean hands.
Bake for about half an hour, stirring several times to ensure even toasting, and if you can't fit both trays on one rack, switching the tray position half way through. Leave the granola to cool on the tray as this is when it gets crunchy.
When the granola is cool and sticky/crunchy, put it in a bowl and add in the fruit. Can be stored in a canister on the counter with the extra in a ziplock bag or jar in the freezer.
-Mollie Katzen, Salad People