It’s been a cool summer, and though my tomatoes are growing v e r y slowly, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it.
Besides the fact that we’ve only turned on the air conditioner twice, I’ve also enjoyed the cool weather because it makes it easier to turn on the oven without roasting to death. In fact, this morning I baked granola while I did the dishes. It was a recipe I’d never tried, but the granola has cooled and I’ve eaten a few pieces. It’s delicious.
I’ve been making granola for almost ten years. Because I make granola, we rarely (maybe once every two years) purchase breakfast cereals. In processing most boxed cereals, with the exception of bran or whole grain cereals, the outer bran (the source of fiber) and germ (the source of protein, vitamins, and minerals) is removed leaving the endosperm. The endosperm is the starchy white center which, if the grain were planted, would fuel the germ as it germinates. It is the endosperm in its solitary form that has helped to give carbs their bad reputation several years ago.
However, despite its nutritional largess, granola needs a new PR firm.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word granola? A family of ten in Birkenstocks and hand-woven tunics? Food co-ops?
I am reluctant to admit it, but I grew up in a truly granola family. Though there were only six of us, and I didn’t know what Birkenstocks were until they became fashionable in the early nineties, we were a granola family because that’s what we ate for breakfast almost every morning. (We were home-schooled, too, and I believe that increases the “granola” quotient quite a bit.) Mom had a four-gallon bright yellow Tupperware container she filled with homemade granola every few weeks. I know not why I speak in past tense—she still has the yellow container and it is still filled with granola even as I write.
This morning, I made Quick Omega-3 Granola, which contains flax seeds, walnuts, and walnut oil (hence the nutritionally informative title). Some flax seeds are Michigan-grown and you can often purchase them at the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market. This recipe is different from most granolas because it contains an egg. Therefore, keep it refrigerated.
4 T. walnut oil
3/4 C. dark brown sugar
1/2 t. (scant) coarse kosher salt
3 C. old fashioned oats
1 C. walnuts halves, broken in half
1/2 C. flaxseed meal (Blend 1/2 C. flaxseeds in the blender.)
1 C. dried fruits, chopped (if necessary–I used blueberries.)
1/4 C. honey
Preheat oven to 350. Brush 2 T. of the oil onto a large, rimmed baking sheet. (This is really important. The granola will stick if you only grease the pan.) Whisk oil, sugar, egg, and salt together. Add oats, walnuts, and flaxseed. Mix well. Spread on sheet. Bake 15 minutes. Stir granola. Bake 15 minutes longer. Stir. Sprinkle with fruit, drizzle with honey, and bake until golden brown (about 10 minutes more). Stir to loosten. Cool completely. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
The following recipe is one I particularly like when I’m cleaning out the cupboards. I can’t guarantee it’ll be good; you have to use your best judgment, creativity, and whatever you have (except the kitchen sink). This is also very adaptable if you have food allergies.
Kitchen Sink Granola
Combine in a large bowl 7 cups of the following dry ingredients, including
at least 2-3 cups rolled oats (dry oatmeal) plus other grains as desired or available: wheat germ, wheat bran, whole wheat flour, cornmeal, soy flour, uncooked cereals (cream of wheat, seven-grain), sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, ground flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, chopped nuts, oat bran, rice bran, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), and anything else you think might taste good.
Combine separately and pour over dry ingredients 1-2 cups liquids, including as desired: honey, malt, maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar (use 2 Tablespoons water with one-half cup sugar), oil, melted butter, peanut butter, tahini, other nut butters, milk or cream.
Bake in two large greased baking pans 30-60 minutes at 250 degrees. Check often, but do not stir if you want the granola to be shiny and pretty. It is better to undercook than overcook. Allow granola to cool. When cool, add as desired: raisins, chopped dates, dried apricots or apples, other dried fruits.
Eat with milk and/or yogurt.
Variation: I have a friend whose husband does not like sweet cereals at all. She leaves out the sweeteners in this recipe and adds salt. I think he eats it dry for a snack. I think this is weird, but to each his own salty or sweet cereal.
Finally, here is a very traditional recipe I made for many years. Some people don’t use powered milk. If you’re one of those people, leave it out.
Mix together: 6 cups rolled oats, 1/2 C. sunflower seeds or chopped nuts, 1/2 C. coconut, 1/2 C. wheat germ, and 1/2 C. powdered milk. Mix together the following and add to dry mixture:2/3 C. honey, 2/3 C. oil, 1 . vanilla. Bake 15-25 minutes at 250 degrees in a greased pan, watching carefully but not stirring. Let cool undisturbed, add dried fruits if you like. Place in a yellow Tupperware container, if you have one.