Once a hippie….
January 9, 2016
I have made granola. And I have eaten it with homemade yogurt and honey.
Somewhere, Mama Cass Elliott is smiling down at me.
I really wasn’t a hippie. I was something of a wanna-be hippie, but I was about eight years too late and 1,500 miles too far from a coast to be the real thing. But the sentiment was, and to some extent still is, there. Sometimes, it comes through stronger than others. Today, I feel downright Earth Motherish.
(I also was a devotee of the Foxfire books. But that was because most of the stuff they talked about doing — hunting, curing meat, gardening, canning, preserving, and so forth — was stuff I was familiar with anyway, from growing up in the rural South in the 1950s and 60s. )
I’m getting ready to start a group fitness/health challenge, aimed not so much at losing weight (I weigh less right now than I’ve weighed since I was in high school), as at eating healthy and in general, being healthier. That’s a good goal for any of us.
So, I’m trying to get myself lined up so that I have plenty of healthy stuff around that I can eat. And if it’s healthy stuff that I made, well, so much the better! We just automatically KNOW the less processed something is when we bring it into our own kitchen, (a) the cheaper it is, and (b) the healthier it is.
I detailed the process for making yogurt a few weeks ago on the blog; it’s a fine thing, if you have either a yogurt maker or an Instant Pot. If you don’t, any good, plain Greek yogurt will serve nicely for this; Fage is excellent, as is Chobani. But if you don’t have an Instant Pot? Get one. You can retire your slow cooker and your rice cooker, you will have a pressure cooker, and it’d be worth it to be able to saute all your ingredients in the same vessel you’re going to braise or stew them in, even if you DON’T get the Duo model that has the yogurt-making function.
It could be that you could make yogurt in a slow cooker. I’ve never investigated that.
Making granola is even simpler than making yogurt — doggoned near as simple as going to the store and buying good yogurt.
My recipe came from Epicurious. It is, with my minor modifications:
- 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (in the baking section at your grocery)
- 2 cups assorted nuts (in my first batch, I used a cup of pecan pieces and a cup of cashew pieces)
- 1/4 cup honey (or you can sub maple syrup if you’re in that notion)
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 cups dried fruit (I used a cup of blueberries and a cup of cranberries)
Preheat your oven to 300. Mix the oats, coconut and nuts in a big mixing bowl. Put the honey, oil, brown sugar and spices in a small bowl or measuring cup, and nuke for a minute; stir, and repeat if needed, until the sugar is dissolved. Drizzle the wet stuff over the dry stuff, and stir it up well.
Spread the granola in a foil-lined baking sheet. Make the layer not more than 1/2 inch thick; if it’s thicker, go to two sheets (you can also double this recipe, if your family is big on granola, i.e., you raised hippies). Slide it in the oven for 30 minutes. You will need to stir it every 10 minutes, and rotate the pans if you’re using more than one. It could have done with a tad less cooking than that, if you like it less brown.
Be warned. This stuff smells better than probably anything you have ever baked in your oven In Your Life. I’m serious. I didn’t think you could top the smell of bran muffins, but this does it.
After 30 minutes — or when the granola is golden brown; timing may vary in your oven — take the granola out and let it cool on a rack. Transfer it to a bowl — the bowl you originally mixed it up in is fine — and stir in the dried fruit. When it’s completely cooled, transfer it to an airtight container, where it’ll keep for a couple of weeks at room temp.
Hah. Like it’d stay around that long.
I just cannot tell you how superior this is to granola from the store (not to mention you can customize it to your own preferences). It doesn’t clump up a lot, so if you like clumpy granola, make more syrup to go over your oats/nuts. Try different nuts — the reviews on the Epicurious recipe suggested flaxseed or chia seed; I could see puffed quinoa, or macadamias, but cashews and pecans are damned hard to beat. Try different seasonings; a little nutmeg or cloves, maybe a little allspice. Try cut-up dried apples or pears or peaches or pineapple.
It’s also somewhat cheaper. Oats are way less than $2 for a big old box; coconut is something near $1.39 a bag. Either will make two or three batches of granola. I get my pecans from the farm, so they’re (relatively) cheap, compared to grocery store prices; Walgreen’s periodically puts on its store brand bags of cashew pieces four bags for five bucks, and a bag will make two batches. I get dried fruit at Big Lots, where it’s about $1.50 for a one-cup bag. This recipe will make between seven and eight cups, and good granola at the grocery will run you between $4 and $5 for a box that size.
To serve, glop about 1/4 cup yogurt in a bowl. Cover it with 1/3 cup granola. Drizzle that with a teaspoon or two of honey. Add some fresh fruit. Make yourself a fresh, hot cup of coffee. Put on the Mamas and the Papas or Arlo Guthrie or the Kingston Trio. Dig in.
I promise you, you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em will not care if all the leave are brown, and the sky is gray.