Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bring Your Own Granola

Recipe #99: surprise! You get to make it up yourself.

I recently got my Apprentice Interpreter (natural history/ecology, not languages) certification, then followed that up with a workshop hosted to give people ideas for more outdoor activity foods that you can easily make yourself. It was a small turnout but I had a lot of fun. Here's the outline we were given to make your own granola (credit to Laurie Schwartz of the Interpretive Guides Association):

Do-it-yourself granola
Pre-heat oven to 300° F.  Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Start with 2 cups of large flake oatmeal, add a pinch of salt, then add ¼ cup to ½ cup each of your selection of yummy additions, such as…
Dried fruit: raisins, cranberries, cherries, pears, peaches, mango, pineapple, figs, apricots, dates, currants, banana chips, blueberries  (Chop any big pieces of fruit into small dice.)
Nuts: almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts (nuts can be chopped or left whole)
Seeds: sesame, flax, pumpkin, sunflower, hemp hearts, chia
Other: shredded or flaked coconut, soy nuts, wheat germ, bran
Spices: cinnamon, candied ginger, nutmeg, vanilla
I like to mix at least one of each of the kinds above. If you want to add chocolate, you’ll have to wait until after it has baked and cooled or you’ll have a big mess!
½ cup oil (canola or sunflower)
½ cup honey
Melt honey with oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until bubbly.  Stir briefly to combine, and then pour the syrup over your dry mix.  Stir to combine well. Spread the mixture on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.  Be careful not to over-bake, because the granola will continue to darken as it cools.  You can stir the granola while it’s still hot to break it up into little chunks for cereal, or press it into a greased pan to cut into bars for the trail.  It’s easier to cut while still a bit warm.  
I made my own granola!

When I made mine last night, I randomly threw in 1/2 cup of whatever I dug out of the cupboard that fell within the suggestions above. I think I ended up with:  unsalted sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup chopped dried mango, banana chips, crushed walnut pieces, sliced almonds, 1/4 cup prunes, and raisins. I freehand measured some cinnamon and nutmeg, too. 

Mine turned out really well (in my unbiased opinion, of course). Even the Meatatarian ate some. I stirred it a couple of times while it was baking to keep it from sticking. Give it a good stir when it starts to cool after coming out of the oven for good. Mine was quite stuck to the pan. I laughed out loud when I finally figured out that the grapes which had suddenly appeared were actually the raisins. Cooking is fun! 

For next time, I will reduce the oil quantity (mine's a bit too oily for me) and maybe not get quite so excited with the nutmeg. And now that I finally found the dried coconut, I'll probably add that, too, along with dried apricots (if I have them) and Sean's dried apple slices. The best part about this recipe is that you can make it entirely yours!

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