Nutty (for) Granola?

September 13, 2011

The girl who cried “I don’t like granola!” is making granola… again. I made granola a few months ago, for the first time ever, and remember not feeling anything strong either way. The kicker is that, after thinking about it for an embarrassingly long time, I have what seems like a vague and distant memory of being sad when I had eaten it all. Time-wise, it didn’t make any sense. Why was my initial dislike so bright and vivid, and then my learned appreciation so small and distant?

The answer is pretty simple: I’m so stubborn that it affects how I remember things. That’s pretty ridiculous. Excuse me while I stomp my feet on the ground like a two year old and throw a frustration-induced tantrum. Phew. Okay. Time to put on my big girl pants. I decided to try another granola recipe today, for Breakfast Tuesday, just to see what would happen. Would I try it and be dissatisfied, only to gobble it up within a week? Would I like it upon initial taste-testing? Would I not like it all? I was pretty excited to find out.

I mixed all my ingredients. Preheated the oven. Melted the butter and honey. Tossed everything together. Spread it out on baking sheets. Put them in the oven. Crossed my fingers. I watched it like a hawk and stirred it every three minutes instead of five, but to no avail. The granola starting burning in the oven about eight minutes before it was supposed to come out. So I took it out of the oven early and let it cool. I tried it and I liked it! Despite the small, burnt walnut pieces and the fact that it was, indeed, granola, I liked it! I’m glad to see that my stubbornness, while getting in the way of lots of things, will not get in the way of enjoying my breakfast on this beautiful Tuesday morning.

Nutty Granola

(Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse at Foodnetwork.com)

Yields 7 cups granola

Ingredients:

3 cups old-fashioned oats (rolled)

½ cup slivered or coarsely chopped almonds

½ cup flaked coconut, unsweetened

½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

½ cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon coarse sea salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup honey

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup raisins

½ cup dried cranberries

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, stir together oats, almond, coconut, walnuts, hazelnuts, cinnamon, and sea salt.

3. In a small bowl or saucepan, melt together butter and honey. Stir until smooth, and then pour over oat mixture. Stir until butter mixture evenly coats oat mixture.

4. On two non-stick baking sheets, spread oat mixture in a thin, even layer.

5. Bake granola for 15-20 minutes, stirring and switching trays every 5 minutes.

6. Let granola cool to room temperature and then stir in dried fruit.

Store in an airtight container or jar at room temperature for up to a week.

Often people are criticized for being stubborn. Hey, I criticize myself for being stubborn. But being stubborn can have its perks. If I’m not a huge fan of a certain music, I’ll read about it, listen to it, research it, find out why other people like it, analyze my own negative feelings toward it, and try as hard as I can to appreciate at least one aspect of it. It’s a long, sometimes tedious and sometimes fruitless, journey but I end up with a broadened musical horizon and, in general, more reconciled with the world around me.

Same goes for food. I will try a food/ingredient in as many combinations as possible until I find a way to make myself truly enjoy that particular food/ingredient. Luckily, when it comes to food, there isn’t much out there I don’t enjoy already. Unluckily, one of the foods that I have a hard time enjoying is granola. WEIRD. Rolled oats? Heck yes. Any sort of nut or dried fruit? I’ll eat the entire bag in a sitting. Doesn’t matter what it is. I’ll love it. But the combination of all these ingredients in granola form? I’d probably pass.

I’ve been thinking about this recipe since reading it this winter, and finally got around to making it. You’re witnessing my first attempt at making granola myself, and I’m hoping that this cures my ridiculous granola avoidance. First observation, granola is mad easy to prepare. Second observation, granola smells AWESOME when it’s baking. Does all granola smell this amazing while roasting in the oven?

All in all, I ended up really enjoying the end product but can’t see myself eating it by itself. How do you eat your granola? I’m anxious to start putting it in things and see if I can’t love it by the start of next week!

Chocolate Almond Granola

(Recipe adapted from Food in Jars, originally “Cocoa Hazelnut Granola”)

Yields about 4 cups granola

Ingredients:

1 cup slivered or coarsely chopped almonds

3 cups rolled, or “old-fashioned”, oats

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

¼ cup neutral oil (I used canola only because it was what I had on hand)

½ cup cane syrup, maple syrup, or agave syrup (I used a maple and agave syrup blend)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. When I need to toast nuts for a specific recipe, I spread them out on an ungreased baking sheet and place them in the oven, while it’s preheating, for 5 to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, though, because nuts burn quickly.

2. When almonds come out of oven, all toasty and beautiful, mix with oats in a large mixing bowl. Add cocoa powder and salt, and then stir until all ingredients are coated.

3. Add oil, then using the same liquid measuring cup add syrup. Stir again until all ingredients are evenly coated.

4. Spread granola out evenly on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

5. When granola comes out of the oven, make a tightly packed granola mountain on baking sheet and let cool completely in order to get large chunks of granola.

Store granola in an airtight container at room temperature.