Sunday, January 12, 2014

Granola 101

January 3, 2014
Submitted by Michelle
Over the Christmas break I traveled east to see my family in Utica and Manhattan.  I hadn't been there for a year and I didn't realize how much I had missed everyone, particularly my cousin Kathy, until I was there.  

Kathy (a.k.a. Kazzer) is the sister I never had, and though we live on opposite coasts, we talk, text and email frequently. We both share the love of cooking and during 2013 Kathy sent me several care packages containing her delicious, homemade granola.  To be honest, I never really liked granola until I tried Kathy's recipe, and now I can't get enough of it. With the cost of a postage stamp going up to 49 cents this month, I figured it was high time I learned to make Kazzer's granola myself.
The ingredients are simple: oats, coconut, nuts, dried fruit, maple syrup, honey (which didn't make the photo shoot) oil and cinnamon.
All the ingredients except for the dried fruit are mixed together in a large bowl and then baked for approximately 20 minutes. 
After the mixture is baked to a golden brown, the dried fruit is mixed in and the granola is ready to eat.   I eat it every morning with with non-fat yogurt and fresh fruit.  I've also been known to eat a big handful mid-afternoon when the munchies kick in and I'm trying to eat something a bit more virtuous than Lay's potato chips.   

Kazzer's Granola (adapted from Mark Bittman)

6 cups rolled oats (not instant or quick cooking, and not steel cut)
1 cup sliced almonds, NOT roasted
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts, NOT roasted
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Dash kosher salt
1/3 cup grapeseed oil or other very neutral oil
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped, or dried cranberries

Heat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, all nuts, coconut, cinnamon, salt, honey, and syrup. Spread evenly on two baking sheets and bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the mixture browns evenly. You want it to get as toasty as possible without the nuts burning at all, so it's really important to check it frequently toward the end of baking time.

Remove pans from oven and immediately add even amounts of the dried fruits to each pan and mix to combine. Allow to cool to room temperature, then store in airtight containers in the fridge. It will keep for a long time.

Needless to say, different nuts and fruits can be substituted, and you can use all honey or all syrup--I just happen to like these combinations best. Never use nuts that are already roasted, or they will burn during cooking and ruin your whole batch. Final note, I use Bob's Red Mill oats and coconut and really like how fresh they taste.

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