Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bake It Hot, Eat It Cold

Homemade Granola
It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who knows me, but I like making lists. There is a comfort in writing things down. Digital lists are not half so satisfying as hand-written lists... but I employ both methods. After all, one can't have too many lists. The list-making for me is an attempt to organize my thoughts and ideas, and also a way to drain off some of the excess stuff swirling around my brain-pan at any given moment. It gives me mental breathing room. Reduces the mental clutter. I always feel better after cleaning my house – less claustrophobic, less stressed. Making lists does that for my brain.

I have an on-going list of things that I make myself – things I don't have to buy already manufactured or processed. There is also a list of things I want to try making at home. Sometimes it's a while before something on the second list makes it over to the first list. The need has to be there. I usually wait until we've run out of whatever it is before I attempt to make it.

Feed The Need
Granola has long been on the "want to try making" list, but cool mornings call for hot breakfasts. Well, last week that suddenly and blisteringly changed. It was 84°F... in the shade... at 8:00 in the morning. Yech. It would be the first scorcher of the summer, a real thermometer-buster, and I was unprepared.

Who wants to cook when you're already cooking?
As the next day was going to be just as hot (if not hotter), I decided to just make the granola and be done with it. Did it heat up the house? It might have, but I sure couldn't tell. And it was probably better than doing it later in the evening when we're trying to cool the place down.

So, bring on the heat, bring on the summer, I'm ready!...
(no, not really, I'm just trying to convince myself.)

"300 Degrees Of Summer" Granola
adapted from... New York Times

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1/2 cup raw cashew pieces
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, shelled
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
and a teensy pinch of cayenne
1 cup of dried tropical fruit, coarsely chopped (pineapple, papaya, and/or mango)

Preheat oven to 300°F.

In a large bowl, combine everything but the dried fruits. Spread mixture evenly between two rimmed baking pans and bake for 1 hour (give or take), stirring every 15 minutes, until it's a deep toasty golden brown and smells so good you want to eat it right off the pan with your fingers (but don't, it's too hot!)

Carefully dump the granola onto some parchment paper sheets on the counter and spread it out. Once it's cool, pour it into a large bowl and add the dried fruits, tossing gently to combine. Stored in an airtight container, it will keep for quite a while (certainly long enough for you to finish eating it). This stuff is so good, spoilage is really not an issue (if you know what I mean). Makes about 10 cups.

Dish it up with milk or yogurt.

Notes: I used apricots and cranberries in this batch since that's what I happened to have. Use what you've got and/or what you like best.
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