Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Homemade Granola

Throughout my life, I have always, naturally, been among the most well-read in any group. I have spent nearly all of my free time since third grade reading novels/magazines/newspapers, and that is probably one of my greatest accomplishments. But really, it is only an accomplishment for yourself. You can never claim that you are "well read," because you will always be one upped, even by a non-reader ("Did you read the latest J.D. Robb?" "No, I did not." Inwardly seething).  If I find out that a dear (also well-read) friend has read a long, well-regarded book that I have not read, I MUST READ IT. This is the reason I slogged through The Executioner's Song, as well as recently became torn up  by A Little Life.

This is also the same reason I started making homemade granola. I was at a teacher's "retreat" at Princeton University, and my fellow teachers and I were discussing cooking, our go to meals, and how often we cook. Among NYC teachers, the most popular answer was "I store sweater's in my oven," so I was feeling smug. Then, my friend Samantha said that she made homemade granola, and that it was "so easy," and that "really, I wouldn't do it if it wasn't so easy, and it's so much cheaper than buying it."  She kept on saying it over and over, and I started inwardly seething as people started asking her about her favorite recipe, and which ingredients she liked.  Nobody was asking me anything! I had to make it.

I went home and googled the Mark Bittman recipe she referenced.  The boyfriend (now husband) and I hit Sahadi's, and we made our first batch using dried dates.  We never looked back.

Now, six years later, I am still keeping a jar of homemade granola on the counter. My husband adds it to his yogurt in the morning. I love the smell from the oven on a crisp autumn day.  When I peruse a cookbook/food blog, I brake for granola recipes.  Since the recipe is extremely flexible, and it really is "so easy," I will just post a few recipes and tips to get you started.

- Stock up at Trader Joe's, or a similar store with inexpensive nuts, dried fruits, and the like. I would avoid flavored nuts and fruits, but to each their own.

- Mix together the ingredients right on the sheet pan. Why clean another bowl?

- Keep on experimenting with different blends and recipes.  For this past granola batch, I used coconut oil for the first time as a binder. I also threw in some honey.

- If you can remember, move the granola around halfway through baking. But, you don't HAVE to remember.

- Add the dried fruit after baking.  My favorite is dried cherries.

This is my favorite recipe, but it is "more" labor intensive:
Eleven Madison Park Granola 

My friend Lisa swears by Smitten Kitchen's recipe.

Samantha, you changed my daily life, and it really is "so easy."

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