Saturday, September 24, 2011

Big Mary's Granola

I've never been much of a cereal person.  Even as a kid.  In fact I was a little bit infamous for talking my Mom into purchasing whatever cereal had the most tempting prize hidden deep among the flakes, crisps or crunchies... promising that for sure this time I'd eat the cereal...and then never touching the box again.  It wasn't that I meant to be wasteful.  I'd been graphically informed about the starving children in Africa, India and Bangladesh, and would have happily sent each and every box off to them, sans mystery secret code ring of course.  It was just that come breakfast time I could always think of so many other things I'd rather consume.  And I was never such a big fan of milk.  As I'm writing this I realize the greater issue may have been that I was spoiled and beloved by the lovely woman known as Mom, and was never sat down in front of a big bowl of Sugar Pops and however forcefully made to be true to my word.

And in later life, I've learned I'm also not so much of an oatmeal person.  Inspired by a growing legion of faithful oatmeal breakfasters in my culinary circle, and their nutritionally superior pride in product... I picked up some steel cut, Irish, whole grain, slow cooking, multivitamin laden, organic, boutique market driven Oatmeal.  And it was delicious.  Especially delicious when gilded with sweet butter, dried fruit, maple syrup and maybe a drizzle of half and half (to cut the richness as my Mom might have said).  I learned that I had missed the point.  And honestly, with just a spoonful of honey and some berries... that bowl of oatmeal just wasn't doing it for me.  So I returned to my egg beaters and English Muffin and was left with the better part of a box of morally superior oatmeal on my shelf.

Just days before I was ready to succumb to a rainy day oatmeal raisin cookie intensive, I happened upon a recipe for homemade granola.  And who knew?  I do like granola, especially when it's my version.  Or maybe I mean any good indulgent version.  I won't make any claims that this recipe is low fat, healthy, diet friendly or virtuous in any way, though it may flirt with some of those attributes.  I will claim that its delicious and allude to potentially addictive.  The handsome Venezuelan and I really enjoy this over Greek Yogurt with a honey drizzle!

I've written this recipe so that you can tailor it to your own tastes and pantry.  For the "wet sugar" you may use agave nectar (my 1st choice), honey, maple syrup or corn syrup (the latter not my recommendation, but its up to you).  For the nuts, seeds and dried fruit, use what you love or what you have on hand.  For the version in the photos I used cashews, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and golden raisins.  I can also recommend using pecans, walnuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried apricots (chopped), dried cherries, dried apples, and currants.  You could also switch out vanilla extract for maple flavoring or almond extract if you wish.  Replace the cinnamon with pumpkin pie spice mix or garam masala... you get the idea.  The important ratios to keep constant are the amount of oats, sugars, oil and fruit/nuts.  I've also noticed that if you are making granola on a humid or rainy day, you may want to turn off the oven and let the finished granola rest inside with the oven door propped open for an additional 5 minutes or so.

Big Mary's Granola

2 Cups Oats - Not instant or quick cooking
1 Tablespoon Water
1 – 1 ½ teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon Salt
2 – 4 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
¼ Cup Wet Sugar - such as agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, etc.
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 ½ Cups combined raw nuts, dried fruit, seeds - reserve nuts & seeds separate from dried fruit

Preheat oven to 325*.
Toss together oats, water, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk together sugar, oil, wet sugar & vanilla in a separate bowl.  Toss together with the oat mixture, leaving a Tablespoon or two for the nuts and seeds.
Scatter oat mixture loosely over a parchment lined (or aluminum foil sprayed with non-stick spray) approximately 12 x 17 baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Toss raw nuts and seeds with reserved sugar mix and add to sheet pan, toss and bake for an additional 12 - 13 minutes.  Spin pan back to front when returning to oven.

Remove from oven and add dried fruit.  Cool and store in air tight container.

Note - If you want to double this recipe, be sure to use two pans.  It's important to not crowd the granola on the baking sheet.  Also, if doubling the recipe.  Make sure to rotate pans when you add the nuts mixture.

Text and Recipe by Edward Magel
Photos by Edward Magel & Yder Leon Laya
Copyright 2011 ©  Big Mary's Kitchen

1 comment:

Jenn said...

I have been waiting for this recipe for some time!!!!! Can't wait to try it.