When family chores call for attention I try to keep meals as simple as possible. They need to nourish, of course, but they also need to be flexible. Many times, the meal is ready but one of us in a place where we can’t be drop what we’re doing. If Bruce is haying or harvesting and rain threatens or if I’m canning produce and everyone is hungry but me, I want some grab and go kind of meals at the ready.
Granola is often the ticket. We all like it. I make huge batches of it to have on hand for a quick meal or a snack to stave off hunger pangs. Phoebe often has a it as a bedtime treat. Â I love how flexible it is. Any nut will do. The oats can be stretched with wheat germ. The fruit can be dried cranberries or apples or raisins. I can sneak in some flax seed meal or nutritional yeast and no one ever notices. We love it over yogurt, topped with fresh fruit or straight from the jar. I make a granola cookie and a terrific fruit crisp with granola in place of the usual sweeter topping. What’s not to love about it?
The Basic Idea: Recipe And Process
I will give my basic recipe but it just a suggestion. I really don’t remember the last time I followed it exactly:
10 cups hearty rolled oats. (Please don’t use the quick or instant kind. They don’t have the body granola needs.)
1 cup of sunflower seeds. (Hulled pumpkin seeds will work too.)
1 cup of wheat germ. (Flax seed meal and some nutritional yeast add a healthy punch.)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut.
1 cup of nuts. (I’m partial to slivered almonds but walnuts are really good too.)
1 large pinch of salt and a good tablespoon of cinnamon
Mix this together in a very large bowl.
In a second bowl blend 1 cup of maple syrup ( or honey) with ¾ cup of vegetable oil. I use a cold expeller-pressed oil. Add a splash of almond flavoring and a large splash of vanilla to this and heat it for a minute so it will mix nicely. Add this to the oat mixture and mix well. Your hands are the only tool that works here.
Dry Your Granola
Now you need to dry this. I use my dehydrator set at 120 degrees for perhaps two hours. I don’t need to rotate the trays in my dehydrator, but if you have a dehydrator with a bottom heater you’ll need to rotate the trays two or three times.
You are shooting for a crispy texture with no darkened bit of oats. You can use your oven but I can never keep the heat low enough to suit me. I have dried it successfully in my car with the windows rolled up on a very hot day.
I have also had luck using my solar oven but I did have a problem with it being too small to do the whole batch at once. Alternatively, you can toast granola in a cast iron skillet on a wood stove. I do that often when the stove is hot anyway.
Once you have the granola nice and crispy, it’s time to add the dried fruit. Make sure the granola has cooled first.This is a good place to use up bits and dabs of fruit. I like pineapple and bananas and I have used dried cherries.
I know that most people buy oats in a one pound carton but it’s not at all practical or economical for our family. I buy mine by the 50 pound sack. We go through them pretty quickly and the savings is considerable. If you have access to oat groats and choose to invest in an oat roller, you can have the freshest cereal possible.
Make this basic rich cookie dough:
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2¼ cups flour
Beat this very well and add a cup of granola for a crunchy and healthy cookie.
Add two tablespoons of cornstarch to the liquid from a quart jar of home-canned peaches. Put the peaches and the liquid in a 9X9 inch cake pan. Top with a cup of granola and bake in a 350 degree oven it until the syrup thickens and the granola browns slightly.