We went away for the weekend, up to North Creek, NY and our dear friends the Ts. Skiing at Gore Mountain, a dance, and mucho good eating were in store. We kicked things off Friday night with homemade pizzas and beers. Saturday morning we geared up and headed over to Gore, a whole three minutes from the Ts' house, what's not to love? Grabbing a table in the lodge, I looked around and noticed that people took "Family-Friendly" to a whole new level here. No cafeteria crap to refuel them in between runs: on dozens of tables were crockpots, plugged into nearby outlets and filled with all manner of goodies. Plates, napkins and silverware stacked and ready. Tupperware containers, cooler bags, neatly sealed chafing dishes all at the ready. As for ourselves, we had brought the leftover pizza and a few other things, and Suzanne put out a big ziplock bag of homemade granola.
I'm not a granola aficionado. The last time I made it myself was in 1996 and I remember it keenly because shortly after eating some, I was struck low by a vicious stomach flu. I know it wasn't the granola's fault but the two became sort of linked in my mind.
Munching on Suzanne's chocolate-laced clusters of oats and nuts, with chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds thrown in for good measure, I watched the kids dig into the bag, watched Jeeps shovel handfuls in and remark, "this is great, can we make this at home?" and I decided to give peace and granola another chance. So I cornered Suzanne on Sunday morning and had her write it down (along with her recipe for truly insane artichoke dip, more about that later). Suzanne makes it by rote and so there was a lot of guestimation going on, but I got the basic idea - oats, nuts, and something sugar-based to hold it together - and whatever ingredients I didn't have or couldn't find were easily substituted. Most of the stuff was already in the pantry, which is always a plus.
- 6 cups oats
- 2 cups chopped nuts (I used slivered almonds, pecans, walnuts and sunflower seeds)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional, but this is the time to experiment)
- 1/2 cup of stickiness - by this I mean maple syrup, honey, rice syrup, agave, or an experimental combination thereof. I used maple syrup and agave.
- 1/4 cup coconut oil or vegetable oil (I know I've seen coconut oil somewhere but none when I was food shopping so canola oil it was)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- Dried fruit of choice (blueberries, cranberries, raisins, etc)
- Chocolate chips or chocolate-covered fruit bits of choice (optional, but come on!)
Preheat oven to 375, grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix oats, nuts and cinnamon.
In a small saucepan, heat the stickiness, oil and vanilla. You don't have to bring it to a boil, just heat it through. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well. Divide the granola among the two baking sheets, smoothing in an even layer.
Bake at 375 for ten minutes, then turn the oven off and walk away. Either overnight, or your 8-hour workday, or until the granola has completely cooled.
Put one tray of granola back into the large bowl. Add dried fruit and chocolate and toss. I used dried cherries and blueberries, and then chocolate-covered cranberries (they just leapt right into my shopping cart, don't ask me how). I didn't measure this part, just eyeball it and you'll know when it looks right. Taste it to make sure it's right. Taste it again. Are you sure? One more taste. Then put it in a ziplock bag or other air-tight container and repeat with the other tray.