One of my favorite parts of cooking at home is having the freedom to make something taste exactly the way I want it to. I know precisely how rounded a spoonful of honey I like in my coffee and how thick a layer of peanut butter I want on my sandwich. I’m not ashamed to run back to the salt and pepper grinders several times to get the seasoning of my pasta sauce just right. I like my food to taste really good, so I’m always glad when I have the time and a kitchen at my disposal to make my food have optimal flavor.
Enter: granola. I have spent far too many hours of my life in the granola and trail mix aisles of grocery stores, scouring the shelves for the perfect combo of ingredients. Why is it that just about every nut mix either has dried fruit (never liked it) or brazil and hazelnuts (deathly allergic) in it? When it comes to decision-making in the granola aisle, I usually flop between, “Well, I’ll just buy this one and pick all the yogurt-covered raisins out,” and “I’ll just make my own when I get home.” The later choice always wins, but when I find I have an hour or two to bake a batch, I’m at a lack for ingredients. Granola is not usually something you can just whip up last minute. But now that I spent the five minutes making a list and buying the extra ingredients for granola, I’m stocked to have batches of the perfect cereal flowing out of my oven for months. At last.
As You Like It Granola
Adapted from 100 Days of Real Food
Makes 3 pounds
3 1/2 cups rolled oats
4 cups nut pieces, seeds, dried fruit bits (I used raw sliced almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, and shredded unsweetened coconut)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Cover a rectangular baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruit pieces, and spices together in a large mixing bowl. Heat the butter and honey together in a small saucepan over low heat. Once the butter melts, stir in the vanilla. Pour the hot liquids over the dry ingredients and stir together with a rubber spatula until evenly coated. Spread mixture onto prepared pan in one even layer. Bake for 75 minutes. The granola will become crisp as it cools at which point you can break into pieces (if you want to make bars) or break it up into small chunks (if making cereal). Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.