It’s A Granola Party Goin’ On

IMG_1676I don’t know how to cook anything.  
So I go ahead and do it, badly.

I didn’t even know that you could make your own granola until a few days ago, and to be honest, it would have never occurred to me that, of course, someone must make it somewhere, because, how else do we have it in stores?  Still, this is how dim I am when it comes to food, and the foods that I even like and eat often.

My relationship to the world of food is about as removed as you can get: I do not hunt, I couldn’t exactly tell you where everything I like comes from, and the stuff I eat so rarely resembles the actual thing in the wild.  Still, my relationship to food is even more removed, because I so rarely engage in the act of actually preparing it.  In many ways, food traveled in one way (in my mind): toward me, through me, and on to things I didn’t think about.  Even my time on the farm only revealed to me that milk really comes in a jar, and the steaks that used to be “Beth” out in the pasture didn’t seem to connect to the meal I was unsuccessful at preparing.

IMG_1689However, there are any number of things that will cause someone to explore the the world’s surrounding house and home, and it seems that remedying my terrible relationship with food is probably a smart move.  There is a full kitchen, and oven, and a fairly well stocked pantry in this place, and it seems silly to continue to buy into the corporate world of Big Granola.  Not only does it seem like a cost-reduction measure, but I figured that if I reduced my learning curve to include something very simple, and controlled for the number of things that could go wrong, I could slowly build up a reservoir of skills that I might need to prepare a decent Lobster Thermidor someday.

Over time.

Lots and lots of time.

 

IMG_1673I’m Serious When I Say This Is Incredibly Easy.

First, credit where credit is due: My wife found the recipe, and she has a knack for not only recipes, but the kitchen itself as a place to create meals of wonder.  However, the genius of the recipe is that it has lots of room for improvisation, and teaches you some basic skills that could warrant practice for a noob like me.

IMG_1686It takes no more than 20 minutes once the oven is preheated.  And how’s this for beginner: the stove doesn’t even go over 340, and you don’t use that many dishes when preparing.  There’s basically one ingredient (oats), and five staples that a well stocked kitchen will already have.  Obviously, if you know what you’re doing, trade out the stuff you would rather use for a different flavor profile.

IMG_1672First, put into a saucepan 1/4 Cup each of Olive Oil, Peanut Butter & Maple Syrup.  “Liquify” these on medium or so, and toss into a bowl 3 Cups of oats, and 2 tablespoons of sugar.  When the saucepan is ready, pour them together and get to mixing.    You’ll want the liquid to coat the oats completely.  Then, spread the mixture out on a tray, and toss it in the oven for 10 minutes.  “Toss” your granola, then put it in for another 15.  You can cook it longer until it is browned to your preference.IMG_1690-ANIMATION

 

No, Really.  That’s it.  

I was sort of baffled at how easy it really was, and it even after taste-testing it to make sure that it wasn’t going to be gross, I had trouble rationalizing that it was as good tasting as anything store bought.
Obviously, you can increase / decrease the “sweeteners” to get a different flavor profile, and toss in any kind of legume of your desire to add to the composition.  I usually toss in chocolate chips once it has cooled, and then store all of it in an airtight tupperware container.

IMG_1726As a student I became dependent on Granola, and would keep bags of stuff from the bulk section around my house to I could have something that I liked, and that was filling.  Any number of things can be added: dried fruits, yogurt, M&Ms, etc., and it makes a good base for dessert, breakfast, snacks, or whatever.  It is so useful to have fresh Granola around the house that I really can’t imagine going back, even after a couple days.

 

IMG_1727So, Is It Worth Making My Own Granola?

Yes.  I think so.  Not only do I feel like I made something that I want to eat (a big improvement for me), I also feel like I learned a few lessons that I can take with me, which was the whole point:

1.) Cooking Times Are A Myth.  I have yet to find any recipe that actually lists a time that was related to how long it takes to cook, and my suspicion is that I will never find one, even in the same house, with the same oven, on the same day, cooked by the same person.  There is a certain amount of variability in time that cannot be accounted for, and because of this, all I can really do is to trust that it probably needs another five minutes, and do poke at it too much while I’m waiting.

IMG_17292.) You Can Get Pretty Close To What You’re Looking For With Practice.  Sure, I probably won’t be able to make a McDonald’s-tasting hamburger any time soon, but things like sweetness & composition can be adjusted / changed / improved with practice.  The second batch had a slightly more consistent flavor, and I added more syrup, which sweetened up the batch a fair amount, to my liking.  Adding a few pumpkin seed, crushed almonds & dried cranberries really brought it into the realm I was used to from the store bought brand with which I was familiar.  What I make is now the best breakfast cereal I’ve ever had.  I can’t really remember the taste of the brand I ate the most of in College, because this seems close enough for me to not have to strain myself too hard to remember.

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