Granola

I had to travel for work, and some how that trip made my elbows sore again. I think it was dragging all my luggage through 3 flights each way across the continent and through customs (Sacramento to Quebec City and back). Anyway, here is a cooking post of granola M and I really like. At the end, you can see the sweater that I’ve started that is waiting for my elbows to feel better again.

I like to eat granola for breakfast. Not the granola you buy in the cereal aisle, but the “gourmet” kind that often comes in bulk food departments. But it’s pretty expensive, so I found a recipe for making my own in the April 2012 issue of Cooks Illustrated magazine. M and I subscribe to America’s Test Kitchen on line, who are the same group who puts out Cooks Illustrated, and I’ve found that their recipes always work, and M and I often like them (sometimes we like a spicier or richer version than the testers like). So when I saw that an issue of the magazine had a home made chunky granola recipe, I had to give it a go.
Following their directions, I didn’t get chunky granola the first time, but I wasn’t very surprised. I have often found living in the arid Central Valley of California, that recipes developed in much more humid climates (New England in this case) need a bit of a liquid boost out here. I ended up increasing the sugars and oil by 50% while holding the dry ingredients constant, and that worked so well, that M now eats this granola every morning for breakfast with some vanilla yogurt. I eat it with almond milk.

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz. nuts (I use almonds–they are local here), coarsely chopped
  • 5 C old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 C maple syrup (original recipe, very good) or honey (a lot less expensive–nuke it 20-30 sec to “thin” it)
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t cinnamon (optional)
  • 3/4 C canola oil

Directions:

Heat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, honey or maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon (optional), whisking until they well combined. Add the oil and whisk until the oil is stably incorporated (you are making an emulsion). Add the almonds and oats and fold with a large spatula until the oats are uniformly well-coated (don’t skimp on this step). Pour into a parchment-lined half-sheet pan and spread evenly. Use a heavy weight (I use a tool to pound meat) to press the the granola into a tight sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 min, rotating the pan 180 degrees half way through the baking. Cool in pan on wire wrack until completely cool. Break in to chunks and store air tight at room temperature. Note: If you want any dried fruit in your granola, add it after baking when breaking up the cooled granola.

If you get the magazine, you can see their amounts (or do the math and decrease the sugars and oil by 50%) and their many creative variations.

M took some photos of me yesterday making a batch:
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Folding the dry into the wet ingredients.
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Pressing the mixture together in the baking pan.
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Out of the oven!
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After cooling, I always find a corner missing. M says it must be a mouse. The one time this did not happen was the day M was not at home while I made the granola. Hmmm….

And here is a glimpse of the sweater I have on the needles. It’s Vodka Lemonade by Thea Coleman. It’s a lovely pattern, and I am not using yarn with the amount of stitch definition she recommends, but I think the difference between the seed stitch and stockinette will work out fine here. The yarn is Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Sport in Star Sapphire. I love BFL wool with a deep and abiding passion.
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New Digs or Why I haven’t been blogging

M and I bought a house. We moved to a neighboring city (about 7 miles from our old rental) to a lovely neighborhood. This has kept us rather busy for the past couple of months, but we are finally beginning to settle in. We had a month to pack, and we donated and got rid of what seemed like mountains of things, but when it came time to move, man, we had a lot of stuff. 13 years of marriage and 12 years in one residence can do that. But here are some before and after pics from the new house.

Family Room before
Can you find Harriet, my mannequin head in all the mess?
Family Room after
Dining room before
Dining Room after
Library before
Library after

M has a lawn to mow for the first time that doesn’t belong to his parents or their neighbors. He seems to really like the mower, and today he got an edger.
M mowing the lawn

But some things never change:
Boulevardier
Boulevardier cocktail. A negroni made with bourbon instead of gin. Delicious, and it looks so pretty on the hearth.