Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Good Morning Granola

This morning, I woke up early.  I usually do, and I love it, but this morning was really early:  4:30.  I was laying in bed thinking about work (I have a major grant deadline on Thursday), about Timothy (I need to get some of those "Bob" books so he can start learning to read), about my brother & sister-in-law and their newborn baby girl (the first days home with a newborn are glorious...and really tough), and about spending more time intentionally resting.  That last thought got kicked to the curb as I quietly slid out of bed and went to start the coffee.

Does this ever happen to you, my other caffeine-addicted readers:  you start the day with a cup of coffee (or tea), intend to eat something, but instead have another cup, and then maybe another?  Before I knew it, I had been up two and a half hours with only coffee in my system.  I started feel a "bonk" coming on, and I needed to eat something fast. 

Fairly stumbling to the pantry, I perused the shelves, feeling particularly blase' about my choices:  cereal, toast...blah-bla blah, blah, blah.  In my delirium, I thought, "I need to post another food blog" and was then inspired to make some granola.  A quick scan through the cabinets confirmed that I had (most of) the ingredients (my #1 kitchen rule:  be flexible!).  The excitement of cooking and photographing the steps forced the pangs of hunger to retreat. 

I switched from coffee (it was all gone by now!) to tea:  a delicious Lavender Earl Grey from a beautiful farm deep in the heart of Santa Barbara County, California.  My music of choice was David Nevue's (simply divine) piano hymns.  The sun was rising now, its rays playing peek-a-boo with the picket fence in the front yard.  Wow.  I really love mornings:  the freshness and newness each day brings.  I became overwhelmed with desire to share this moment with you:

Last summer, I was on a "homemade-and-organic-everything" kick. With a then-3-month old, a 3 year old, and very little sleep, that streak didn't last long.  But I did come up with a pretty good granola recipe that I still churn out from time to time. 

As this is the first recipe I've posted, I feel the need to include several disclaimers.  As I mentioned above, be flexible.  If you don't have any coconut (or if you hate it and don't want to use it at all), the recipe will still work.  The ingredient list below is a best-case scenario.  Many people forego cooking because they freak out if they don't have every single thing on the list.  Improvise!  Now, if you don't have any oatmeal...this tip might not work out so well for you (including the basic skeleton ingredients is kind of a must).  But use your imagination - you'll be surprised at the results. 

Also, using quality ingredients really makes a difference in the way your food will turn out.  But you know what?  If you don't have a $40 bottle of olive oil on hand (or can't afford it!) it's OK.  Just use what you have.   It's better than nothing! 

Good Morning Granola
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup slivered almonds (or pecans or walnuts or a combo of all three)
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil (it's solid at room temperature); canola oil will also work well here
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed into the measuring cup
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dried fruit (I used dried blueberries, cranberries and cherries this morning.  Dried apricots or dates are yummy in this recipe, too.)

Set the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  (Do not underestimate the power of parchment paper!  I love it.  It is one of my kitchen BFFs (best friends forever).  Cookies won't stick to it, reducing the need for nonstick sprays.  The next time you bake chicken, use it on the bottom of the dish:  you'll be thanking yourself as you clean the kitchen.  Also, it doesn't smoke when heated - a big boost for the good vibes in your kitchen:  wax paper smoke stinks.)  In a large bowl, mix the oats, coconut and almonds together.  Spread on the prepared baking sheet and bake/toast for 10 minutes.  (Don't overbake:  the almonds will take on a strange bitter taste.)

In a saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the coconut oil, the brown sugar, honey and vanilla.  Stir almost constantly and bring it to a boil (this creates such a wonderful, homey fragrance). 

Return toasted oats mixture to the large bowl.  Add the berries and toss.  Then, pour the butter & honey mixture over the oats and berries and stir. 

Return to parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  Let it cool and then store in an air-tight container (it will retain its delicious chewiness better that way). 

You can break it up as I did in these photos, or you can bake the granola in an 8x8 baking dish and then slice it into bars after it has cooled.

But for goodness' sakes, enjoy it before you pass out from hunger!


Heather -Gathering Spriggs said...

wow! i think i would have been on the floor already! you are a ROCK! (and i can't even drink caffeine of any sort any more...) and I still faint with hunger. thanks for this dear!! i needed it this morning when i woke up at 6am with a voracious appetite. but was not feeling nearly the creative energy you were. i opted for a tortilla and nutella. (cause i did make nutella crepes this weekend but we were out of those so this was kinda the white trash version). anyway, i just wanted to say thanks for this recipe (and the ones to come) and your heirloom tomato salad and squash stories. they prompted me to whip up a luscious summertime dinner last night of sauteed summer squash and homegrown tomatoes with organic chicken breasts over a bed of fresh spinach and basil. seasoned with fresh thyme salt and pepper. i've always wanted a faraway peak into Ginny's kitchen. thank you!

Ginny said...

YUM. That dinner sounds delish!!! You go with your homegrown tomatoes!!!

And Nutella crepes?! Double yum. I meant to tell you this story: I had to run into the grocery store for some milk for the bebes yesterday morning. I was putting the groceries in my car when I glanced over at a lady who had been at the check-out line next to me. She was also putting her groceries into her car, but she then stopped. She fished a new jar of Nutella out of one of the bags, unscrewed the lid, and just stuck her tongue right in, closing her eyes and enjoying that little private moment right out in the parking lot. I smiled and emoted to her: "I understand, honey. I understand."

Ginny said...

And also - I have never tried thyme salt. Is it a must-have? Do you love it?

Heather -Gathering Spriggs said...

LOL!! I love that Nutella story! oh, the power of chocolate and hazelnuts. sweet! so I am making the granola right now as we speak! its baking in the oven. you wanna hear my version? i used molasses instead of honey , coconut powder, and dried cherries and apricots cause that's what i had in the pantry. i love that idea of using what you have. you didn't mention it in your lovely post but is it ok to lick the remainder of the butter/honey mixture out of the saucepan before washing out??! im impressed with your gorgeous photos .. my version was a little more Laurel and Hardy rather than a Victoria Magazine cover shoot.
oh,,, and im not that gourmet. just bad with grammar. meant thyme, salt. not thyme salt. sorry. however i would love to get my hands on some Fleur de Sel. Do you have any??

Ginny said...

That sounds so good...I bet the cherries and apricots are a beautiful color combination with the golden oats.

Do you remember the story of Will Stewart and his brother tricking their dad with the horse food, serving it to him as "muesli"? Well, I have to admit that back in the day when we had horses, I did "snitch" the horse feed...more than once. And it was so delish. Putting the molasses in the granola, to me, gives it that true Woerner Warehouse scent that I find absolutely irresistable. (And I am LOVING that you are just using what you have! BTW - that horse food comment is not meant to be dissing your substitution choice!! I actually wish I was there to sample your granola. Ours is already all gone.)

Of course. Licking the spoon, saucepan, etc. is a requirement. Should have mentioned that!

No - I need to get some Fleur de Sel.

Oh! Well, thyme salt sounds good, doesn't it??!?

Here's a hug. Have a wonderful day. (And if you have any heavy cream, pour it on your granola!! Beyond delicious!)

Heather -Gathering Spriggs said...

i completely forgot about the will stewart incident til you mentioned it. but yes. love horse feed!! and that smell. it wasn't quite woerner warehouse in my kitchen but i think still homey smelling with a little carbon thrown in.
cause it got a little burnt around the edges. so not perfection but still good. i also fudged the measurements a little so next time it think it will be better but robert gobbled it (minus the apricots and added chocolate chips).
i poured almond milk over mine cause im trying not to eat dairy for PMS reasons.
but just wanted to stop in and share this link for another food blog. she is british and i think travels and cooks . .. not quite sure but she always leaves comments on my blog..
love you girl.
hugs to you..
ps. i love your profile pic. so free and the wonderful bohemian side of Ginny that I love . reminds me of this pics of you riding your riding lawn mower over to our house in the summers with your hair braided and white jean shorts!

Anjie said...

I hate mornings. I haven't cooked anything today...oh yeah, I fixed spaghetti O's for the boys! I at one time while typing was intaking so much caffeine and not noticing that I couldn't even paint my nails I was shaking so bad. My mom was scared I had a neurological problem, just cut down on some of the caffeine and feel pretty normal now...well almost :) I will let Kevin know about the recipe, your photos are awesome!

Ginny said...

My kids would love it if I fixed Spaghetti-Os. Maybe they would eat that. It was World War 3 over here last night just trying to get Timothy to eat yogurt and cantalope. Any advice on that would be appreciated. I've already tried the no-snacks-less-milk approach...to no avail...yet.

Heather -Gathering Spriggs said...

i tried this recipe again. and i think if i were going to write a food blog, which would be a funny joke in itself, it would have to be called : "Cooking with a Fire Extinguisher, Living with Carcinogins"

Not only did i burn it again but nearly burnt down the kitchen because the dish for the honey butter was too small and boiled over into the dark recesses of my electric cooktop.