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!