Small Triumphs

September 24th, 2012 · 19 Comments · Baking and Sweets

There’s this meal — it comes every single day whether I like it or not and it is a continuing source of stress for me. At this meal, my kids turn their noses up at anything new; we’re always in a rush because we are pressed for time, and I am perenially un-inspired to come up with new things to make for them. The meal? Breakfast. Both Andy and I have gone on record declaring it the Hate Story to our house’s Dinner’s Love Story. Somehow, when the girls show up at the evening table, they show up with minds open, tastebuds flexing. They will eat oysters and duck curry and on occasion have been known to fight me for the last piece of Hamachi crudo. But at breakfast? Forget it. If it’s not one of the SuperStarches of the Morning Table (French Toast, Pancakes, Bagels) they’re not interested.

Until now. I’m almost afraid to type this for fear of jinxing things, but we seem to be in a good place — thanks to Abby’s sudden affection for the overpriced, oversweetened Starbucks parfaits, and Mom’s polite suggestion to maybe just maybe have one at a different time of day? Like say…Breakfast? Phoebe got on board as soon as I told her we could make the granola and she could customize the batch however she liked it.

And we were off.

The backbone: I start with a simplified version of the one I loved in the Times last yearOats, brown sugar, coconut, syrup, oil, salt, and cinnamon.

Then we add the Variables: Pistachios, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, raisins, dried cherries, cardamom. Not shown: pepitas, hazelnuts, chopped walnuts, flaxseed, sesame, millet, dried pineapple, apricots, or apples.

Basic Granola

In a large bowl, mix together:

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey (have not tried agave, but I will very soon)
1/2 cup oil (I like olive oil, but anything works)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Then mix in your pre-bake extras (any or all of the following):

1 1/2 cups nuts (such as pistachios, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, pepitas, hazelnuts, chopped walnuts)
1/2 cup coconut flakes (unsweetened)
1/4 cup of variables (such as millet, sesame seeds)

Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake at 300°F for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer granola to a large bowl and let cool.

Finish by tossing in some post-bake extras.
handful of M&Ms, chocolate chips, carobs
handful of dried fruit such as: dried cherries, apricots, raisins, pineapples, apples.

Store in an easily accessible jar. To make parfaits, layer plain yogurt, granola, honey, and fresh fruit (such as jarred Morello cherries from Trader Joe’s — pictured — or pomegranate seeds, strawberries, blueberries) in the most fun glass you can find.

Note: Phoebe picked the basic formula plus coconut flakes plus pistachios and almonds. She likes hers with no fresh fruit. Abby takes hers with cherries and pomegranate seeds.

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I’ll-Miss-You Granola

June 22nd, 2010 · 19 Comments · Baking and Sweets, Rituals

This might also be called “Thanks-for-having-me” Granola or “Congratulations” Granola or “Just-Because” Granola. Because once you taste the crazy good olive-oil infused concoction — as I did at my friend Melissa‘s house — you will want to make it for everyone you know for every occasion. So far, mason jar after mason jar has been filled with it and given to my dad for Father’s Day, to weekend hosts who let my family crash their home for a backyard camp-out, and for my daughters’ two heaven-sent teachers as end-of-the-year gifts. I gave the girls blank shipping tags (which you can find at any stationery store) so they could tie on a personalized message. Abby chose “I’ll Miss You” and Phoebe chose  ”I Love You.” That one works, too.

I’ll-Miss-You Granola
From Melissa Clark’s Olive Oil Granola, The New York Times.

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups raw pistachios, hulled
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas), hulled
1 cup coconut chips
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Special equipment
Medium-size mason jars or any old glass jars
Plain shipping tags

Preheat oven to 300°F. In a large bowl, combine oats, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted. Transfer granola to a large bowl and let cool. Add to jars when completely cool and tie a shipping tag to the top. If there is no notch on the lid as shown above, replace the tag’s string with a long, thin ribbon and tie the tag around the neck of the jar.

If you’re not giving the granola away, serve with yogurt and fresh berries.

Makes about 9 cups.

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