When you’re a little nervous, there’s something relaxing about the rhythmic motion of stirring, and the smell of warm peanut butter and toasted oats wafting through the kitchen. Tomorrow is my first day of school, and I’m a little nervous. My uniform is laid out – chef’s coat, checked pants, neckerchief, apron, hat, side towel, black leather shoes. I’ve gone over chapter one in the big binder, learned words like épluchage and a l’étuvée, packed my notecards and pencils and pens. And I’ve mixed a big batch of homemade granola.
More specifically, this afternoon I mixed up a big batch of my Aunt Marie’s homemade granola. Even if you’re not a little nervous, I suggest you make some yourself. It’s crunchy and healthy and naturally sweet, and it was made to be scooped over greek yogurt with fruit and honey, or tumbled over a bowl of creamy vanilla ice cream. All you have to do is stir and bake and cool, and voila – toasty granola, calm nerves, happy tummy. And, hopefully, a good first week of chef school…
There are no real set quantities for this recipe – basically, you’ll need enough raw oats to cover the bottoms of two 9×13 metal baking dishes, and enough of everything else to sprinkle liberally on top. If you’re particularly fond of a certain ingredient, go ahead and pile it on. If you’re not so fond of another, skip it (I won’t tell my Aunt Marie, even though she does know what she’s talking about. She just wrote a book, for goodness sake! Check it out here.). Just enjoy the sprinkling and stirring, and the wonderful smell of sweet, toasty nuts and grains. This makes a lot of granola, so feel free to half the recipe, but it also freezes beautifully, so don’t be shy about making the whole batch.
- Raw Oats
- Ground flaxseed
- Ground wheat bran
- Unsweetened flaked coconut
- Raw pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds
- Slivered or sliced almonds
- dried cranberries (or small dried fruit of any kind such as raisins or dried cherries)
- toasted pecans
- ½ to 3/4 cups of canola oil
- ½ cup of natural peanut butter
- ¼ cup of honey
- 1 tbsp of cinnamon
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Spread a thick layer of raw oats onto the bottom of two baking dishes (9×13), then sprinkle plenty of flax seed, wheat bran, coconut, almonds, and seedson top of the oats (roughly a handful or so of each), and stir until the oat layer is flecked through.
Mix the canola oil, peanut butter, honey and cinnamon in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high for about 1 minute until warm and blended. Divide the warm peanut butter mixture between the two pans and stir well into the dry ingredients.
Bake the mixture in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until toasty and golden. Cool granola thoroughly before storing indefinitely in the freezer.
Makes about 6-8 cups of granola.