Sunday, February 22, 2009
Granola: adjective and crunchy food
The word granola has more than one meaning. I have heard it used as an adjective intended to mean outdoorsy, likely to wear birkenstocks in the summer, or perhaps a little smelly, but I'm not sure exactly if the adjective granola is free from negative connotations.
Just this past week I found myself being described by a friend in my graduate program to a new acquaintance as "granola". I wasn't sure how I should react, emotionally or verbally, on the spot to such a description. So when it happened recently, I let it slide...or maybe I pretended I couldn't hear what was said. Either way, it reminded me of a plan I had this summer to replicate the dreamiest granola I'd ever eaten.
In May of 2008, my boyfriend Matt and I drove to Mendocino. We stayed at the wonderful Booneville Hotel, in the Anderson Valley. It was breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful, and aside from having the most ideal lodging, we found a terrific cafe that made their own granola. Ever since our return from that trip, I've been trying different granola recipes, trying to create the perfect granola experience. I should qualify that the perfect granola for me is sweet, but not too sweet, and chewy. After being called granola last week, I decided to act my adjective and make another attempt at the perfect granola. The resulting product was sweet, but not too sweet, and very delicious; both sugar- and oil-free, this recipe is perhaps the most PC granola I've ever made. Unfortunately for my taste, it was crunchy. I will try again soon and repost when I have the perfect chewy granola recipe. But for now, this one will do for you crunchy fans, I think.
5 c old-fashioned oats
1 c sunflower seeds
2 c coconut, shredded, unsweetened
2 c raw almonds
1/2 c brown rice syrup
3 T agave
2 c raisins
1. Preheat oven to 350. Lining 2 sheet pans with parchment will make cleanup easier, but it's up to you if you actually use it or not.
2. On one of the sheet pans, dump the seeds, coconut, and almonds. Toast lightly in oven while it preheats. Leave in oven for about 8 minutes, but watch carefully so as to not let the coconut flakes get too darkened.
3. Measure oats into a very large mixing bowl. Add the toasted seeds, coconut, and almonds. Mix.
4. Add the sweeteners, and mix well, until all contents look fairly well coated.
5. Divide mixture into two batches, spreading each batch on its own sheet pan, aiming for one layer deep, only.
6. Pop sheets in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, and then check to see how trays are doing. The granola should be light to medium brown in color, but if it's too light, remove it from oven, stir it up with a spatula, and replace in oven, baking in 5 minute increments until you think it looks perfect.
7. When done, remove granola from oven, and let cool. When cooling process is almost done, you may add the raisins (we add them at the end because if they bake they will get tough and chewy).
I greatly enjoy this delicious crunchy granola on top of plain, thick, Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey.