In the 80s and 90s and early 00s, I came from the culture where “granola” is an adjective, a word when coupled with “crunchy” that conveys the convergence of everything earthy and edgy and all-natural to the extreme. Examples of this include conscious cloth consumers, reduce-reuse-recyle renegades, and the more fragrant dudes who forgo deodorant for a dab of patchouli under the ear.
In the common counterculture vernacular, I could be easily described by an observer as “the granola professor who does the workshop tent at Bonnaroo.” Even as I try to retire from my hippy-punk roots into more a more modest middle-age in relative middle-class comfort in my cozy college town, there’s one place that I’m still all-granola, and that’s the kitchen, where I try to be as buy-local, grow-your-own, DIY, all-natural, organic, and homemade as possible.
So the breakfast stapleat my house is, of course, homemade granola, which I usually serve with organic, whole milk yogurt and drizzled with local honey.
We make this in batches once a month and that lasts to keep our morning bellies happy on busy workdays. My recipe for granola breaks down into three basic components: the oats, the goo, and the accessories.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and get out your best, large (such as 9 x 12) baking or cake pans. Begin with a 42 ounce cylindrical box of Whole Grain Oats (these are available at your grocer, and the boxes can be re-used to store the finished granola). Pour the oats into a large mixing bowl and add your crunchy accessories – which for us might involve an assortment of raw nuts like cashews, walnuts, almonds, pecans, pepitas, or even sunflower or sesame seeds, depending on the batch. The choice of nuts really caters to your tastes and/or what you keep around your pantry.
Next, you need to prepare the sweet gorgeous goo to fill, and simmer in, a small or medium saucepan. I encourage you to experiment from batch to batch with what you like best in your goo and what the best quantity of goo is for your perfect granola. For me, it’s a medium saucepan with a mixture that’s about half sweets like organic sugar, honey, and maple syrup and half oils and fats—stuff like olive oil, canola oil, butter, peanut butter, tahini, almond butter. I never use too much nut butter and tend to stick with one kind per batch.
When the goo gets good and warm and melted and mixed, pour it over the oats and nuts, stirring carefully with a wooden spoon. If you’re an animated cook like me, it’s easy to make a mess at this stage, so be careful. Once the goo evenly coats the oat mixture, pour into your baking pans, which it wouldn’t hurt to oil or spray lightly. Bake for approximately an hour at 350 or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Let cool and eat.
I’ve been making granola like this for years, and it’s always delicious and relatively nutritious. Dig in and get crunchy!