This blog was launched on a resolution, my first in years (decades?), and is a great reminder of why I stopped doing resolutions. Life changes in a year. Life changes in a few hours with kids at home. I was going at a good clip until June, when my delicately balanced house of parenting/wifing/working cards caught a little breeze and came crashing down. The details aren’t that interesting or important, but it was ONE appointment that essentially set (and then upset and reset) our entire summer schedule.
I’m pretty sure I tried (at least) 52 new recipes last year, but I didn’t keep track of them that well or share many at all, so I readily admit that failure. I over-promised and under-delivered. The former business consultant in me is deeply disappointed.
I’m going to keep cooking and sharing (when time and interest allows) and maybe writing about not cooking stuff, too. If at first you don’t succeed, change the parameters to increase the odds next time!
We finished the Christmas cookies last night. Before Christmas, I baked 4 types of cookies (Nutella thumbprints, sugar cutouts, chocolate shortbreads, and gingersnaps), a panettone, a panforte, and made horribly sticky cornflake “wreaths” with Peanut and Meatball (perhaps “roundish wads of sprinkleglop” is a better descriptor). This was down from my usual production of at least 6 types of cookie (Rangers and white chocolate cranberry oatmeal got passed over this year), the aforementioned Italian confections, and German Stollen and a traditional English fruitcake (don’t start, my fruitcake is delicious). We travelled this year and I just didn’t want it all sitting around while we were gone. Because I skipped the fruitcakes and had to buy some additional ingredients for the other stuff, I found myself sitting on an apocalypse-ready cache of dried fruit and nuts. Granola basically staring me in the face, I found a “Basic Granola Recipe” on chowhound and used it to make what I’m calling Tenth Day of Christmas Granola (it will have all the Lords a-Leaping!). Just like last year, my notes on the original recipe are in bold.
- 3 cups rolled oats (not instant) The cheapest rolled oats at our local grocery were thick cut (from Bob’s Red Mill). I figured granola isn’t something that needs to be delicate or tender so I went for it, and I think it may have helped the oats to not burn like they often have when I have previously made granola.
- 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar This seemed like a lot in addition to the honey, so I used 1 tablespoon of turbinado sugar (it was the most accessible sugar in the cabinet. I’m really scientific about all of this.)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt I used pink salt because ours is much finer than kosher and I wanted more even distribution (see? science!)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil Canola is my flavor-neutral, high smoke point oil of choice, so I used that.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Because I was using hazelnuts and a fruit blend, I went with 1/2 teaspoon each of orange and vanilla extract.
- 1/2 cup small-dice dried fruit I used a whole cup of King Arthur Flour’s Fruitcake Blend, which is raisins, cranberries, dates, currants, and pineapple.
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped raw or toasted nuts or seeds I used about 3/4 cup of chopped raw hazelnuts.
- Heat the oven to 300°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
- Place the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine; set aside. I also added the nuts and fruit here. I wasn’t too worried about the fruit burning and I wanted the raw nuts to toast with the granola.
- Place the honey, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl and stir to combine. Pour over the oat mixture and mix until the oats are thoroughly coated. My honey was crystallized almost solid, so I microwaved the honey and oil together before stirring in the extracts.
- Spread the mixture in a thin, even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Save clean up, use a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet! Bake for 15 minutes, then stir and continue baking until the granola is very light golden brown, about 5 to 15 minutes more. Despite having nearly twice the volume because of the added fruit and nuts, I was able to easily fit everything onto a half sheet pan and it cooked in the same time.
- Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and cool the granola to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. (Note: It will harden as it cools.) I kind of got to typing this and forgot to stir. Things got sticky and it took a little more effort than maybe it could have to get things moving once they had set, but it still worked out and then I didn’t have to worry about step 6 because it was already all together.
- Add the fruit and nuts or seeds to the baking sheet and toss to combine.Store the granola in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. 2 weeks? Not necessary, this will be lucky to make it through the Epiphany.
So there it is, and the results are exactly what I was looking for; the fruit is chewy, the oats are nice and crispy, the hazelnuts are toasty and crunchy, and it’s not overly sweet. The cinnamon and orange are magical together. I have some slivered almonds and dried cherries for my next batch, which I’ll probably do with almond extract. I also want to try pistachios and apricots (with ginger instead of cinnamon?), or pecans and dates (maybe with maple syrup in place of some of the honey). I love recipes like this that can be made differently every time.
I can’t (okay, WON’T) commit to timing on future posts. Under-promise and over-deliver is my plan for 2018. #whatevergetsdonein2018