One food epiphany I had recently, while reading the back of an oatmeal box, is how very easy it is to make your own granola. Homemade granola is simply a mix of oats, nuts and dried fruit, baked in the oven until crunchy. The fun lies in customization: you can add wheat flakes for a Swiss-style muesli, choose almonds , walnuts or macadamia, paired with, for example, chopped dates, dried cherries or lime zest, add seeds like sesame or sunflower, toss with brown sugar or honey. The possibilities are infinite.
It's also a great way to clean out your pantry (which I've been trying to do this week since I will be traveling all of next month.) Taking cue from a bag of pecans left unshelled since the fall, I decided to make maple granola with pecans, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle over a dallop of ceamy yogurt and enjoy it while crunchy or wait a little until it gets soft.
Maple granola with pecans, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds
-butter 6 tablespoons
-maple syrup 1 cup
-rolled oats 3 cups
-pecans, shelled 1 cup
-raw pumpkin seeds 1 cup
-dried cranberries 1 cup
-salt 1 teaspoon
Melt in a small saucepan butter and maple syrup (try Grade B, which has a deeper flavor.) Combine in a large bowl the rolled oats, pecans,raw pumpkin seeds and salt. Pour over the butter syrup and toss to coat. Scatter the mix across a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cranberries and cool completely before storing in airtight container.
(Pecans have smooth and slippery shells and are impossible to crack without crushing the nutmeat to bits. Is there a technique I wonder?)