I've been on a bit of a homemade kick the last few months, making all kinds of things from scratch. Things like beef jerky, apple butter, crackers, steak sauce, and breads of various kinds. My favorite homemade recipe has turned out to be granola. I'd been buying a tasty pumpkin seed/flax granola from Whole Foods, which I eat with chopped fruit and kefir, but I now prefer my homebrewed mixture. My starting point -- for it's really more a list of suggestions, or a technique, than a recipe -- is from the book D.I.Y. Delicious: Recipes and Ideas for Simple Food from Scratch by Vanessa Barrington. This attractive little book contains not only dozens of from-scratch recipes -- everything from homemade mustard and yogurt to tortillas and sauerkraut -- but also follow-up recipes that use your homemade creations to their best advantage. Most of the recipes are straightforward, but "Granola Your Way" takes a more touchy-feely approach, including a mix-and-match chart to help you combine your favorite ingredients into your ideal granola. Here's the recipe I came up with, and I gotta say, it's yummy:
GRANOLA MY WAY
makes about 12 1/2-cup servings
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
4 cups Nature's Path Flax Plus Multigrain Flakes
a handful of flaked, sweetened coconut
2 handfuls of flax seeds
2 handfuls of raw, shelled pumpkin seeds
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup dried tart cherries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and add the syrup, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice. Remove from heat and let it cool a little bit.
In a large bowl, combine the cereal flakes, coconut, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. Toss to mix. Pour the warmed butter mixture over and toss with a large spoon until evenly and lightly coated.
Transfer the mixture to a large baking sheet and spread out evenly in a thin layer. You may need to use two baking sheets. Bake until evenly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Stop halfway through and stir the ingredients so that they brown evenly. Remove from the oven, add the dried cherries, and toss to combine. Let the granola cool completely on the baking sheet and store at room temperature in an airtight container. It will stay fresh for up to 3 weeks, stored properly.
I must add that there's no way this granola will last 3 weeks, because it will have been gobbled up long before then. Also, be prepared for your house to fill with the most delectable aroma EVER while the granola is baking. While you certainly don't need to add any fresh fruit to this concoction, I think fresh strawberries or blueberries are great companions to the dried cherries.