Homemade crunchy granola

So, the other day my husband "mentioned" he might be interested in having some homemade granola. I totally understand that he has these passing fancies for random things, but after he mentioned it, I got a hankering for some granola, too. It's been awhile since I tossed together a batch of granola, and was ready for the adventure.

A long time ago, in a whole other life, I worked at this crazy little health food store in Uptown Minneapolis calledTao Natural Foods. It was a fun job - and a wonderful environment. I learned all about vitamins, health food, why people drink wheat grass, and cooking. I love to cook, so having the opportunity to make fresh salsa, hummus, and granola on a weekly basis (and get paid for it) kicked ass.

I always made the basic granola, but would then add seasonal ingredients or something different to make it interesting. But, I always stuck to the basic deal. Oats, almonds, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, and butter. There are a couple other things that go into it, but if you have those few, simple ingredients, you can make a chunky, totally grungy, granola.

Not only is this a healthy granola, it fills your house with an amazing smell. A smell that makes you want more, and more, and more. Once you've made it, you'll want to tweak the recipe to fit your taste, add ingredients that you love, and enjoy the total yumminess of granola.

Ingredients

6 cups oats

1 cup slivered almonds - toasted

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar (I like using raw, unrefined sugar - and you can use brown sugar, too)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons maple syrup

How to make the stuff

Start by toasting your silvered almonds in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven. It only takes a couple of minutes, so don't wander too far. Create an even layer of the almonds on a sheet tray and toss them in the oven. After about two minutes, they'll be ready to be flipped and cooked for just a couple more minutes.

While your almonds are toasting, measure out your oats into a nice sized mixing bowl. Sprinkle over the cinnamon and a good dash of salt and then stir.

Once the almonds are all toasty, carefully add them to your bowl of oats. Stir it all together and lower your oven temp to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now, measure out the water, sugar, honey, oil and butter and place in a small saucepan. Gently bring the ingredients to a boil while stirring. You don't want to lose any of this precious liquid!

Once the sugar has melted together with the other loveliness, turn off the heat and add the vanilla. Pour over your bowl of oats and stir with a long-handled spoon to coat the oats and cool them to a comfortable hand touching temperature.

Get out a couple of sheet pans and evenly distribute your coated oats. Wash your hands and get ready to release some stress! Squeeze your oats, pinch them, and mush them up creating fantastic chunks of granola. Gently shake and move the trays to distribute those happy clusters so there is an even layer of gnarly oatmeal granola and place in your oven.

Let the oats toast for about 10 minutes and then remove the pans and gently use a spatula to turn and move the granola.

Put the trays back in the oven and continue turning and cooking until everything is a golden brown, which can take up to 45 minutes.

NOW, the best thing ever is to remove those hot pans, place them atop your oven, and drizzle the granola with REAL maple syrup. We're not talking cups or anything, a couple of tablespoons will do. You'll hear the maple syrup caramelizing on the pans as it hits the residual heat.

Gently turn the granola, helping to coat the outside with the maple syrup.

Wait at least 30 seconds before attempting to eat your fresh granola or you will burn your mouth. YOU'LL BURN YOUR MOUTH!

Let the granola cool completely and then store in airtight containers.

Considerations

You can add tons of stuff to this basic granola - pretty much anything you can think of. I've tossed in dried fruits, raisins (duh), all different kids of nuts, and even fresh herbs. The best way to incorporate additional ingredients is to gently mix the items into the granola after it's been removed from the oven while it's cooling. This way the ingredients don't dry out in the oven, and remain fresh and tasty.

Yes, this granola is healthy. It's made with oats. That's healthy stuff. You can use your homemade granola for lots of other things than breakfast, such as added to stuffing for cooking with turkey or chicken, grinded up for coating your favorite filet of fish, or tossed into your fresh popped and buttered popcorn - or sprinkled on really good vanilla ice cream!

I just eat it by the handful.

 

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