breaking in the kitchen – granola

I have to admit: I’ve never been one for making granola. As much as I enjoy the stuff, it’s always felt like making it would be more trouble than it would be worth.

However, I’m a sucker for color. Something I want to do in this new apartment is display the beautiful colors of food, and I have no shame in saying that this means glass jars. I am still working on the kitchen (it’s going to be a long haul), and I thought that a good way to start making it mine would be to make something pretty for a big ole jar! Something colorful and fun, like granola.

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My past experiences with making granola have usually involved burning. I still ate it, but it didn’t exactly taste like the stuff from the bulk bins. This time I wanted it to work! I combined the oats, nuts and seeds first. I used what I had on hand.

One thing that I like in store bought granolas are the teeny crunchy bits, like millet or sesame seeds. I didn’t have any of that, so after putting about 1/8th cup of sunflower seeds in the mix, I laid out another 1/4th cup and chopped them coarsely before adding them in.

Next was granola-fying. On the stovetop, I mixed water, oil and honey at a low boil, then poured it and mixed it in to the dry ingredients. Then I poured the mixture out onto a prepared baking sheet (I used foil, but I recommend parchment paper), and baked it for 20 minutes at 325 F. I have a hot oven, so you may want to go up to 350 F.

While it was baking, I chopped up dried apricots and cranberries. In a perfect world, I’d have added golden raisins and sultanas, but I wanted to stick to using what I had on hand.

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I will say for a fact that I overcooked it. After I took the baking sheet out of the oven, it kept crisping on the sheet. So keep that in mind if you’re tempted to give them a few extra minutes!

This granola looks absolutely lovely in my jar. In fact, I made so much that it filled two jars, and I had to eat a decent sized bowl with yogurt because there was so much!

To go along with my granola, I also filled up an old (dare I say ‘retro’) container with rolled oats. Then I opened up this beautiful spice rack that I got for Christmas (the box says Williams Sonoma, but I know for a fact it’s a Goodwill) and filled it up! Looking good, little jars. I went to the bulk bins yesterday and have a lot more food waiting for a container of their own…

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Granola

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup whole raw almonds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds, divided
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup oil (I used olive)
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups dried fruit, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, assemble the dry: oats, nuts, cinnamon, and salt. Add 1/4 cup of the sesame seeds as they are, and coarsely chop the other 1/4 cup before adding.

In a saucepan, carefully bring just to a simmer the water, oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Once it has combined, it is ready. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir, just until all the oats are coated. Spread onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes so the granola browns evenly. It will continue to crisp up after you remove it from the oven. Add the chopped fruit while it is still warm, then let cool and store in a large container.

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