OK, so now that I’ve made this “big” decision and am about to leap heels first from the proverbial cliff into a new world, I have a confession to make. This may come as a shock to those of you out there who know me to be this cosmopolitan miss with a closet full of pricey heels and a trendy zip code in Gotham City, but here it is: deep down, way deep down, I’m a closeted hippie. There, I said it, though I’m not sure hippies would come out of a closet. Maybe a yurt. Anyway, while I’ve waltzed around in Prada reading New York Magazine, drinking dirty martinis and oozing cosmopolitan-ness, in the dark corners of my being there’s a string of love beads around my neck and Grateful Dead playing in the background. Oh sure, I’ve hid it well. My home is decidedly un-hippie in art and substance. You won’t find tie-dye, a futon or Peter Max anywhere. There’s no brown rice in my pantry, my fridge filled with things that would horrify vegans and vegetarians alike (three different types of bacon, cream, butter). There’s nary a bean sprout or brick of tofu in sight, yet a hint of hippie is still there.
I have laughed about the hippie in others around me. I’ve mocked “crunchy granola-ness” when encountered, because seriously, full-on crunchy granola is really mock-worthy. And let’s face it, while Birkenstocks might be comfortable, anything that makes even a petite foot look like a catamaran is not exactly fetching, and certainly nothing you’d find in my closet. So when I made the decision to leave metropolis for a decidedly crunchier landscape, the latent hippie in my head let out a “far out man”, while the cosmo girl stared back in disbelief. Could I really make the switch? Would my inner hippie chick finally get her day? I could be like one of those girls in the Sundance catalog! Ok, maybe that’s a stretch, but add 25 years and 25 pounds and you never know. And then the big question…would I actually swap Prada for Birki? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see. But I have a feeling that even when my inner hippie chick is a few thousand miles away from 10011, the other gal will be there too, in a chic Sundance kaftan and a pair of Prada clogs…
What other recipe could I possibly make this week than Crunchy Granola? I love granola over yogurt, ice cream or just out of hand, and what I love most about making it myself is that I control the sweetness and can chock it full of my favorite stuff. This is my go-to recipe for basic granola, but it’s highly adaptable to whatever dried fruits or nuts you have on hand. My favorites are dried cherries, raisins and almonds, but cranberries, apricots, pecans or pumpkin seeds would all work equally well. I use a nut butter in place of oil, and sweeten with a combination of brown sugar and Lyle’s Golden Syrup. Golden syrup is well-known in the UK and has a subtle caramel flavor. Since it’s not available everywhere, honey or agave is a perfect substitute.
Makes about 4 cups
The granola will keep well for a week or so in an airtight container, but I doubt you’ll have to worry about storing it for long.
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick cook or steel-cut)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ¼ cup dried tart cherries
- ¼ cup raisins (I use jumbo ones from Trader Joe’s)
- 1/3 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped (I used unsalted roasted ones, but raw ones are fine too)
- ¼ tsp salt
- Zest and juice from a large orange (a little more than ¼ cup)
- ¾ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ginger
- ¼ tsp cardamom
- 2 TBSP brown sugar
- 2 TBSP Lyle’s Golden Syrup (substitute honey or agave if you can’t find)
- 2 TBSP almond butter
Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a sided cookie sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray.
Coarsely chop the cherries and toss with the raisins (if you are using jumbo raisins, chop those too.) Set the dried fruit aside – you’ll add them into the granola once it comes out of the oven.
In a medium bowl, toss together the oats, coconut, orange zest, salt, spices and nuts. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, syrup, almond butter, orange juice and a good pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook for about a minute, stirring (careful that it doesn’t boil over.) Pour over the oat mixture and mix well. Pour onto prepared cookies sheet and spread out. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it the last 10 minutes so it doesn’t get too dark. When everything is golden brown and starting to get crispy, turn off the oven but leave pan in as the oven cools. This will guarantee a crunchy granola. Once the granola is nice and crisp, sprinkle over the dried fruit and toss. Kick off the Birkis (or Pradas) and, like…enjoy, man… Calories: about 200 per ½ cup.
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