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Thanks be to…granola

November 17, 2010

Things I like about technology: instant recipe recall anytime anywhere, driving directions on my phone (no impertinent map to re-fold), ready answers on how many teaspoons are in a packet of yeast, Christmas countdown apps.  I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the earliest adopter.  I don’t wait at my computer refreshing the screen, waiting for Steve Job’s annual address to appear.  (I leave that vigilance to Big Friend.  I will also leave it up to him to inform me that I don’t need to refresh the screen in order to watch the address.)  Regardless, I’ve become quite comfortable with the ways in which technology makes my life better.

I mean, what would I do without iPhoto to save, store, and organize all 6,331 pics of Little Friend?

Technology has feathered my little nest quite nicely, but let me not cast it as life’s panacea.  Technology could put forth all of its far-reaching resources and mind-bending advancements and still fail at capturing the smells leaking from my kitchen right now.  And trust me, these are smells to brighten, comfort, and buoy your day.

I think about my younger sister taking a mason jar to the beach, capturing the ocean breeze, twisting the lid tight, and taking it home to sit on her bedside table.  I think of the moment when I cross the state line into North Carolina, inhale the southern pines, and I’m transported to my childhood visits to my grandparents’ wooded house.  I think of Oliver Wendell Holmes’ observation: “Memories, imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel.”

If I hold a mason jar open in my kitchen, is there some way I can transport the smell through to your computer?

I want to pass you the smell of baking granola.

I’ve got two batches drying in the oven right now.  Two batches of my favorite homemade granolas, thanks to recipes adapted from one of my favorite date-weekend retreats: Lake Pointe Inn in  Deep Creek, Maryland.  Just smelling the granola baking has me reliving breakfasts in the inn’s dining room overlooking a frozen lake framed with pine trees shrugging off the previous night’s wet snow.

Little Friend is at an age where her long-term memory is just beginning to press moments deep into the folds of her grey matter.  I catch myself watching her wide-eyed wonder at the world; I try to guess, “Will this be her first memory?  Will this?”  My own first memory traces back to when I was just a bit older than Little Friend, sitting on the toilet (a brand new activity at that time), asking God for a baby sister.

I’m baking optimistically today.  I’m baking and praying that the smell of granola floating up the stairs will somehow lodge itself deep into Little Friend’s memory to jolt her some day back to this dim, rainy, November day when she’s just waking up from her nap, cheeks flushed, hair matted, to a snug bed and warm bowl of granola.

Thanks be to the smell of freshly baked granola.

The delicious crunch and smooth finish of this granola is reason enough to invest the 15 minutes of prep time and 60 minutes of baking/babysitting time.  But the smell?  Ah.  Well, let me just find an empty mason jar, and I’ll prove it to you…

Br’er Rabbit Granola
Adapted from Lake Pointe Inn

1/2 cup apple cider

1/2 cup black strap molasses

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

4 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup dried raisins

1/2 cup chopped dried dates

1.  Put 4 cups oats in large bowl.  Add pecans.

2.  In a small saucepan, combine apple cider, molasses, and coconut oil.  Bring just to a boil.  Remove from heat and add vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

3.  Add to oat mixture and combine thoroughly.

4.  Spread mixture evenly on jelly roll pan.  Bake in 250 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until crisp.  Check every 30 minutes stirring the granola to make sure it is browning evenly and does not burn.

5.  When the granola becomes golden brown and crisp, remove from oven and allow to cool.

6.  Add raisins and dates.

Lake Pointe Gold Granola
Adapted from Lake Pointe Inn

1/2 cup apple cider

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

4 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

1.  Put 4 cups oats in large bowl.  Add almonds and coconut.

2.  In a small saucepan, combine apple cider, honey, and coconut oil.  Bring just to a boil.  Remove from heat and add almond extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3.  Add to oat mixture and combine thoroughly.

4.  Spread mixture evenly on jelly roll pan.  Bake in 250 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until crisp.  Check every 30 minutes stirring the granola to make sure it is browning evenly and does not burn.

5.  When the granola becomes golden brown and crisp, remove from oven and allow to cool.

6.  Add cranberries and apricots.


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3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 17, 2010 9:18 am

    The Granola sounds amazing…smells can be so powerful in bringing back childhood (and other memories), especially during the holidays. Thanks for sharing the recipes!

  2. November 17, 2010 12:30 pm

    I might have to try this one..it doesn’t use too much sweetner. Thanks!

  3. November 19, 2010 8:58 am

    I smell it! I smell it! Love the second recipe–can’t wait to try the first. And yes, even though they do use some sweeteners, as KR said, they aren’t in large amounts AND they are natural, not highly processed white sugar.

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