Most people that I grew up with would never have imagined that I would be eating granola for breakfast, much less searching for a better version. In fact, they would probably laugh.
I grew up on real breakfast – sausage patties cooked up crispy, toast with tablespoons of Country Crock, scrambled eggs with Country Crock and heaps of salt and pepper, black scalded coffee, slabs of country ham… ah, childhood. (No grits, thanks.) And that’s not to say that I don’t still love all that artery-clogging, heart attack-inducing food; I do, wholeheartedly and without reservation. It’s just not feasible to cook any or all of that on most mornings. I savor every moment of sleep I can get, and sleep > hearty breakfast. Breakfast nowadays has to be something I can pack up in a bag and take with me to eat in the early confines of work. That limits my choices. So, granola.
I have spent time searching and searching throughout for a basic, decent granola recipe. I’m picky about it, too – I don’t want something full of too many nuts, or fruits, or wheat germ, or flaxseed, or any of that hoodie-hoo complicated expensive ‘whole foods’ movement stuff. The latter is generally what nixes the recipe of the moment – yes, I know I can leave it all out if I want, but I don’t. Those flaxseed wheat germ recipes usually call for ‘orange blossom honey’ or ‘kosher salt,’ and I just can’t abide by that. Too much free love for me.
So I made my first granola experiment last night before karate. And it was an experiment, indeed. I need to find the recipe I printed to use – it’s somewhere on the Internet. It read simply, with all the basic needs I thought one would want for an interminably modifiable granola recipe. I expected it to be life-changing, magic from the pan.
It wasn’t. Not really.
Some things didn’t work right. I worked with what I had – pecans, some sliced almonds, some sunflower seeds, and rolled oats I’d bought specifically for the purpose of making granola. (It’s too hot to eat oatmeal right now anyway.) I mixed the dry up together, then the wet (honey and canola). Maybe I should’ve used vegetable; who knows. I thought initially on mixing it that the ‘syrup’ didn’t look right. Too liquid. Not proper. Would it cover the dry mix properly? I shook these thoughts out of my head and forged ahead, mixing wet and dry until incorporated. Now, the recipe called for 30 minutes of baking at ~350°F (it listed the temp in °C, so I had to convert), but it only took about 14 minutes in my oven, which is not proper in any way and does whatever the hell it damn well pleases. The granola came out a deep, lovely brown, but it was still soft and in no way crunchy enough to suit me. But I had to go to karate, so I stuck the pan back in the still-warm oven to dry while I was being taught hip- and shoulder throws by example.
When I came home, it was dry, crunchy – I was excited. I tasted a bit and was disappointed. It was bland – toasty, but without good flavor. I’d expected a hint of sweetness, but the roasted quality overwhelmed anything the honey might have delivered. (Should’ve added more honey, I thought to myself.) I put it back in the oven for the night and decided that maybe it would be better in the morning with added craisins and some brown sugar.
I had it for breakfast this morning, and to be honest, my first bite was not encouraging. It tasted dark. It turned my milk brown. My second bite was better, with craisins in that spoonful, and I managed to become accustomed to the taste by the end of the bowl. However, it still needs salvaging in a bad way. I’m thinking that I may sprinkle it with brown sugar and a squeeze more honey, stick it back in the oven and let it warm a little more. Hopefully that will save it, and I’ll eat it with yogurt instead of milk. But to be honest, I’m not sure that I want to make the recipe again, not after I get done with this batch.
I’m going to move on to another recipe and see what happens next time. We’ll see – I’ll only be making a half-batch anyway. No use in wasting all my oats at once.