December 13, 2010 § 1 Comment
For over a month now, almost every morning, I’ve been tirelessly pouring myself breakfast out of a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. I’ve grown to love the tinkling sound of the crispy-toasted oats falling into the bowl, along with seeds, crushed nuts and the occasional raisin, the latter a sweet, chewy treasure that I ration out, one in each bite. Then, towards the end of the bowl, when there is still plenty of granola left, but only a last, lone raisin, I play a game in delaying gratification, where I eat the excess granola first, and then compose the last, shining bite with the right ratio of granola to raisin.
And while I only had a gallon-sized bag, I actually made two gallons with the help of S., who is the proud owner of the other bag. We went crazy one weekend, spent nearly a week’s worth of a paycheck on vast quantities of good ingredients and nearly two hours in front of the little oven at my parents’ house, toasting the honey-sticky concoction just right, taking it out every few minutes to turn it before sticking it back in.
The recipe came from my friend Robert S. of Vermont, joyful cook and crackerjack Scrabble player, whose granola used to arrive in the mail for two of the years I lived in New York. Many a winter morning were spent sitting on a Brooklyn kitchen floor, eating the filling and fulfilling granola out of shabby-chic ceramic mugs with broken handles. When I moved back to Bangkok, it was the other thing, in addition to good bagels, that I missed the most and took upon myself to recreate. My hope is that when Robert retires, he’ll incorporate himself—too bad The Green Mountain Gringo is already taken—and supply his unparalleled, healthy granola to food cooperatives around the world, and supermarkets whose shelves sag with boxes of miserable industrial cereals full of sugar and corn syrup and nary a fresh ingredient to be found.
Which is why I’ll refrain from posting the recipe here. I know, lame, right? But here’s the good news: it’s not that hard. All it is is an exercise in ratios, and most of the ratios are to taste anyway. Besides, Robert’s recipe is adapted to personal preferences from a little 1970s cookbook Recipes for a Small Planet.
How to Cook Homemade Granola
The Most Important Ratio
Because the mixture of rolled oats and other goodies must be sticky and clumpy without being gooey, the ratio of honey/oil to oats is pretty important. Here’s a suggestion:
1 cup for every 8 cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup for every 8 cups of rolled oats.
1. Combine loads of rolled oats with your choice of nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
2. If the nuts/seeds are pre-salted, adjust your recipe accordingly. You need very little salt.
3. If the nuts/seeds are pre-toasted, obviously, don’t toast them with the rolled oats. Add them in later when cool.
4. The dried fruit doesn’t need to be toasted either. Add it at the end when cool.
5. Coarsely chop/crush your nuts.
6. Toast your mixture in a thin layer on cookie sheets at 350.
7. Be sure to remove the cookie sheets after ten minutes and turn the oats over, returning them to the oven for smaller intervals until you reach the desired darkness. Watch them very closely or they’ll burn.