Friday, August 15, 2008

Granola, honey

I read the Williams-Sonoma catalog the way some people pore over Victoria's Secret--furtively, open-mouthed, panting slightly. I fold over pages; fantasize about a hot and juicy night with La Caja China Grill's battery-powered rotisserie. And I realize that, like life with a lingerie model, an electric raclette maker just might not live up to the fantasy.

But Williams-Sonoma has changed our lives for the better with their honey granola recipe, clipped from a catalog while visions of muesli-drenched housewifeliness danced in my head. It was easier than I thought, and yummier, and I've since adapted the recipe beyond all recognition, doubling the oats (it's still plenty sweet) and throwing in whatever combination of dried fruit and nuts we have in the fridge.

I eat a sprinkling of granola on top of plain oats and topped with a peach and rice milk for breakfast. But an unnatural affection (obsession?) with plain cold oats runs in my family, so I'd understand if you sprinkled it on top of yogurt and fruit or just ate it out of hand instead.

Honey Granola

5 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit and nuts, chopped if in large pieces
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) salted butter
1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 325. Put a piece of parchment paper on each of two cookie sheets. (You can skip the parchment, but it does make your life easier.)

Mix oats, sugar, spices, fruit, and nuts in a bowl. In the above granola, I used dried blueberries and golden raisins, sunflower seeds and almonds. Sesame seeds, chopped dried apricots, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries--they all work well. If I use regular raisins, I drop them in after cooking; they seem to get too crunchy and burnt-tasting in the oven.

Put butter and honey in a small saucepan, heat until melted, and mix. (Or combine in a microwave-safe bowl and nuke until melted.) Pour over oat mixture and stir.

Divide mixture between pans. Bake until golden and crunchy, about 25–30 minutes, switching pans and turning 180 degrees halfway through cooking. Stir if the granola on the edges starts to burn.

Cool and store in airtight containers.

Halve the recipe if you don't need granola on hand for regular eating for a week or two.

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