Are you a fan of granola? Have you ever made it? I certainly hadn’t until yesterday!
Real Food has been a challenge for us over at Tanglewood Farm simply because we are not, by nature, folks who cook. We prepare food, if it’s easy, but intensive cooking and baking is certainly beyond my attention span, and my husband is content with simple fare (he certainly does more cooking than I do!) I’m the one with the dirt-caked fingernails, spoiling my dinner by munching freshly plucked peppers and tomatoes. While I know these constitute as real food, they’re certainly not a well rounded diet and this time of year it’s nearly impossible to find fresh produce worth your while in Michigan.
I wanted to start the Real Food Challenge off right, and while I was visiting my local farmers market last week I picked up a quart of local organic yogurt. Of course what better to go with yogurt? Granola! I scampered home, poured some yogurt, reached for my granola and it suddenly occurred to me that I wasn’t familiar with the nutritional information for the name-brand granola we keep in the house. A quick glance to the back of the box became a more intense, squinty eyed study of several impossible-to-pronounce words that are certainly not real food.
If you know me at all, you know that I am prone to bouts of “I can make that – and I will – right now!” so within an hour I was researching granola recipes and techniques. I’d considered making granola in the past but I always assumed it was totally beyond me. I was wrong.
It’s really quite simple: take some thick-rolled oats, some nuts and seeds, spices (like cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom) a healthy oil, a sweetener and mix by hand. Spread thickly onto a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Then bake (I had to use a higher rack in my oven to prevent burning) at 275-300º for roughly 40-50 minutes, stirring carefully every ten minutes to keep it from burning. It’s definitely a process that demands experimentation, and it seems to be abstract and free form for the most part.
I didn’t measure a single dry ingredient. I approximated between four and five cups of oats, added pepitas and hazelnuts, as well as flaxseed, cinnamon, nutmeg and some seasalt. To this I added a half cup of (homemade) maple syrup and a half cup of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and tossed.
Something I did discover is that you should know how heat affects your nuts and seeds. Hazelnuts and flaxseeds seem to be prone to burning, and so the batch that was on a lower rack in the oven has a very-close-to-burnt taste. Lucky for me I caught it literally minutes from charring and destroying half of my granola.
This has been an amazingly inspirational experience for me. It seems like a small feat for a seasoned real foodie, but coming from a background of boxed/tin-canned food this makes my long-term goals seem so much more attainable.
Of course, being as obsessive with taking things to the next level as I am, yesterday evening was spent reading up on how to grow and process my own rolled oats and raisins so that I can grow things myself! Right. Okay. Maybe I should stick to experimenting with the granola recipes for now…
Have you ever made granola? What is your favorite recipe/tip?
Tanglewood Farms: A Quick Introduction
After following Not Dabbling in Normal for more than a year now, it was such a pleasant surprise to receive an email last week, asking if I’d like to post regularly here.
Normal is definitely not a word I’ve ever used to describe myself. I grew up with a mother who was bent on landscaping every inch of our large yard. When she gardened, it was wild and natural, and always large scale. Her use of this wild and natural aesthetic, as well as her ability to craft beautiful things, was definitely a huge inspiration for me as I matured. I knew from a young age that I wanted to forge my own way in life.
At this point, I’m honestly not sure if I consider myself a small-scale farmer or a large scale gardener. I’m really something in between. My husband and I are currently renting a small cottage in South Eastern Michigan, and have a sort of makeshift farm utilizing an old milking barn and surrounding fields. In the past few years of living here my love for edible gardening has grown exponentially, as has my need to become more self sustainable. You might call it an obsession. Since moving into our rented bit of paradise, I have adopted herding dogs, found kittens in the snow, raised ducks and brought home our very first breeding ewes to start a small Icelandic sheep flock. I am a professional horse trainer and riding instructor, and I tend to be pretty darned verbose. You can find me over at Tanglewood Farm Blog where I often write about my latest harebrained ideas in gardening, carpentry, animal husbandry and more.