Back home, if you were out of place or happened to dress differently (eg: you wore Chaco sandals, thoroughly enjoyed an afternoon in REI, and cared about HFCS) you were called “granola.” Not hippie, not healthy, not even hipster, but rather the descriptive and culinary-associated granola. I rather like it. I live in a family full of fellow granolas, and you know what… we eat granola, we wear Chacos, and we are happy and willing to make a road trip to the nearest REI or Austin Canoe and Kayak. Speaking of kayaks, my poor Sunalei (that’s my kayak’s name…be jealous), hasn’t seen much action up here in the chilly tundra that is New England. Hope she remembers how to float come summertime.
With my granola family in mind, I mixed up a batch of skillet granola to snack on when my warm-weather Chacos yearn to be worn throughout the cold winter months ahead. But to be honest, with my fellow granola fiance in the house, I doubt the stuff will last beyond the weekend.
The great thing about granola is its flexibility. Need some extra protein…add some flax or chia seeds. Want a little more crunch…toss in an assortment of nuts, whatever you have on hand works fine. Looking for to satisfy your sweet tooth…you can add dried fruits, chocolate pieces or nibs, and even toasted coconut. Or make a big batch of granola base and let everyone add their own fixins.
makes 6 cups of granola
4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons honey (or agave)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons flax seeds or flax meal (I use the Trader Joe’s brand with dried blueberry flakes)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup dried cranberries
NB: You can substitute the sweeteners in this recipe to suit your own sweet tooth or your diet. I personally would cut down the sugar and add more honey.
In a large, deep skillet set to medium-low, melt the butter, honey, sugar, and vanilla until the sugar granules have completely dissolved. Mind the skillet so that the mixture doesn’t boil over and begin to reach candy stages.
Carefully pour in the oats and any nuts, seeds, or flax you choose to mix in. Slowly fold the oat mixture with a spatula until completely coated in the melted butter. Keep tossing until you can start to smell the mixture toasting. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting and continue to fold and toss the mix every so often. Depending on your stove, this can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes. Continue toasting in the skillet on low heat until the mixture is a deep golden brown and the stickiness of the butter sugar sauce is all but gone. Take a taste and if the crunch is to your liking, turn off the heat.
Spread the mix out on a rimmed cookie sheet to cool. Once cooled, you can add in dried fruits, chocolate pieces, or whatever else strikes your fancy. Store in ziptop bags or air tight containers. If you can’t finish your granola in 2 weeks time you can always freeze it for a later date.