Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A wholesome snack

As I sat in my living room this morning, eating breakfast and pondering whether to do the responsible thing and go to class or give in to the more tempting option of sitting in the sun and enjoying the beautiful spring day, I tuned in to one of my favorite cooking shows, the Barefoot Contessa. The Contessa (also known as Ina Garten) was doing something she does often on her show: cooking for her beloved (and honestly adorable) husband, Jeffrey. This time, Ina was making Jeffrey breakfast. Though she joked around by saying that she would be serving dry toast and coffee, she in fact produced a lavish spread of mini brioche loaves, homemade strawberry jam, peach bellinis, and parfaits of yogurt, fresh fruit and granola. Enter my inspiration. The granola looked so tasty and easy, and I realized that I had never before made it--though I couldn't imagine why.

Fast forward to the evening. Walking back from dinner, I stopped at the on-campus grocery and made my way home armed with rolled oats, shredded coconut, slivered almonds and honey, the ingredients which I would utilize (along with dried fruit and some cinnamon) in my take on Ina's granola. Here's the mixture pre-baking, already looking mighty appetizing:

20 minutes later, a toasty, golden brown and heavenly-smelling medley emerged from the oven. I added some chopped dried cherries and golden raisins to the granola, let it cool, and stored it away in a glass jar:

Given how fast and easy it was to make this granola (and how wonderfully its honeyed aroma perfumed the house as it baked), I felt sorry that I had never done it before. And I urge you to make your own granola, too. Even though you can buy a million varieties of it at the store that feature exciting ingredients like chocolate and dried mango and the like, this homemade version tastes more honest, simple, down-home. That's probably because the list of ingredients comes to a grand total of eight items, whereas commercial granola is chock-full of additives and sweeteners. I prefer this version, and I think my friends agree with me: when they came over to watch Top Chef earlier tonight, they greedily spooned up the dessert of granola-topped vanilla ice cream that I presented:

How indulgent! And speaking of indulgence, you might be wondering whether I gave into it this morning, as well. I can't really answer that--but let's just say my skin's a bit more tan than it was yesterday.

Cinnamon-Almond Granola
Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa

4 cups rolled oats
2 cups slivered almonds
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup dried cherries, chopped
3/4 cup golden raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 325°.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, almonds, coconut, and cinnamon. Add the oil and honey and mix well, making sure the mixture is well-coated.
3. Spread the mixture evenly on a baking sheet (you'll probably need to use more than one) and bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The granola is done when it is dark golden brown and fragrant. After removing it from the oven, allow the granola to cool completely, stirring it occasionally.
4. When granola is cool, added the dried fruit and store in an airtight container (it will keep for about a month--if it lasts that long).

1 comment:

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