Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Crunch! Munch!

I love homemade granola and so do my kids. The best part about making it at home is that you can use things you have on hand. I like to clean out my pantry and use up things that would otherwise be destined for the compost heap - like stale rice crisp cereal or cornflakes.

You can get some granola purists who insist that your ingredients should be the most healthy, natural and organic - but for me, thrift will normally win out.

In this recipe I used almonds that I bought at the store. In the past I've used pumpkin seeds, harvested from our jack-o-lanterns, I've even used walnuts that I collected out of my back yard. Sometimes I make my own cornflakes, other times, I buy cereal that I think will taste good. Normally I use honey and brown sugar with butter to make my sauce - but sometimes I'll throw in the last bit of maple syrup when it's not really enough for one persons pancakes.

Always though, rolled oats are a must.

Here's a standard recipe:

3 cups of rolled oats
1 cup of cereal - rice crisp cereal or cornflakes works best, but you can use the Cheerio type cereal also.
1 cup of nuts - whatever floats your boat.
1 cup of "dressing" - 1/2 cup of butter mixed with 1/2 cup brown sugar + honey, or similar product - but not corn syrup.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan and melt in the sugar. Add the honey. Mix in the dry ingredients to coat well.

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Spread your granola over a large cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Turn/mix, bake for 5 more minutes.

Stir it up a few times while it's cooling so that it doesn't harden up.

***You can make chewy granola bars by adding 1/2 cup of peanut butter to the mixture and pressing it into the pan. Bake it for 10 minutes, cut when cool.

***To make corn flakes - mix 1/2 cup of corn meal with 2 tbs. sugar and sprinkle into a large heavy bottom skillet. Use a spray bottle to mist water over the top enough to wet the corn meal through but not soak it. Cook over medium-high heat, not stirring, until the mixture cracks and begins to curl up. Take a spatula and run it underneath, break up your flakes and toast them in the pan.

***The easiest way to shell pepitas, or pumpkin seeds - toast them first in the oven, and the take a pair of scissors to cup up one side of the shell. Take a sharp, thin object (fingernail or thin knife) to lift up the shell and pop the seed out.

***If you or your neighbor have a walnut tree - you can eat the walnuts. Don't peel them until the husks have started to turn brown. Do use gloves to remove the husks or your hands will be stained for at least a week!

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