The nice thing about writing about food is that it totally takes the subject line pressure off. It's so straightforward; no clever hook needed. Granola.
I used to make a very satisfactory granola years ago, based on a recipe, or really, more a formula, from Cooks Illustrated. My friend Sharon liked it so much that I lent her my copy, and it accidentally wound up in her recycling bin. (This just indicates how old that recipe was; Can you imagine loosing a recipe now to a recycling mishap?) I tried finding it for a while, but no luck. A few years ago, Mark Bittman published a granola recipe in his New York Times column which seemed very similar to my old Cooks Illustrated standard. I clipped it, and dutifully reproduced it; I found it...meh. Then I discovered Bear Naked, which is really pretty good. But I got bored with it after a while, and besides, even when it goes on sale, store-bought granola is still pretty expensive.
But a few weeks, or maybe it was months ago by now, I came across a recipe for a Macadamia Maple Granola on Chocolate and Zucchini. I don't care for macadamia nuts --too unctuous-- but this simplicity of this recipe appealed to me. Other than some lime zest, which I imagine would pair nicely with the nuts, it was just oats, fat, sweetener. No spices, no dried fruit. So I gave it a try. I was prepared to add the lime zest, sans macadamia, but when I tasted it prior to baking, I decided it wasn't necessary. This granola was good. Very good. I've scarcely been without a batch since I started making it. By now, it's sufficiently unrecognizable from its inspiration that I can proudly call it my own.
Sharon likes this one as well. And I don't have to worry about her recycling the recipe.
The original formula called for 1 cup of oats and 2/3 cup nuts, and specified that the recipe could be halved. Doubled, or tripled is more like it. Granola is pretty adaptable; I find that as long as I have roughly 3 cups of grains to 4 tablespoons fat, it works out well. You can use all oats, or some combination of oats with whatever grain you like--flax seed (which I tried, and hated), barley, etc. I like the combination of almonds and pecans, but of course, you can use your favorites. I originally used 4 tablespoons of butter, but have since switched to half butter, half canola oil. The end result is equally delicious, though, I think, a bit crunchier. If your oven has a convection setting, I find it helpful to use here, if I remember to turn it on; it helps to dry the granola out nicely. I don't lower the heat by 25 degrees, however, as is customary when baking with convection.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
12 tablespoons maple syrup
a sprinkling of vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup wheat germ
2/3 cup slivered almonds
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small saucepan over medium heat warm the butter and oil with the maple syrup until butter just melts. Remove from heat, add the vanilla.
Combine the oats, coconut, wheat germ, nuts and salt. Pour the maple syrup mixture over the grains, stir to combine, and bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.