This March was in like a lion, out like a lamb, just as it’s supposed to be, right and good. It’s a slow-brewing Easter revelation: for the past several days, we’ve had our eye on the forecast and those double digits creeping up from 40s to 50s to 70s. We’ve been talking about the weather forecast in awed, hushed tones: it’s going to be 75°F by Thursday! Maybe 80°F on Friday!
We so want to be true believers in meteorology, just this once. We’re ready, after months of snow and ice and wind and mud, to prostrate ourselves at the altar of the Mighty Blue Screen of Meteorological Prophecy.
And today, we are believers. It’s 56°F right now. We see whispers on Facebook: our Chicago friends wax poetic in their status updates about their glorious weather, and we close our eyes and smile, knowing that what’s in Chicago today will be here tomorrow.
in the hippie spirit
And since I’m in this warm hippie spirit, I’ll offer up a foodstuff so linked to hippes that it became an adjective all its own. I’m not too granola myself, but having gone to school in Ann Arbor, I’ve mingled with the granola crowd.
And let me tell you, they’re on to something. This maple granola, from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains, is precisely what I’ve missed in every granola I’ve had until this point: fresh, balanced, and just crunchy enough. It doesn’t make large clusters of granola; rather, maple granola is more suited for the cereal bowl. I can’t tell you quite how it is as cereal though, because it became my habit to put a bit into a custard cup and spoon it, dry.
I was really happy with this maple granola and hey, it’s low-maintenance: stir it all together, a couple hours in the oven with 2 stirs, then store in an airtight container forever. Yay!
I made half this recipe for 8 cups. Remember, granola is infinitely customizable. Substitute your own favorite nuts and dried fruit. Go crazy. You have my permission. Speaking of permission, this recipe is reprinted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains…with permission!
Yield: 16 cups
Total time: 2½ hours
7 cups (24½ ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup (3 ounces) flaked coconut
1 cup (4 ounces) wheat germ
1 cup (5 ounces) almonds, sliced or broken up
1 cup (3¾ ounces) pecans or walnuts, chopped or broken up
1 cup (5 ounces) sunflower seeds, raw or toasted
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (11 ounces) maple syrup
¾ cup (5¼ ounces) vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup (5¼ ounces) golden raisins
1 cup (4 ounces) dried cranberries
1 cup (4½ ounces) chopped dried apricots
Preheat the oven to 250°F. Combine the oats, coconut, wheat germ, nuts, seeds and salt in a very large bowl. Mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Pour the syrup mixture over the dry mixture, stirring and tossing till everything is very well combined; its probably easiest to do this with your hands.
Spread the granola over 2 large baking sheets with rims. Your cleanup will be much easier if you line them with parchment paper.
Bake for 2 hours, stirring the mixture after 1 hour or so. Remove the pans from the oven and let cool completely. Transfer the granola to a large bowl and mix in the dried fruit.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Nutrition Information Per Serving: (1/2 CUP, 68g): 19g whole grains, 292 cal, 15g fat, 7g protein, 28g complex carbohydrates, 8g sugar, 5g dietary fiber, 47mg sodium, 344mg potassium, 70RE vitamin A, 1mg vitamin C, 2mg iron, 48mg calcium, 214mg phosphorus.