Ah, granola. My favorite food. What better embodiment of natural sweetness and wholesomeness is there than this oat-y snack? Sometimes I feel like I should be a horse; I love oats so much. I grew up eating this granola -- my parents started making it when I was in junior high school, and I've been having it for breakfast quite a bit since then. It was always a treat when they sent me some granola as a college student and when I volunteered in Nicaragua for a year. Eventually I learned how to make it and was surprised at how easy it is.
At first I started out sprinkling the granola on top of our local generic brand of Chex cereal (called "Crispy Hexagons" from Market Basket). Then I graduated to a bowl of just granola with some soy milk. Sometimes I add half of a banana. You don't need as big of a bowl as most other cereals since the fiber and protein fills you up quickly. It keeps you full longer than other cereals too. This granola is chewy, as opposed to crunchy, and it's good with other cereals, on its own, or sprinkled on top of yogurt. I just made up a little snack of (about 1/8 cup of each) strawberries, banana, mango, low-fat plain yogurt and some granola, and it is oh, so healthy and tasty!
The original recipe came from a community cookbook in Houghton, NY, which is where I went to college and where my dad grew up. We've changed the recipe quite a bit, so I think we can safely call it our own. It's so delicious: oats, honey, nuts, wheat germ, and dried fruit. You can use whichever nuts and dried fruit you like, but I love the original recipe. This recipe fills up two big oat canisters, which is about four pounds. Granola stays good for weeks as long as you store it in an airtight container in a cool place. You can also freeze it for up to a month.
Smith Family Granola Recipe:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
5 1/4 cups (1 big canister) rolled oats (not quick oats)
3 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ*
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups honey
2 cups mixed nuts (chop larger nuts, such as Brazil nuts, into smaller pieces)
1 1/2 cup peanuts
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 cup or more raisins
Grease a very large cooking dish (I use a turkey roaster). Mix together everything except for the dried fruit. Be sure to pull up the sticky honey and oil that may have fallen to the bottom of the pan, and mix, mix, mix. It takes a bit of muscle to really mix it well. This is an important step, because otherwise the non-oiled oats will burn.
Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and mix again, taking care to scrap the sides and bottom of the pan.
Bake for 20 minutes longer. Remove from oven and stir in raisins and dried cranberries. Storage hint: Once the granola has cooled, you can store half of it in the same oats canister you used.
*This recipe calls for toasted wheat germ. The toasted wheat germ I use is Kerschmier's, which is $5 (kind of pricey, I know). But you can also find untoasted wheat germ at Whole Foods and other places for just over $2 a pound. If you use untoasted wheat germ, don't add it until the last 10 minutes of baking time, because otherwise it may burn.