Yes, Spring is in the air, yet there is still plenty of snow here. It is impossible to live on a farm and not give a seasonal weather update. The weather pretty well runs the show. This winter has been far easier and shorter than the last three winters. However, today I have been snowed in and my pipes have frozen three times this month and tonight is going to be another 20 below zero night. So I am bringing my firewood in this morning so that it warms up before lighting it. There is plenty of snow and more is on its way. Everyone really appreciates the longer days. We are almost out of wood and the no-wood-splitting days are soon to be here. That chore will be replaced with the usual farm chores to get your land ready for planting. This is the time to discover if your rototiller will start up again, just as your snow blower dies. I will put that worry off until next winter; that is, if it stops snowing. As the snow melts, the changes on your farmhouse and property are slowly revealed. Today I saw the tom turkeys displaying, one sure sign spring is around the corner. Or maybe the turkeys are a little too eager.
During the colder months I have seem to crave baked goods made with oats. I have perfected chewy oatmeal, dried cranberry and white chocolate cookies. I keep unbaked cookies in my freezer in case unexpected guests arrive. Here on the farm I often host weekend guests and granola is high on their pantry list. Who doesn’t love granola in some form or another? This winter I went in search of a perfect farmhouse granola to offer my guests. Now I am on to granola in my test kitchen.
I love having granola in my pantry. I love to sprinkle it on my cereal or morning yogurt. It is delicious on ice cream or over warm fruit. Some people like to sprinkle granola over their raw pancake batter for crunchy pancakes. I also use it when baking as a streusel for muffins, cakes and pies. I also love handfuls right out of the Mason jar. It is great to take camping; granola is perfect high-energy snack when hiking or biking. Granola is also a perfect work time or school lunch box snack. I have it beside me when I am on road trips; its complex flavours and textures help keep me awake!
What I love most about making my “home made” granola is that I control the ingredients. I like the idea of customizing what I eat. You can add extra sweetness or reduce the sweetness depending on how much maple syrup or honey you use. Change the spices by using nutmeg, cloves, cardamom or even pumpkin pie spice. Most of the retail granola is too sweet and doesn't have enough of the good stuff- fruits and nuts. I prefer the large flake oats for texture. Some people like to add wheat germ or bran to their granola.
Granola is so expensive to buy, so why not make your own and have it on hand? It is very easy to make after a quick visit to your bulk barn to gather all the ingredients. That is really the most time consuming part of the recipe.
This Farmhouse Granola recipe is just a starting point. Feel free to omit or substitute and of the fruits and or nuts. Have fun while exploring those enormous bins filled to the rim with an enormous variety. Here is your chance to make your granola your way.
• Granola's quality is as good as the ingredients you use. Make sure you buy your oatmeal, fruits and nuts where you know they will be fresh. I suggest the local bulk barn for freshness and value.
• Stay in the kitchen when the granola is in the oven and stir it often. Remember that most nuts are high in fat and can quickly burn.
• Make sure the granola is totally cool before adding the diced or sliced fruit. This is especially important if you are going to add any type of chocolate to the granola.
Overview: The Farmhouse Granola comes together in these easy steps:
• Mix together all of your nuts with the oats
• In a separate bowl blend your liquid flavouring agents
• Stir together and Bake until golden, stirring often
• Cool completely
• Add dried fruit and or chocolate pieces
• Store in a cool dry container
Georgian Bay Farmhouse Granola
Prep time: 10 minutes; Bake time: 30 minutes; Yield: 10-12 cups
6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds, chopped or sliced
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
1 cup raw, unsalted pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds
1/3-cup peanut, sunflower or coconut oil
1/2-cup pure maple syrup
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-teaspoon pure vanilla or almond extract
Grated zest of 1 orange
1-teaspoon sea or kosher salt
8 -16 ounces (2-1/2 cup) of dried fruit, such as cherries, apricots, strawberries, apples, pineapple, mango cranberries, dates
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut or banana chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a roasting pan or 2 large, heavy baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, pecans or walnuts, pepitas, or sunflower seeds.
In another large bowl. Whisk oil, maple syrup, honey, cinnamon, vanilla or almond extract, orange zest and salt in a medium bowl until blended. Measure the oil first, and then use the residue in the cup to grease the measuring cups for the maple syrup and honey. Pour over the oat mixture and toss to coat. Spread the mixture in the prepared pans.
Bake, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly and evenly browned around 20- 30 minutes. Do not leave the granola unattended during this time. It can overcook very easily if not stirred regularly.
When it is lightly and evenly browned remove from oven and cool completely in the pan on a rack. When cool transfer the granola to a bowl and toss with the dried fruit and coconut.
Serving Suggestions: Serve with yogurt or milk and drizzle with honey. Top with fresh fruit.
Sweet variation: After the granola is thoroughly cooled add chocolate covered raisins or chopped chocolate or yogurt covered almonds, white, dark or milk chocolate chips or chunks or even chocolate smarties or MnM’s. The possibilities are endless.
Farmhouse Granola makes a great hostess gift if you ever visiting overnight. Mason jars filled with granola and tied with a holiday ribbon are a great gift around the holidays.