Sunday, 18 December 2011

Homemade Granola

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... Well, now that the tree is up and decorated. It was less festive yesterday while we drove round trying to find a tree that didn’t cost a million pounds, a week before Christmas, when lots of places had sold out. In the end we had to take a blind gamble and get one that didn’t cost the earth but was already wrapped up in netting. This meant it was difficult to assess symmetry, bushiness, density and general beauty...

On arriving home and cutting open the netting a huge branch just fell straight off, followed by more needles than there were on the tree. The claims of it being a tree that didn't drop couldn’t have been further from the truth. It wasn't a pretty tree, there was no denying it, as it stood wonky in the window of the living room. So at that point in time, just after the hoover blocked full of needles and gave up, I can't say I felt particularly Christmassy. We left the house for Boozer's Christmas drinks, leaving the tree standing bare, uneven, lopsided and crumpled, alone in a dark house.

But I can't blame the tree, so today he is decorated and pretty, still wonky and looking a bit like he's come from the rejects pile, but glittering with lights, rosy red baubles, little tinkling bells and glass drops, and everything suddenly seems a little bit more festive.

I have been making Christmas presents for people this year. I can't say too much yet as it's not time to hand many of them over and I don't want to ruin the surprise entirely... but this is one of the most successful so far... I'm not much of a breakfast person, yes at the weekends, but in the week I am usually just a bit late and running out the door rather than towards the kitchen. But this Granola has possibly changed all that. It's delicious and I'm not even a cereal person, until now...

I looked up quite a few different recipes and tweaked and mixed and matched until I settled on this combination. In a big bowl add about 500ml of rolled oats, or 2 cups. These amounts will make 2 or 3 large jars. Add a handful of roughly chopped pecans, a handful of roughly chopped blanched almonds and a handful of sunflower seeds. Then add 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and a large pinch of table salt and mix everything together.

In a small pan add 135ml of honey and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and melt them until they are liquid and combined. Add this to the oat mixture and stir thoroughly until everything is totally coated with the honey mixture.

Pour everything into a big baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake in the oven at 150°C for half an hour. Give it a stir once or twice so it bakes evenly. The smell that fills the house while it is slowly baking is delicious, warm and toasty. When it is ready take it out and leave it to cool completely before putting it into a jar, you will need to stir it a few times so it doesn’t all stick together in one solid sheet.

Finally add a large handful of raisins and stir them through. You can use lots of combinations, different fruit, different nuts; hazelnuts, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, apricots, dates, cherries... Find the combination that suits you best, I'll be sticking with this one for the time being as it is so delicious. It is sweet and toasty with a hint of salt, crunchy nuts, soft raisins, just lovely. I haven't even had it with milk or yoghurt yet as it is so good just on its own. Hopefully the people who receive their little jars over Christmas will think so too...

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Happy cooking! Let me know if you make any of my recipes, send a picture, and let me know any of your own recipes and tips! Anna x