Then I came home to little ole Canberra, and found this rather lovely boyfriend who insists that I can't possibly leave the house without having some sort of breakfast. If I refuse, he generally mixes something up for me - usually a tasty commercially-made muesli mixed up in a big dollop of vanilla, pot-set yoghurt. Let's just say if I knew such a speedy breakfast could be so tasty (and mixed up for me by a dishy young man, to boot), I might have folded on the breakfast issue earlier.
Which leads me to my first food challenge for this blog. Granola. It's yummy, crunchily delicious and, most unfortunately, usually comes with sultanas. Which I absolutely HATE. So that leaves us buying the only commercially available granola/muesli on the market which doesn't have any dried fruit in it, but which is rather expensive to have on a daily basis. Also, I actually do like dried fruit, I am just picky as to the variety I like in my muesli.
Solution: make your own, which a variety of my favourite food bloggers have repeatedly assured me in their posts is super-duper easy. And their publicity does not disappoint. It was indeed extremely easy and, hence, very satisfying. Other points in favour of making your own granola - it's far less expensive (about $10 for two week's worth, that's with one normal-sized eater and one ferocious man-sized eater in the house), it's incredibly delicious, it looks golden and crunchy and crispy, just like the pictures, and did I mention that it's easy?! You didn't even have to pre-heat the oven!
So, probably best to show rather than tell, yes? Firstly, let me credit chocolateandzucchini.com, whose basic granola recipe/formula I used, or rather adapted, which is exactly what she encourages folk to do (chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2010/11/basic_granola_formula.php). The formula gives you the flexibility to pick and choose your ingredients according to your tastes and what you just happened to have in the kitchen.
I started by combining the following basic dry ingredients in a big mixing bowl:
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels
- 1/2 cup flaked almonds
- 1/2 cup seasame seeds
- 1 cup shaved coconut
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar infused with vanilla bean (you can substitute plain old brown sugar, or, if you are really keen, add a vanilla bean to your brown sugar for about a week first)
Then, separately, I combined in a saucepan on a low heat:
- 6 tablespoons honey (or you can use maple syrup, and yes, I intend to at a future date)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used olive oil once, and peanut oil another time, and I prefer the peanut oil because of the nuttiness it gives the granola)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (essence is fine, but not as yummy)
Just mix it until it's a bit more liquid and less honey-gluggy (makes it easier to blend in with the granola). Don't let it boil or simmer. Heat quickly then get it off your stove.
Next step, combine the dry and wet ingredients and mix with a fork (yes, a fork really does work best) until it's all thoroughly combined and the oats are glossy with the lovely golden honey mixture. Mmmmm. Resist urge to taste now. You will be disappointed - but in 30 minutes it will indeed be ready to taste.
Next step, grease up two smallish baking trays or one big baking tray (must have a lip on the edge), and evenly spread out the oatty-nutty-honey deliciousness. Pop into an oven and turn on to 150C.
Every ten minutes or so bring them out of the oven and stir them, then rotate around the shelves they cook on. It wasn't until I did this that I realised how quickly things cooked on my bottom shelf compared to my top. No, really. Anyway, I ended up keeping mine in for a bit longer than 30 minutes, because I like a particularly dark, crispy muesli, but keep an eye on it and take it out when it looks good to you. It will need to cool for about ten minutes while it hardens up, but you can then break it up into the size of chunks you like and mix in any dried fruit. I added about a cup of chopped up dried apricots, but you could add sultanas *shudder*, currants, dried figs, dried mango - the dried fruit world is your oyster.
I then scooped my tasty, golden granola into an airtight container AND popped some of it into a few lovely little Christmas gift tins my friend Matt had recently given me. Wrapped in a white ribbon, this will make a lovely gift for some lucky person. That's if it survives in our house that long, because we do love our muesli.