Granola : Not too sweet, not too oily

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granola-banner.jpgThe suddenly very cold temperatures this week in Denver made me look for a reason to turn on the oven. For a good long while. Granola, the perfect excuse.

The temperature I use is low, 300 degrees F, so your energy costs will be small. As far as your physical energy expended, allow a couple hours at home to get the job done, but the actual hands-on time in granola making is 15 minutes. With that effort, you can easily produce 4 pounds of cereal.

Buy regular rolled oats in bulk for about $1.60/lb (organic available at WholeFoods for $1.80). This is the bulk of your cost for the finished cereal, so you can see that home-made granola is an inexpensive way to eat well at breakfast. The other expense is a good quality honey. At Denver Urban Homesteading & Farmers Market on 2nd and Santa Fe I was able to buy a quart jar of honey from a local producer that is excellent, and didn't cost more than $10.

granola-colorado-honey.jpgSpread oats onto cookie sheets, in a layer that isn't more than a flake or two deep.  Put as many trays as you can into the oven when it reaches 300 degrees, set the buzzer for 20 minutes and let them toast. Keep your nose alert for the smell of toasted oats.

granola-finished.jpgWhen most of the oats on any tray have changed from white to a nice tan color, slide the warm oats from the tray into a big bowl. Add 1 Tbs. of good honey and mix while warm. Put another tray into the oven to toast if you have more raw oats. And continue the process: adding the finished trays of oats to the bowl, followed by another dollop of honey and a give it a gentle mix. The time for toasting each tray will be different depending on its location in the oven, so you will need to keep you eyes and nose alert. Reset the buzzer to remind yourself.

When I'm about halfway through the trays, I might add about 1/4 tsp. of a very good salt, dried fruit and toasted nuts.  Toasting nuts brings out the unique flavor of each variety, and it's so easy to just keep toasting things while you're in the toasting business.

Eventually, every tray will make its way into your bowl and every flake will have had some contact with a little bit of honey. Let the cereal cool, but stir occasionally so the granola doesn't clump into one big mass.

If you want vanilla-flavored granola, add a fresh vanilla bean to the storage jar. Fresh fruit, yogurt, other nuts and dried fruit can be added when you serve the cereal.  

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