I was not satisfied with my old granola recipe, or any of the other versions attempted lately, and decided to do a bit more good old-fashioned research, online that is. What finally called out to me from the Google stream was the funny Traveler's Lunchbox story of Melissa's search for the perfect cereal. A must read. After giving her recipe a try, I found it to be truly as fantastic as claimed, the best granola.you will ever eat. Ever. Totally worth all of her experimenting to find that secret formula. The "Lip Lady's" secret recipe is a secret no more. Nice crunchy clusters full of flavor, goodness.
It is pretty hard to tell from a photo how good a particular granola is, but I want to encourage you to give Melissa's version a go. Having tried umpteen varieties of this popular breakfast food myself , you can believe me when I say, at the risk of being repetitive, it is the cook-off champion.
Of course, I couldn't resist tinkering after the first batch got used up. It calls for all quick oats, half of which are ground, so in place of a portion of the nuts and seeds, I figured a cup of my favorite Scotch Blend of whole grains would be a nice addition. Too true, it was. If you can get that blend, it's a good alternative to all oats.
Also, since Bob dislikes little bitty seeds mixed in, and the sharp edges of pumpkin seeds getting stuck in his teeth, a few other alterations were made, but that part of the mix is totally up to your own taste. It doesn't mess with the basic formula. Whatever nuts, seeds, dried fruit you have on hand, are all good. I especially liked the flavor of hazel nuts in my last batch, combined with peanuts, almonds and walnuts. You may want to double this recipe, as I did. It will go fast.
BEST EVER GRANOLA
Adapted from The Traveler's Lunchbox
1 lb. (450g) quick oats
1-2 cups (750ml/about 300g) coarsely chopped raw nuts and/or seeds
1/2 cup Scotch blend or regular oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup, packed (200g) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (115g/1 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup (80ml) water
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
dried fruits of your choice
Preheat the oven to 300F/150C. In a food processor, coffee grinder or blender, grind half the quick oats to a fine powder. In a large bowl, combine the whole oats, ground oats, nuts, seeds and spices. In a microwave-safe bowl (or in a saucepan over medium heat), combine the brown sugar, butter and water and heat just until the butter has melted and the mixture is bubbly. Stir the mixture together until smooth, then stir in the salt and vanilla. Pour this mixture over the oats and nuts, stirring well to coat. It should be uniformly moist - stir in another tablespoon or two of water if it isn't. Let stand for about ten minutes.
Spread the mixture out on a large baking sheet, separating it into irregular clumps with your fingers, and allowing space between the clumps for the hot air to circulate. Slide into the middle of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and stir, gently breaking up the mixture into small-to-medium sized clumps. Return to the oven and bake another 15 minutes or so before stirring again. Repeat the bake-and-stir until the mixture is a uniform golden brown and completely dry; this usually takes 1-1 1/2 hours. Cool completely, then stir in any dried fruit you want to use.
Store in a covered container at room temperature. Serve with milk and or plain kefir and fresh fruit as desired.