Monday, September 21, 2009

Making Granola Before the Snow Flies

Light granola with coconut, almonds and sunflower seeds

It's fall, which means two things: first, granola; and second, time to get ready for ski season.

It's that time of year. Not by Midwestern standards, of course, but at 10,000 feet (where my mind often wanders) the leaves are golden and flying. And snow is in the forecast later in the week.

Seasons in Telluride are short - well, three of them anyway. Basically there's a long, white, glorious winter. It begins with the first real snow, often in late October, and ends when the ski area closes, usually the first week in April. Spring (beings the day after the ski area closes and ends May 31) is muddy, brown and, to be honest, smelly. Summer (June) is lovely and green with cool nights and some warm days. Not much of what you might call heat, more like heat's distant cousin from the left coast. June is the driest month of the year with the least precipitation. July and August is Monsoon Season. I don't care to speak about that. And fall, when the meadows and Aspen leaves all go from green to amber, is so very lovely and totally fleeting, almost always eclipsed by an early snowfall.

Which is why, come fall, you start outfitting your kids' ski gear. Skis can last a couple of years but bindings need to be adjusted to accommodate bigger boots. Helmets get checked and stickered. (There is NOTHING cooler than a well decorated helmet - I saw a five year old at a Wisconsin ski area last winter sporting a helmet covered in stickers from western ski resorts, but pole position was given to a podunk Midwestern ski hill).

While many western ski resorts open on Thanksgiving, a mere two months away, we've got at least until mid-January before there's enough snow to ski locally. Kids' feet can grow a lot in a season, so I'm holding myself back from outfitting them too soon.

Somehow, making granola helps. Filling the house with the comforting sweet and nutty smell is one of fall's best scents. Today I'm going to make a recipe my sister passed along from Martha Stewart. The first recipe below shows what I added to make it a little heartier. And following THAT is the granola I've been making for nearly 15 years, based on the recipe we used at Cafe Nola.

Light Granola
Print recipe only here

Makes 4 cups
* 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
* 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
* 1/2 cup sliced almonds
* 2 tablespoons flax meal (ground flax seeds)
* 2 tablespoons wheat germ
* 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 2 tablespoons honey
* 1 cup dried blueberries, currants, sour cherries or dried fruit of your choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine oats, coconut, and almonds. In a small bowl, stir together oil and honey. Pour over oat mixture and toss. Bake, tossing occasionally, until lightly toasted, 16 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

Place mixture in a large bowl and stir in dried fruit. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Hearty Granola
Print recipe only here

Makes 6 cups

Preheat oven to 350

Toss together in a large mixing bowl:
4 cups oats
1/2 cup dry milk (Whole Foods offers some organic options)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon
pinch clove
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds

Combine in a small saucepan over medium heat:
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1 t vanilla extract

Bring the liquids to a brief boil, then immediately pour over the oats. Stir together well. Spread on a baking sheet and bake, turning and shaking/stirring every so often, about 25 minutes, or until nicely golden.


Bryan said...

Thank you for painting a picture of "seasonal shifts" alongside of great recipes. It actually sets the mood quite a bit.

It would appear that you are a writer first, chef/cook second.

Keep up the great posts.


Jen said...

It snowed in Frisco yesterday!