For a few weeks last summer, I volunteered to work on the vineyards at the incredible Castello di Potentino in Tuscany (if you want to learn a little more about that experience, you can read my old blog post about it).
Now, let’s say there are eight of you living in close quarters together. Let’s say that dinner usually involves a heck of a lot of wine. Let’s say that you’ve got to get up every morning just as the sun’s beginning to rise, slather yourself in cold sunscreen, and get ready for five hours of manual labour. And — hypothetically of course — let’s say that the eight of you share one small bathroom and en equally teeny kitchen. Are you going to make pancakes? No. Are you going to make eggs? Hell, no. But are you perfectly capable of spooning some yoghurt over a bowl of homemade granola? Yes. Because granola is for champions.
You might also want an inspiring view:
An some coffee never hurts either:
But the real life-saver, honestly, is the granola. It was my extremely lovely co-volunteer, Natalie, who first suggested that we start making our very own. She sought out a recipe that would suit the particular needs and palates of our little industrious household — not too sugary, protein-packed, and with lots of crunch. And that’s how the Castello di Potentino Not Yer Granny’s Granola was born.
This granola is wonderfully nutty and crisp, just barely sweet. The recipe is ridiculously simple to make, and it’ll be done in less time than it takes you to do a load of laundry (or even in less time than it takes you to procrastinate on an essay). Natalie and I used to make it every other day during the early evening, while the others were snoozing or showering. It’s a proven, scientific fact that this granola tastes better if you’re making it in good company. Also, this granola lends itself easily to variations and substitutions; since I’ve been home, I’ve made almost a dozen incarnations of it to suit my mood and/or the pantry situation. I’ve added some of my favourite versions after the main recipe.
Not Yer Granny’s Granola
Adapted from David Lebovitz
Makes about 2 pounds (1kg) of granola — enough to feed eight hungry volunteers for two days.
- 5 cups (450g) multi-grain flakes or old-fashioned rolled oats
- 3 cups (375g) almonds, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup (125g) sunflower seeds
- 3/4 cup (100g) untoasted sesame seeds (or lightly ground flax seeds)
- 1/4 cup (60g) packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (or 1/2 tsp regular salt)
- 3/4 cup (180g) unsweetened applesauce (or another unsweetened fruit puree)
- 1/3 cup (100g) rice syrup
- 1/4 cup (80g) honey
- 2 tablespoons sunflower, safflower, or canola oil
- 1 cup raisins (optional)
Preheat the oven to 300F (150C).
1. In a very large bowl, mix together the flaked grains or oats, almonds, sunflower and sesame seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.
2. In a small saucepan, warm the fruit puree with the rice syrup, honey, and oil.
3. Mix the fruit mixture into the dry ingredients until thoroughly dispersed, then divide and spread the mixture evenly on two baking sheets. (If you have ones with sides, use them.)
4. Bake the granola for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until the granola is deep golden brown.
5. Remove from oven, then cool completely. Mix in raisins.
Store the granola in a large, airtight container. It will keep for up to one month.
For Banana Bread Granola: substitute banana puree for the applesauce, walnuts for the almonds, chopped dates for the raisins, and add 1 cup of toasted, flaked coconut.
For Pumpkin Pie Granola: add 1/2 tsp of nutmeg, and substitute pumpkin puree for the applesauce, pecans for the almonds, pepitas for the sunflower seeds, dark maple syrup for the honey, and dried cranberries for the raisins.
For Dessert-For-Breakfast Granola: increase the sugar to 2/3 of a cup, sub in 1 1/2c. pistachios for the almonds, switch one cup of chocolate chips for the raisins, and toss in whatever the heck else you might want to kick up the decadence level. Serve, obviously, with ice cream.
(Also: Natalie is a good friend and a queen of super excellent pie baking.I f you like either me, pie, or both even a little, teeny bit, you should buy one of her beautifully illustrated booklets, which will teach you everything you need to know about making the best damn pies you’ve ever had. Seriously.)
Until next time,