, , , , , , , , ,

I got a new job! I don’t talk too much about my work here; it’s generally not related to anything I do in the kitchen, and I am very much a believer in work-life balance and my job being done when I leave my desk. I was thinking you may have noticed that my posting slowed down a bit, both here and on my Facebook page, and I wanted to explain why. I spent a good amount of time in September job searching, and most of October wrapping up my last position and getting started in my new office. It was an exhausting process and I didn’t do or think about much else for about six weeks. So far I am very happy with my decision to make a move. It’s a big change: I no longer work at home with my dog in my lap. (The worst part– I miss her so much.) But…my commute is absolutely manageable and my new coworkers are a good bunch. After two weeks, I feel like I am going to learn a great deal and be challenged. What more could I want?

I have no plans to stop cook.can.read– I wouldn’t know how to quit! Being in the kitchen, working on new recipes and sharing them with you is my best creative outlet. I am so proud when I hear that my Apple Crumble Pie and Pork Sugo were made recently by two readers and turned out well for them. I love getting your feedback, questions and comments. Now that I am settling into a new routine, I will figure out a new plan and timetable for cooking and writing. Luckily, I have a few recipes lined up, just need to get them finalized and written up. I am going to thank you in advance for being patient and staying with me while I get settled.

One of the aspects I had to relearn about actually going to work is packing a lunch. How funny– but I have been ten steps from my kitchen for the past four years and didn’t ever think about it. For the past two weeks, I have been doing my regular meal planning with work-friendly leftovers in mind: stews like pork verde, baked chicken, and soup so far. The first week, I bought nuts, dried fruit and pepitas to stash in my desk, and yogurt for the refrigerator. Last weekend I made a batch of my favorite granola and had an epiphany– I could keep some of this at work! It’s perfect for a quick snack on its own and delicious as a yogurt topper. This particular granola, flavored with maple syrup and cinnamon and full of toasted coconut, pecans, dates and raisins, has just the right amount of flavor and sweetness to make my preferred plain yogurt a protein-rich, delicious snack. This recipe makes about a three week supply for me when I’m eating it daily.

Having a reliable granola recipe is a major win, in my opinion. I know exactly what’s in it and can customize for different moods, uses or snackers. I use coconut oil in place of canola sometimes and dried cranberries (or cherries, or blueberries) in place of raisins. No pecans on hand? Sub in almonds or walnuts, or a mix. Granola is fun to make and give away, and the holidays are just around the corner… I also love how cost-effective it is to make granola instead of buying it. You can buy large quantities of oatmeal and nuts (store those in the freezer so they last for a while) and find dried fruit on sale in the bulk section. I haven’t figured the exact savings of making versus buying, but I kind of want to– and will report back when I do.

Whether you see it as the perfect snack to make and bring to work or send to school with your kids, or a way to jazz up your breakfast, give this granola recipe a try.

My favorite granola.

My Favorite Granola

  • 3 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 c. whole pecans
  • 1/2 c. canola oil (or coconut oil)
  • 1/2 c. pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 c. golden raisins (or a similar dried fruit)
  • 1/2 c. chopped pitted dates

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, coconut flakes, pecans, oil, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. Turn the mixture out onto your baking sheet and spread it into an even layer.

Bake the granola for one hour at 250 degrees, then turn up the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 15 mins. If you like to have chunks of stuck-together granola, don’t stir, as that breaks up the chunks. After 15 mins., check to see if the oats and coconut are golden brown and the oats feel dry when touched. If the mixture is still pale and wet, cook for another 5-7 mins. and check again. Continue adding 5-7 min. blocks of cooking time until you like the color and texture.*

Cool the granola on the pan for about 30 mins. Scatter the raisins and dates over the top and then transfer to a well-sealed container for storage. I have a big glass jar that works very well, but any container will do as long as it seals out moisture.

The granola will keep for about a month in a dark, cool cupboard.

*I tend to go for 1 hr at 250 degrees and then 30 mins. at 350 degrees, because I like my granola very toasted, almost burnt on the edges. The picture above represents my cooking preference. When I am baking it for other people, I stop after 15 mins. at 350 degrees.