One thing my current insane schedule is forcing upon me is uber-organization. When you have only teensy windows of time in which to, say, wash your underpants, you are going to use that time to do just that, instead of catching up on the critical developments on Real Housewives of Atlanta. (Since I'm wildly behind on that, I'm assuming they're still being psychotic and bitchy and yanking on each other's weaves. Feel free to inform me if this is not the case.)
Lately, I am a machine of efficiency. This is in many ways wildly satisfying for those of us who are overachievers to our very list-making cores, but I'm pretty sure at some point I'm going to have a psychotic breakdown or something. Not yet, though, and that's what counts!
An ongoing challenge for me in the daily busy-ness is breakfast. I am so very much NOT a morning person, and the idea of eating something immediately upon awaking is pretty stomach churning. While on days that I don't go to the gym this isn't a big problem, when I am faced with an ass-crack of dawn workout, I have got to eat SOMETHING before joining the alarmingly cheery ranks of exercise freaks on treadmills at 5:30 am. (By the way...who ARE these people? They are fucking CHEERY and BUBBLY and CHATTY. Before sunrise. When exercising. Thankfully, I just slap my iPod on and tune them out, but seriously...they're freaks of nature.) Anyway... Needless to say, I am most definitely not going to be cooking eggs or making toast at that hour, even if I could stomach the idea, and I draw a firm line at breakfast "foods" like Pop-Tarts and Eggos.
It finally dawned on me what the solution to my early morning calorie needs might be....granola. And not the boxed stuff at the grocery store, which I really dislike (why is it always full of raisins? Raisins are awful.), but homemade stuff, full of only things I actually like to eat. I've made it before a couple of times to pretty good success, so yesterday I cranked out a batch. It had been a while since I'd made any, and I'd forgotten how brainlessly easy it is. For very little effort, you're rewarded quite highly, which is one of my favorite ratios in culinary undertakings. It's pretty cheap to make, and you can vary the basic recipe to meet whatever your whimsy of the moment may be. Also, it makes great gifts for people, as it keeps for ever in a sealed bag in the fridge. The only "trick" is that once you put it in the oven, you really have to keep an eagle eye on it, and stir it frequently. The honey in the mixture means it can burn and/or stick pretty easily, and that is a quick way to go from granola to baking sheet full of burned oats and stuff. Also, every oven is different, so the times that worked well for me may be a little more or less for you, so just keep an eye on it. And keep your nose open, too...you can really smell when it starts to approach doneness, and that's when you need to be ready to haul it out.
While this makes a truly delicious breakfast with milk or yogurt (I love it with Greek vanilla or honey yogurt...so thick and creamy!), it also makes a pretty good late night snack with ice cream, too. Tweak this however you like...leave out the coconut, add or subtract different nuts and fruit, or add chocolate chunks...even add raisins, if you must. Amounts of fruit are merely suggestions...this isn't baking, so ratios don't matter. It's just a matter of personal preference.
So without further ado....
(adapted from Ina Garten)
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup sliced almonds
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
3/3 cup dried apricots, diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried banana chips, crumbled
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Toss the oats, coconut, and almonds together in a large bowl. Whisk together the oil and honey in a small bowl. Pour the liquids over the oat mixture and stir well until all the oats and nuts are well coated. Pour onto a large baking sheet. Bake, stirring often, until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown, about 30 minutes. (If you decide to double the quantity, it will take a few minutes longer.)
- Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring often. Add the dried fruit and whatever else you've chosen to tart it up with. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container. In a sealed bag in the fridge, it keeps pretty much forever.
Makes about 6 cups