Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Granola

Unless otherwise noted, all materials on this blog are (c) 2009 by Madeleine Vedel

A recent trip to the doctor's informed me that my boys are a bit low on iron. So, knowing that adding a considerable amount of red meat to their diet is not for the moment in the picture (not with my current budget), I've re-worked my home- made granola to have more nuts, and protein filled whole grains. It's just one element in their diet that reassures me, alongside my multi-grain bread, the good fresh eggs and fresh milk from the farm.

When I decided to make granola for our bed and breakfast in Arles, I went to my Gourmet magazine cookbook that my mother offered me for Christmas a few years' back to see what they might suggest. I've taken that recipe and run with it, altering it to the ingredients I'm able to get here in quantity and quality, and considerably reducing the fat and sugar -- by preference for texture and flavor. The cereal quickly became a favorite at the b&b, and had I not been already a bit overwhelmed with small children at my feet, handling the tours, schmoozing and such (or more mercantile) I could have packaged and sold it.

The basic recipe is as follows, though feel free to add and subtract as you wish where possible. This recipe makes the quantity I need to get through one to two weeks -- depending on hungry au pairs, or my own midnight binges:

12 cups mixed organic flakes (oat, rice, quinoa, spelt, barley...)
1 cup rapadura raw sugar (dark brown and caramel/vanilla flavored it adds most of the flavor to the recipe)
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup flax seeds (best if ground)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup hazelnuts
1 1/2 cups apple juice or cider
1 cup sunflower oil (cold pressed).

All these ingredients are organic, or as many as possible.

In a big bowl, mix all the dry ingredients, and then add the wet till thoroughly moistened. Then, on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, spread out a thin layer of the cereal and bake till nicely browned and crunchy -- In my convection oven I'm able to bake them at 300F/150C in about 25 minutes. I keep the temperature low, and the air flowing so that they'll dry quicker.

When done, I take the sheets out and dump them on a large and clean surface to cool before putting into jars. At this point I can add slivers of dried apricots, sliced candied ginger, raisins, dried cranberries or cherries (if I have them, they're oh so hard to find in France!! So I try to bring a secret stash home from Michigan every summer).

I then jar the cereal and put it in the cupboard. With yogurt, milk, soy milk, rice milk, as a nibbly with chocolate chips mid-afternoon when I just can't stand sitting and translating yet another word... A handful after a particularly strenuous yoga session... And yes, the kids eat it too.

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