Note from the Sudden Realization Department, received just a few days ago as I was sipping my morning coffee, listening to NPR and the pelting rain, and chopping almonds to make homemade granola: Is it really possible that Elspeth hasn't shared this recipe here? We've been making it since before she was born; our girls were raised on this granola. I took a quick look at the Recipe Archive and then phoned Wellfleet. Suspicions confirmed. "Do it, Mom!" said Elspeth.
In a world full of unhealthy granola recipes, this one is a gem. Have you looked at other granola recipes? Most have a staggering amount of sugar, and many are also high in saturated fats. They might be fine for sprinkling atop some fruit and yogurt once in a while, but they aren't anything you should be eating by the bowlful every day. I want to make granola that's actually good for us, that we can eat every day, and I think this one qualifies.
We're lucky to be able to make our granola with Maine-grown, organic oats, available both at our local natural foods store and online. They come from northernmost Maine. "Oats thrive in Maine's cool climate and are a traditional rotation crop for Aroostook County potatoes," say Jim and Megan Gerritsen of Wood Prairie Farm. I love the fact that I'm not only getting a great product from them but that I'm also supporting a Maine farm.
I make this recipe every few weeks, and it's never exactly the same. I vary the sweetener—it might be brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, or molasses, depending on my mood. I also vary the nuts. Recently I've been chopping up whole almonds, which I love. It looks like Sally does too: that's what was in the batch I brought when we visited a few weeks ago.
If you don't like the coconut called for here, just swap in more oats, or use something entirely different. Our friend Chuck uses All Bran cereal or sunflower seeds, and another friend uses flax seed. However you make it, I hope you like it. Packaged it in a nice Mason jar or other container, this also makes a nice house gift or present.
I always double this recipe, and I bake it in two pans. I used to triple the recipe, which was great for efficiency—both my own and the oven's—but the granola doesn't get as dry that way. It took me more years than it should have to discover that the secret to making great granola is getting it nice and dry.
5 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup oat bran or wheat germ
1 cup unsweetened coconut (I use organic)
1 to 2 cups chopped walnuts—or other nuts
1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar—or other sweetener (I use 1/4 cup and find that's plenty)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon maple flavor (or almond flavor, if you use almonds for the nuts)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup raisins (optional)
In a large baking pan, mix the dry ingredients together and stir well (your hands will work best for this). In a large measuring cup, mix together the olive oil, sweetener if it is liquid (i.e., honey, maple syrup, or molasses), flavoring, and vanilla, and then drizzle this over the dry ingredients. Stir everything again, so it is well mixed. If you're doubling the recipe, pour half of the granola into another baking pan, so you have a thinner layer that will dry out more thoroughly as it bakes. Bake at 225° F. for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. If you're using the raisins, stir them in about halfway through the baking; they tend to burn if added sooner.
Cool the granola completely and then put it in tins, glass containers, or zip-lock bags. It will keep in the freezer for months.