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I come from a family with hippie tendencies, particularly when it comes to food. During my childhood, the only bread in our fridge was the kind that had at least eight different kinds of grains. I didn’t know that rice could be anything other than brown for my first decade. And for years, I assumed that everyone made granola on a weekly basis.
Every Sunday afternoon, my mom would pull out her rimmed cookie sheets, a big jar of oats and jug of honey to make that week’s batch. Her recipe came from a friend who, for a time, had a granola business. It was of the kitchen-sink variety and included flaked coconut, wheat germ and sesame seeds. While it was quite delicious, it was built for nutrition more than to appeal to my six-year-old taste buds.
As it turns out, this apple hasn’t fallen very far from her tree. Once I got out on my own, it wasn’t long before I fell into the same Sunday afternoon granola habit that I grew up with. My kitchen feels quite naked without a jar of granola on the counter. I eat it with a bit of milk for breakfast, munch on a handful when the late-afternoon munchies strike and dash a few clusters over Greek yogurt for that late-evening something sweet.
When it comes to recipes, I’ve been all over the map. Some weeks, I bake up the version from my childhood. Other times, I opt for a cocoa hazelnut variety that I dreamed up when I wanted something a bit sweeter. Right now, I’m entirely smitten with Ina Garten’s recipe for Cherry, Almond and Cinnamon Granola. Cherries and almonds are natural partners and I love how the cinnamon plays so well with both of them. It’s perfect for The Weekender.
Before you start toasting your oats, here are a few things you should know:
- The recipe instructs you to add your cherries before baking. Unless they’re incredibly moist, I recommend stirring them in after the granola is fully toasted. That way, your fruit stays tender.
- Make sure to use a rimmed baking sheet for your granola. You ask for a world of frustration otherwise.
- Always let your granola cool completely before you funnel it into a jar or plastic bag. It will get soggy much more quickly if you seal it while it’s still warm.
- Homemade granola doesn’t last as long as store-bought cereals. However, if you store it in an airtight container, you should be able to get 10 to 14 days from it (presuming it isn’t eaten up long before then).
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, also called Food in Jars, will be published by Running Press in spring 2012.