DIY Kitchen: pumpkin granola
Mornings, I’m my own brand of drug-sniffing dog, singularly and passionately seeking a quiet corner of the kitchen in which to drink coffee and read the newspaper. I’d come to the table with those horse eye-flap blinders if I could get away with it.
The kids don’t understand this. Col climbs in my bathrobed lap and taps my neck like he’s checking my thyroid. Rose has circular conversations that start and end with herself but are directed at me. “Mama, when will you draw me a maze? Oh yeah, when you’re done reading the paper.”
“Read us the Miscellaneous For Free!” (in the classifieds) they plead, which always leads to Rose lobbying for one of the kittens offered, which always leads to me reminding her of the neglected cat we already have. “Read us the teenager!” they beg, which is what they call the comic strip, Zits, that pits a techno-teenager against his square parents, which we all love. (Recently I asked Dan who he identifies with more, Jeremy or his parents. “Parents,” he admitted defeatedly).
Is our food processor getting sick of pumpkins? This was a batch of pumpkin tahini cookies, which Rose said tasted like hummus.
Also, the clock we installed in the kids’ room for a visual of what 6:00 am looks like (so no one gets up earlier) appears to be backfiring. Last night Col appeared apparition-like, by my bed at 4:45 am. “I woke up and the clock said 4,” he reported bewilderedly, “and then the next time I woke up it said 3, and now it says 4 again.”
Which is to say, mornings occur early around here. What does this have to do with granola? Granola is the closest I’ll get to horse-blinders; the shortest distance to newspaper/coffee refuge. I make 2-3 gallons at a time (one gallon is in the root cellar, after we pickled it and put a bird on it) and it takes the decision making (and cooking) out of the morning equation. Plus, it’s basically a bowl of protein and good fats. The kids eat it with either milk or yogurt (yogurt recipe here).
Afternoons are a different story. While the chickens roam, ruining our yard, we play ball. And while some of us have some athletic abilities, most of us don’t actually know anything about sports. Which means that we were playing baseball with a warped tennis racket until Dan caught on.
Pumpkin Granola Recipe – makes about 1 gallon
Does 1 gallon seem like a lot? It doesn’t seem worth it to get out so many cookie sheets if you’re not going big. Also, I’m trying to selectively breed out food pickiness and its cousin: the need for great variety. (When Dan is home for mornings, he makes cinnamon rolls, sausage scrambles and other delectables, otherwise: hello granola!).
It should be noted that this is a very flexible recipe. Mine tends to be heavy on the nuts because they make the granola more interesting. I also like using honey and molasses as my sweeteners because the liquid coats the dry granola, which makes the clumps, which is the whole point of granola. The butter gives the granola a lovely rich flavor. Of course you can omit the pumpkin entirely.
7 cups oats (if you do a quick blend of 1/2 of the oats on pulse – but not so fine as flour, you’ll get more coveted clumps)
1 cup honey
1 cup molasses
1 1/2 sticks butter
5 cups assorted crushed nuts and seeds (I do 1 cup each of walnuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas, sesame seeds, whole flax seeds
2 cups raisins (add these after baking or they’ll burn into little charred husks)
2 cups shredded coconut
2 cups pureed pumpkin
2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
Melt butter, add honey and molasses until all warmly blended together. Assemble dry ingredients in 2 big pots or bowls (no raisins yet). Kids are ideal helpers for this. Let them use their clean hands to get everything integrated. Add wet ingredients: honey/butter/molasses/pumpkin puree, and stir very well.
Lay moistened ingredients about 1/2 inch thick on cookie sheets and/or casserole pans. Bake at 300F for 60 minutes if containing pumpkin, 40 minutes without pumpkin, or until a nice, roasty brown color. You’ll need to stir up the granola once every 10 minutes or so, and break up any really big pumpkiny clumps, because they won’t dry out enough to store for a long time.
Oats for the apocalypse. Incidentally, oats are a starred food in the book, the 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, on account of the beta-glucan (immune system!), avenanthramide (anti-inflammatory!), low glycemic load (easy on the pancreas!).
This part—the mixing of the dry ingredients—makes the kids feel like they have access to wondrous, grown up things (like what? a multitude of sesame seeds?)
Before oats are added, with a kid’s mixey hand.
Everything added and ready for baking pans.
Makes a good bedtime snack, in bed.
Linking up with Simple Lives Thursday