Today’s post comes to us courtesy of our friend Sarah Barthelow at Little House Pantry. Enjoy!
I spent my summers in high school working at the local bakery in my hometown. The logo emblazoned on our blue aprons read ‘Holly B’s Buns Are Best,’ and we were known for our thick, doughy cinnamon rolls with lots of butter and raisins. I worked the counter for a few years and eventually graduated to a night baker, arriving in the afternoons to bake double chocolate cookies, cappuccino bars, Katherine Hepburn brownies and other goodies that didn’t need to be eaten fresh out of the oven.
Granola was probably my least favorite thing we made. It wasn’t that the recipe was a bad one, I just thought granola tasted a little more like gravel than a good breakfast. Why eat piles of oats when there are Gruyère croissants and peach Danishes to be had? It took me a while (and an aging metabolism) to come around, but now I eat granola almost every morning with yogurt, milk and whatever fruit is in season. It’s delicious.
There are some decent store-bought granolas out there, but too often the first ingredient is sugar. I like mine not too sweet, ready to be loaded up with fresh fruit or sweetened with just a bit of honey. The good varieties that you can get from a bakery or a local producer often tend toward the bank-breaking end of a food budget. So I’m going to let you in on a little secret: making your own granola is one of the easiest baking projects there is. Toss your favorite ingredients on a pan, pour some oil over them, stick the pan in the oven and in half an hour — voilà! Granola!
My recipe has evolved from the granola we used to make at the bakery. I like the combination of coconut and almond, but really this recipe is customizable to your preferences. Add some cinnamon and try dried apples instead of raisins. Add sunflower seeds or hazelnuts. Replace the coconut oil with olive oil (if you’re not a coconut person). My dad likes peanuts in his (which I think is weird). To each their own (granola).
If you are looking for an easy holiday gift, fill mason jars with homemade granola and top with a decorative label and bit of string. (I use a cut-up old grocery bag for a label and tie some twine around mine). You could even make a special blend customized to each family member to wow them with your thoughtful gift-giving skills. A homemade gift beats another pair of socks any day in my book.
Thanks, Sarah! So are you giving homemade gifts this year? What do you like to bake/cook/preserve/infuse? And if you’re looking for cute string, packaging and jars for these homemade gifts, look no further!