Romancing the Granola

I kind of have a soft spot for Granola.  You see, I had just stuffed my mouth full of some yogurt and granola in the university dining room.  I had misjudged how much my mouth could handle and the extreme chewiness of the granola so I was trying desperately to gnaw my way through like a chipmunk….when I saw HIM.  He had hazel eyes and long eye lashes and was wearing a dark green sweater.   It’s funny the memories that come up with certain smells, sounds or foods.  As I was getting all the ingredients together for this granola for Onjoli and I to have with our yogurt or just as a cereal, I was grinning to myself and thinking about that first “meeting”.  The best part of that encounter was what happened a few minutes later.  I finally gulped down the granola and decided that I should make myself memorable.  Earlier that week I had learned the English word “saunter” (I was trying to improve my English by learning and using new words everyday).  I understood “saunter” to be sort of like a supermodel walk down the catwalk.  Not accurate, but hey, I was 17 years old.  In my head I planned to “saunter” past this hunk of manhood in my female glory so he’d be amazed and wonder “who was that gorgeous woman?”  I was so busy “sauntering” that I ran into one of the closed doors of the cafeteria.  I mean a serious face plant on the door.

The plan did work, he did notice me, just not exactly in the way I was planning.  Something must have worked, because that was 28 years ago.  Next week we will celebrate 26 years of marriage!

I was inspired by the awesome Chef Connie and her recipe for granola (she has a great blog!).  The granola turned out fantastic and I know that each time I take a bite, I’ll smile just a bit.  Do you have food that brings back a flood of memories?  I’d love to hear it!

Mix the dry ingredients, spices and brown sugar together
Heat together the applesauce, maple syrup, honey and oil
Add the heated “sauce” to the dry mixture
Add the heated “sauce” to the dry mixture
Spread on a cookie sheet to bake making sure to stir every 10 minutes to keep it evenly browned
Chop up the dried fruits
Add dried fruit to cooked granola while it’s still warm and mix well

Delicious Granola

5 cups rolled oats

1 cup pecans, rough chopped

1 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup flax seeds

1/2 cup raw peanuts, rough chopped

1 cup sunflower seeds, raw and unsalted

1/2 cup – 3/4 cup of any type of dried fruit you like—I used dates, apricots and dried cherries

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp sea or kosher salt

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup honey

2 tbsp oil

Mix all the nuts, oats and seeds together (reserve the dried fruit for later) in a large pan or big bowl.  Add the spices, brown sugar and salt.   In a saucepan mix the applesauce, honey, maple syrup and oil and heat all the way through.  Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well.  Spread the mixture evenly on a parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet in a pre-heated 350° oven.  Cook for 40-45 minutes but make sure and stir it every 10 minutes to brown it evenly.  Remove from oven and add in the dried fruits and mix well.  Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Banana Nut Bread

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to Banana Bread.  I hate the “wet”, “goobery” Banana breads, or those that are too dry or have no NUTS.  Seriously, why would you even eat Banana Bread without any nuts?  Well unless you’re allergic to nuts like my husband Grantley.  I usually make one loaf with nuts and one without.  It makes me sad to look at the Banana bread without nuts but its better than having my husband gasping for breath while I look for the Epi Pen to inject him with!  So, I came up with my own version.  The texture is just right, the topping just crunchy enough to make you want to keep eating it.  It’s truly delicious if I say so myself.  The key is to get the acid from the overripe Bananas balanced with the baking soda and then also adding baking powder for additional leavening.

Ingredients at a glance!

Mix the Bananas with baking soda, this will balance out the pH and make a much better bread, trust me!

Add all the ingredients except for flour and baking powder.  Slowly add in flour and baking powder mixture until well incorporated.

Hand stir in the pecans.

Divide batter into two loaf pans or you can use one pan, it will just take a bit longer to cook all the way through.  I prefer two pans since I can choose to add the nuts to one pan and leave it off the other one (provided I remembered not to add Pecans to the entire batter earlier!).  Sprinkle some brown sugar and pecans over the top of the batter before popping it into the oven.

Take out and cool in pan for about 5 minutes before taking out of the loaf pans and setting the bread on a cooling rack.  Freezes really well.

Here’s the recipe:

Banana Nut Bread


3 overripe Bananas

1 tsp baking Soda

1 Cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature

2 eggs

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup nuts (I prefer Pecans)

Some brown sugar and additional Pecans for sprinkling on the top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Add baking powder to flour, mix together and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl mix the Bananas with the baking soda.  Add all other ingredients except nuts and flour/baking powder mixture.  Mix with an electric mixer at medium speed until well blended.  Slowly add in flour until mixed.  Hand stir in pecans and pour into one loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray or divide batter into two loaf pans evenly.  Sprinkle top with brown sugar and pecans.  If using one pan, bake for 60 minutes.  If using 2 pans, bake for 45-50 minutes depending on oven or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 5 minutes before taking out and cooling on a cooling rack.