04 March 2010

More Breakfast: Homemade Granola

I used to make granola at home all the time. But that was back in the land of (relatively) cheap maple syrup, which is all I'd ever used as a sweetener. That's not to say you can't find maple syrup in Argentina, and it's even Canadian, but a small bottle costs as much as a perfectly-grilled filet mignon that's big enough to share, and a half-litre of Malbec.

But I've been stubborn, and while I don't recommend substituting Malbec for your maple syrup (except maybe on pancakes?), honey is a viable alternative. As for the other ingredients, Buenos Aires is rife with diet├ęticas, or natural food stores, they're often expensive, so last week I wandered into my new favourite place in Buenos Aires: Barrio Chino, or Chinatown. Chinatown here is really less of a neighbourhood and more of a block, but you can still find lots of what you'd expect to find in any Chinatown worth its salt: Myriad knicknacks, chicken feet, and delicious fried goodies. And Buenos Aires' Chinatown has a store called Casa China that is overflowing with imported sauces, teas, and, just in case you're making granola, piles of dried fruits and whole grains.

Homemade Granola
3 c old-fashioned rolled oats
1-2 c chopped dried fruit and/or nuts and/or other healthy goodies (like ground flax seeds, sesame seeds, or wheat germ)
1/3 c sweetener (maple syrup is my first choice, but honey works well too, and I'm sure agave nectar would also be delicious).

Toss the oats and any nuts you're including with the sweetener. Spread on a baking sheet or 2 and toast in the oven. The time will vary depending on your oven. Trivia: In the 5 apartments in which we've lived in Buenos Aires, only one has had temperature indication on the oven. I've been winging it, and so far, so good. Anyway, set yours to 350°F and give the oats/nuts a stir after 15 minutes so they toast evenly.

Once your oats are toasty, let them cool, then stir in your dried fruit (including any coconut. If you want to toast the coconut--toasted coconut is super-delicious, especially on waffles and oatmeal, but I digress--do it separately, as it has a tendency to burn and might even set your toaster oven on fire. Or so I've heard). I used dates, pears, and apricots, walnuts, and sunflower seeds, and about 1/3 c toasted wheat germ. I recommend adding a sprinkle of sea salt to boost the flavour.

Granola keeps for several weeks in an airtight container.

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