Winter Granola

When I get stressed, I have a tendency to retreat to my kitchen. When the world is spinning around me, I feel in control when I'm cooking. There's something nice and straightforward about measuring ingredients and chopping vegetables.

And last week was a doosey. My grandfather passed away last weekend, so my husband and I travelled up to northern Minnesota. Audio books saved us from insanely long car rides, but not from a nasty virus that left my husband quite sick for about a day. That toppled with an emergency visit to the vet and I feel like I've been living in any kitchen that will have me. (Don't worry, Oreo is on the mend!)

Our last box of CSA veggies for the season arrived just in time as fodder for my cooking frenzy.

This time of year, our box is filled with root veggies - and most of them looked a lot alike! Can you tell what is what?? :)

Starting from the top of the line: rutabaga, celeriac, beauty heart radish, black radish, chioggia beet, and scarlet turnip. These were so much fun to share with my family! I made Beets Gone Wild, which was beautiful with the candy cane striped chioggia beets! I also roasted most of the other root veggies and slathered them with Peanut Miso Velvet. Yum!

I also made a delicious stir fry with assorted veggies and a yummy and simple sauce. I have just a couple more tweaks to the sauce before I share it with you!

I have been meaning to make Lemon-Tahini Salad Dressing for a long time. I threw it together one evening and drizzled it over some kale, cabbage, and carrots. It was so delicious!! I may have found my new favorite salad dressing.

I did get to have some fun outside the kitchen this week too. Even with all the warm weather we've been having this winter, the lakes still have about 8 inches of ice on them! We took advantage of the warm weather, and had a great time playing on the lake at my in-law's house.

This sunset was absolutely stunning.

After all the cooking and skating I'd been doing all day, I made sure I had a good seat at the table! :) hehe! Don't worry, the rest of the table was filled with people in no time at all!

I don't make granola all that often any more, but now that I remember how easily it comes together, I might end up making it again soon.

First, gather all the dry stuff you want in your granola. This means your oats, flax, wheat germ, etc. in one bowl. All your nuts in another bowl. And all your dried fruit in a third bowl.

Then, gather your sweetener (which serves as your liquid) and any flavors you might want to add. Some people add oil to their granola too, but that isn't needed.

Mix it together really well to ensure that all the oats and things are evenly coated with the sweetener. Sometimes adding heat to your ingredients while you do this can help, especially if you are not using oil.

Bake it in a relatively cool oven until golden and let cool completely before stirring in the dried fruit. That's it. :) The version I have listed below is great for this time of year since it uses many flavors that are perfect for a cold winter night. Enjoy!

Winter Granola
Makes about 8 cups, 1 hour

6 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup shelled pistachios
1 cup raisins, dried cherries, dried chopped apricots 
3/4 cup honey (or maple syrup)
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons orange zest (2-3 oranges)
1 teaspoon almond extract
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two rimmed baking pans with tin foil.
  2. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add oats and flax. Let warm for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the almonds and pistachios; let warm for another 3 minutes.
  3. Mix the honey, salt, cinnamon, orange zest, and almond extract in a small bowl. Drizzle over the warmed oat mixture and stir very well. Remove from heat if the honey starts to sizzle in the pot. Spend time stirring well as this is important to ensure all the flavor is even throughout.
  4. Spread mixture in a thin layer over the two prepared pans. Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring and rotating the pans a couple of times to ensure even baking. Remove when oats are golden brown and crunchy. Try not to overcook. Let cool to room temperature. Stir in the dried fruit and store in airtight containers. 
Print this recipe. From How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman