I do not own, and never have owned, a pair of Birkenstocks.

I figured it was about time.  Long past time, in fact.  It seems granola is one of the baby steps most people take on their way to eating healthier, local, sustainable, green, whatever.  And although I eat granola and yoghurt almost every day, either as breakfast or as a mid-morning snack, I haven't, up to now, actually made any.  As I'm almost out of store-bought granola, I figured now was as good a time as any.

And of course, you should know by now that I tend not to follow recipes.

What I do follow, mostly, is ratios.  If you know it's 8 parts oats, 4 parts add-ins, 1 part sweetener and 1 part oil, then your granola options increase dramatically - both in ingredients and in scale.  Much more freedom for experimentation than a recipe that tells you to the teaspoon what to add!

This is what I used, but really, feel free to change it :)

8 cups rolled oats
1 & 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 & 1/2 cups ground flax
1 cups raw sesame seeds
1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt (most definitely NOT Tablespoons, not that anyone would ever make that mistake.  Of course not.  But, if one did, one would be happy one used sea salt, and added it to the oil, and thus could strain most of it out before it dissolved.  Ahem.  Carry on, nothing to see here.)
1 c maple syrup (I used 3/4 c of regular, and 1/4 c of this most excellent dark local syrup)
1 c vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cinnamon (and not cumin, although, once again, no one would ever make that mistake, or be thankful that one actually looked at the label before adding.  It's a wonder that one is allowed in a kitchen most days.)
1 tablespoon vanilla

Mix the oats and other dry add-in in a large (really large) bowl.  Combine the salt, sweetener, oil and spices, bring to a boil, them pour over the oat mixture and stir well to combine.  Place on a parchment-lines baking sheet in a thin layer (I ended up doing this in three separate batches - don't try to bake it all in one go!), and bake in a 250 F oven for 20-25 minutes, stirring mid-way.

How do you tell when it's done?  Damned if I know.  If it smells burnt, it's over done, so you want to get it out of the over before that.  I took it out when it was dry-looking, and the oats, while still chewy, were more toasted-looking than the uncooked ones.  I'm sure you can under-cook granola, but I know you can over-cook it, and I'd rather have mine a bit chewy rather than a bit burnt.

Cool, store in an air-tight container, and depending on how much you made, and how fast you eat it, think about storing it in the fridge or freezer.

Oh, and after it's cooked, feel free to add dried fruit.  I didn't this time, since in the summer I often have fresh fruit to eat it with (like stewed rhubarb from the CSA basket, sweetened with more of that delicious dark maple syrup!).

So, how much did it cost me?

Rolled oats: ~$1.50 (I estimate I used ~3/4 of what I bought, so this is an estimate)
Wheat bran: ~$.20 (again, I didn't use all of it, but this stuff is ridiculously cheap!)
Ground flax: $0.61
Sesame seeds: ~$0.80 (ditto not using it all)
Maple syrup: ~$5.00, based on the price of a litre of local syrup.
Salt, oil and spices all from the pantry

So, a total of around $8.50 if you added in the pantry items.  Around here, a 750 g box of granola costs at least $5.00 ($0.67 per 100 g), and I made MUCH more than 750 g - closer to 1700 g ($0.50 per 100 g).  So it is a bit cheaper, but of course, that doesn't take into account my time or the energy for the oven.  However, I know what's in my granola, and it most definitely does NOT include those "puffed" rice bits most commercial granolas seem to have these days!  My granola also doesn't include nuts.  Nuts would increase the cost, obviously, but you could reduce the cost by using a mixture of sweeteners instead of straight maple syrup.  A combination of molasses and white sugar would be tasty and cheaper, and you could always add some maple syrup or honey for taste.

Granola with yoghurt and stewed local rhubarb sweetened with local maple syrup.

Will I do this again?  Of course!  It's incredibly easy, and quick, other than the baking time (which can be reduced by using more than one pan at a time!)  I love the adaptability of home-made granola as well - what you eat is limited only by your imagination, instead of what a company thinks you should eat.

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