Monday, March 23, 2009
Hippie Food: Double Ginger Granola with Cranberries & Cocoa Nibs
You probably wouldn't be able to tell from my appearance. After all, these days I have a professional wardrobe. However, in the days of yore, my closet contained a very nice collection of peasant skirts, which I wore with t-shirts (in those days, I worked selling books at an independent bookstore). I'm also a bit of an activist by nature. I believe that most great movements begin as grassroots endeavors, and I firmly believe in the power of people to incite real change in the world. I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty. And I take the opportunity, whenever I can, to vote with my $$$ by supporting local farmers and local businesses.
There are other signs.
I'd rather have a string of beads than a set of diamond studs any day.
I secretly long for a tie-dyed VW bug.
I heart me a nice pair of Birkenstocks.
And, I love me some delicious, crunchy granola.
My mother used to make granola when I was a kid. She had the concept right, for the most part, but she tended to bake the raisins right along with the oatmeal, nuts, and honey... so they always had this sort of burnt taste. It wasn't until I grew up and went out on my own that I realized the raisins in granola weren't supposed to be crunchy.
Turns out, my mother wasn't alone, granola actually took a seriously long time to catch on, even among the health food crowd. I'm not sure we can chalk that up to a history of burnt raisins; but, some of the initial concepts for this crunchy snack were pretty unappealing.
Legend has it that we can credit the beginnings of granola to Dr. Graham, health enthusiast and inventor of graham flour/graham crackers. Dr. Graham preached that people should shun meat, alcohol, tobacco, stimulants (coffee, tea) and white bread. He didn't make or advocate granola... but he did inspire the production of GRANULA, sheets of graham crackers baked, rebaked, and broken up into little pieces. *YUM* Apparently, after the delicious granula concept failed to take off, Dr. Kellogg and Dr. Post subsequently invent their own variations in the late 1800's --the former resulting in the granola name, and the latter giving birth to modern-day Grape Nuts cereal.
When the term "granola" was revived by the modern health food movement in the 1960's, it became the lovely hippie food we know today.
As for me, I've been making granola for a number of years. Usually, I've gone with a pretty standard recipe -- oatmeal, some sort of nuts, cinnamon, sweetener (usually maple syrup or honey; sometimes brown sugar); and dried fruit. This recipe follows the mold, only I experimented a bit with the flavorings. This variety uses a bit of fresh ginger, some vanilla powder, and just a touch of cinnamon. It also benefits from some chopped up crystallized ginger -- which adds a bit of zing -- and dried cranberries, which keep the granola from getting too sweet. Cocoa nibs add a bit of chocolatey interest -- and a nutty crunch.
We usually eat our granola for breakfast with a bit of vanilla kefir poured over the top. It's the best cold cereal I've ever had (maybe next to Grape Nuts :)), and it sticks to my ribs just enough that I'm not ravenous before noon.
Granola keeps well. You can store double ginger granola for up to a month in an airtight container at room temperature. It keeps for 6 months in the freezer.
In addition to breakfast food, granola is also nice sprinkled over fruit, yogurt, or icecream. This lovely gingery delicacy is especially nice as a topping for baked peaches.
Double Ginger Granola with Cranberries & Cocoa Nibs
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