I recently returned from a 6-day trip to Door County, Wisconsin. If you haven’t yet been there, you are really missing out. I started visiting there with my family 20 years ago, and not much has changed since that first year I went. It’s one of the few places in the US that has been untouched by big corporations and chain restaurants. Every institution you go to you feel like you’re part of the family — as in, the actual family that owns it — and they welcome you with warm smiles and sconnie accents. By the end of the trip you’re throwing around “Don’tcha know”s like you’ve been living there your whole life. It’s marvelous.
Usually there’s a big group of us that go, but this year it was just me, my dad, and my step mom. It made for some serious bonding time and a captive audience for my dad and the
corny hilarious things he says. For example, the three of us are biking on a beautiful trail. There are a lot of hills — despite my assumption that they no longer existed in the midwest — so we are getting tired. My dad finds himself on a relatively flat surface. “When there’s gravity, use it! That’s what I always say!” he states as he rides along beginning up a hill. He’s not pedaling. He’s not moving. “Guess there’s no gravity right here!” he says. “That’s what you always say, huh, dad?” I joke. “Well, I said it, and I believe it!” he responds with a proud smirk.
There are plenty more where that came from, but I’m sure you’re wondering when I’m going to start talking about this granola. Door County is known for their cherries so of course I had to pick up a bucket of fresh ones (score!) and nabbed a smaller bag of dried as well. The great thing about granola is that you can really put whatever you want into it, as long as the proportions are correct. You can substitute the almonds and sunflower seeds for any other nuts/seeds you prefer or happen to have. The honey and maple syrup could be substituted for agave nectar, molasses, all maple syrup, all honey, or any combo of the four. The coconut and millet puffs are optional. It’s really just a great way to use whatever you have on hand.
I made the same recipe a few days later but didn’t grind up the flax seeds, and the granola didn’t clump together into nice clusters like it usually does. Lesson learned: Don’t skip that step! It is very important that your mixture of fat (whether it be butter, oil, or a combination) and sugar (honey, molasses, agave nectar, or maple syrup) has something to cling on to when added to dry ingredients. Also, flax seeds can be hard to digest so grinding them up allows you to get all of the wonderous omega-3’s that they contain. This is especially important for all my vegetarian friends out there.
I also added a teaspoon of peanut butter to the last recipe and it helped with the clustering as well. I think next time I want to try with almond butter. Yum.
One last thing–this is also great as a topping for any fruit crumble. Usually I’d just halve the recipe, omit the millet puffs, and double the butter. Some lemon zest is always nice too.
Door County Cherry and Almond Granola
My very own recipe. Woot.
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup millet puffs (you can also use rice puffs)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/8 cup flax seeds, ground
1/4 c. sweetened coconut
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. all purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 pinch of salt
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted (if you only have salted, do not add additional pinch of salt)
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. maple syrup
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Prepare all dry ingredients. I had whole flax seeds so I ground them in my coffee grinder. It worked out very well, just make sure that if you do so that you clean it out well beforehand.
In a large bowl mix together all dry ingredients except for cherries. In a separate bowl whisk together all wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until evenly distributed.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour granola mixture onto the pan. Pat it down so it is evenly distributed and bake for 30 minutes or until browned, stirring every 10 minutes. All ovens are different so it’s best to just check every 10 minutes. It may need more time, but it burns very easily so make sure to watch it!
Once cooled completely, break apart and place it in an air tight container and add the cherries. At this point I usually just close the container and shake it a few times until the fruit is evenly distributed. Can keep for 3 weeks (although it usually doesn’t last that long!).