The quest for the perfect homemade granola. The quest has been long, fraught with frustration and thwarted by infants and fussy adults.
What have I learned?
Leave the fruit out. I know! SACRILEGE. We still have dried fruit available. I like cranberries, blueberries, cherries and golden raisins. DH likes brown raisins. The kids are hit and miss. Some are in my camp, some are in DH's and one doesn't like any dried fruit whatsoever.
Most of us like clusters.
None of us like even barely dark brown granola. Absolutely no scorching allowed.
Nuts are good, especially cashews. Nothing too exotic. Pepitas are still on the fence as to whether they are allowed or not.
Coconut is hit and miss in the family.
Sesame seeds and flax seed get caught in the teeth and therefore not allowed.
Low sugar granola is so-so.
I had tried so many recipes that my DH actually said, "Just buy it. I don't like the homemade stuff." This is quite possibly the only time in our entire marriage he has said my homemade stuff was inferior to store bought. And years ago when he said this I was actually a little hurt. I just started buying granola. I didn't eat it. I didn't like it. Stale raisins and banana chips. ewwww. DH and the kiddos were happy so I just bought granola.
Yesterday, I embarked on the granola quest again. I was halfway through a bag of a 25 pounds of oatmeal. I put as much into the 3 1/2 gallon bucket that I could squeeze in and still had 20 cups or so. An empty-ish bag plus 20 cups of oatmeal is prime toddler mess making material (because it is light enough she can lift it) so I started with oatmeal for breakfast (with enough for oatmeal pancakes for dinner). I made a double batch of DH's favorite cookies-oatmeal raisin. I still had lots of oatmeal.
It was time to start the granola quest again. I hit the internet. Allrecipes.com had a few 5 stars but they didn't look right for our fussy granola eater. I googled dehydrator granola recipes. I had read somewhere you can use your dehydrator to "bake" the granola thus preventing the scorch (it works and you don't have to stir every 15 minutes). I had 7 different granola recipe tabs and then I stumbled across this. I was intrigued. Any recipe that has a LipLady in it has to be tried. And the writer had to have something good 'cause she has a 7 year quest for the perfect granola. I could relate. I was going to make it.
#6 and I made up a batch, and then it became a double batch because she added another cup of brown sugar when I stepped away from the bowl. We stirred and chopped and chatted in toddler-ese. She was a happy camper because she got to do all the stirring and didn't have to share with #5. (Note to those cooking with toddlers-always use a bowl that is at least twice a big as you need, no spills because the bowl has enough room for the sloshes and they don't jump out of the bowl.) I loaded up the cookie sheets and dehydrator rack. I knew from the baking smell we were on to something. And it was good.
DH came through the kitchen and sampled. "Not bad," he said as he chomped. He kept on sampling all day long. Typical understatement, "not bad" as he is filling up on granola every time he passes through the kitchen.
I found him last night at 10 or so eating out of all 4 quart jars so that the level in each jar would be the same. Like I wouldn't notice? funny man
So if you are looking for a good clustery granola, try this one! You can add the fruit but we just have it so everyone can add what they like.
I made a double batch and it is quickly disappearing. I had a bowl with milk this morning and the clusters stay crunchy to the bottom of the bowl. I think I will end up making a quadruple batch at the beginning of the month and each person gets their own quart jar of granola for the month. This is inspired by dear MIL who would buy each child their own gallon of milk each week and they could chug-a-lug from their own gallon if they wanted (at least that is what DH told me but I just cannot see my MIL walking through her kitchen watching a child chug-a-lugging and not say anything).
I might have to give DH two quarts. The levels in the jars are lower this morning.
UPDATED: I followed the recipe exactly except for the spices. DH thinks cardamom tastes like a dirty sock so I used 1/8 t. cardamom and 1/2 t. allspice instead of the cardamom and mace (didn't have any mace).