Maple, Fruit and Nut Granola

I cherish my mornings at home. One of the many pleasures of being my own boss is that I can decide how I want to start my day. There are subtle differences to each day, like whether I get myself onto the elliptical for a little workout.  The one thing that remains the same is that I take Maki out to let her do her doos. As soon as I get back, I pour myself a mug of coffee and prepare something to nibble on.  I go through phases with my breakfasts. It can be a taco with a fried egg and sliced avocado, or some scrambled eggs with sauteed kale.  I'm also not opposed to just reaching for a container of leftovers. Cold veggie fried rice? Perfect!  Right now, however, I'm into granola. Yes, I know it'd be so much easier to just grab a box at the grocery store, but I'd be missing something so wonderful if I did that. Like a lot of foods, I feel very strongly about what's in my granola. There should be a variety of textures going on. I don't want it too sweet.

This particular granola recipe was inspired by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque's fabulous book Brown Eggs and Jam Jars. And the timing couldn't have been better. You see, Eric and I recently tapped our maple tree out back. He hooked up a spigot that was fitted with a tube that ran into a five gallon water jug. Within a day and a half, the thing was full. Since I'm the one who works from home (when I'm not out on a shoot), I was in charge of boiling the sap down into syrup. The process was not nearly as complicated as I thought it'd be, though the four hours it took (using three large pots) made me question how often we needed to do this. The result was wonderful, a light amber colored syrup with a natural sweetness that one only really finds in this or honey. I should also note that there's a section in Aimée's book on harvesting maple syrup. Just another reason to order a copy.

The bottle has been sitting in the fridge for a few weeks. I've struggled to find a use for it. And that's why I was so excited to make this maple granola. I like a lot of things in my granola, so I loaded it with dried fruit (cherries and cranberries), sunflower seeds, pepitas, chopped walnuts, and, of course, oats. After it's tossed together with the maple syrup, a couple tablespoons of butter, and a sprinkle of salt, I baked it in the oven until golden brown.

So, thank you Aimee for your beautiful, inspiring recipe. I hope everyone goes and picks up a copy of your book right now.

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Maple, Fruit and Nut Granola

Source Adapted from the granola recipe in Brown Eggs and Jam Jars by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque

Note This is not a clumpy granola. Personal preference, but I like smaller pieces.

Ingredients

3 cups oats
1/4 cup pepita
1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup chopped dates
½ cup maple syrup
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoons Kosher salt

Directions

1. Position oven rack to the middle and top third of oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a large baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper (if you are using smaller pans, use two).

2. In a bowl, mix together the oats, pepita, sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts, dried fruit, dates and salt.

3. Drizzle maple syrup, melted butter and a sprinkle of salt over mixture and toss to coat.

4. Spread mixture evenly in the lined baking pan. Place pan(s) in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown, giving the mixture a stir half way through. Be careful not to burn the granola.

5. Remove pan(s) from oven and let the granola cool before transferring to a storage container. The granola can be stored in an airtight container for two weeks.