The first night that I stayed over at m hay’s man cave (a.k.a. the house he had before we moved in together), he didn’t offer me any breakfast in the morning because he didn’t have any food in the house.
Not unusual — chefs rarely buy a lot of groceries because they eat at work.
I got the feeling that skipping breakfast altogether was habit for him.
But, the next time I stayed over, he had a box of granola.
Unfortunately, I have a food intolerance to oats.
But who cared – there was my intel! He likes granola for breakfast.
I had been struggling with what to make when I cooked for him for the first time, as I was very intimidated by his cooking skills.
But that week he repeated about 5 times how much he likes granola for breakfast.
Looking back, I think he was trying to impress me, as I’m interested in healthy eating. That was before m hay knew much about healthy eating — before he realized how much sugar and fat are in commercial granolas.
Anyways, I knew that I could make a great granola.
Smitten, I went to the grocery store and stocked up on ingredients – walnuts, molasses, oats, flax seeds, sesame seeds, wheat germ, oat bran and honey.
I made David Lebovitz’s recipe for The Best Granola. It was damn good. I used lots of walnuts and prunes. So much umami.
That night, m hay called me after work.
I sat on my pebbled front step in the cool air of that spring night.
He gave me the full details of his day and then asked me about mine.
“I made granola.”
“Nice. What kind is it?”
“Apple and walnut … I made it for you.”
His voice dropped off in a happy sort of shock. He was definitely sporting that dumbfounded look that he gets.
“You made it for me?”
So began a bi-monthly granola delivery to the man cave.
I’ve made all manner of flavours – banana-peanut, peach-cardamom, apple-cinnamon, spiced squash, carrot cake, etc.
The common thread in my granola is always the use of a fruit or vegetable puree to substitute for some of the sugar and oil.
“This granola is a great strategy. I eat it every morning and think of you.”
– m hay
Carrot, Coriander and Fennel Seed Granola
*Adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Best Granola
5 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups walnuts OR pecans OR sunflower seeds
1 cup wheat bran or germ
1/2 cup whole flax seeds
1/2 cup flax meal
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup carrot puree
1 1/2 tbsp molasses
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp dried ginger powder
Preheat the oven to 300F (150C).
Mix together the oats, nuts or seeds, wheat bran, flax meal, flax seeds and light brown sugar.
In a small saucepan, warm the carrot puree, oil, honey, molasses, salt and spices.
Immediately mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Make sure that all of the grains are well coated.
Divide and spread the mixture evenly on two parchment-lined jelly-roll sheets (baking sheets with sides).
Bake the granola for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and stir as though you’re folding it. You want big pieces to remain intact.
Bake another 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, or until the granola is deep golden brown.
Remove from oven and cool completely on sheet, on rack.
Store in a large, airtight container.