Cereal Porn…American style

Recently in Sweden, Ida Riedel Palmer, bought a box of cereal because it was promising a free fitness cd inside.  It did come with a free cd, but when the woman played it she was shocked to find ” not soft porn…what I would categorize as unpleasant porn, not that I would know much about it”.  She contacted Nestlé who promised to investigate and find out how her “corn flakes became porn flakes”.  There were two things that struck me as funny in this story (which you can read here).  The first was that, after thinking she might have a computer virus (which I can understand) her next thought was to call her boyfriend and ask if he might have been using her computer.  This just brings up sooo many questions- none of which I need answers to, of course.  The second thing is the the last line of the article states that “No I haven’t changed cereal. But I have bought another packet”.  Go Ida!

Here in our little corner of America, when you say “cereal porn”, Grumpy pictures granola.  He likes it that much.  His favorite granola was really pretty good.   He was getting frustrated, though, with the huge increase in price (from $2.99 to $4.99) and the apparent shrinking of the box.  I decided a few months ago that I’d try my hand at making it at home.  After reviewing the 237 million recipes out there, I realized that it was really just a matter of personal preferrence.  Grumpy prefers the nuts and oats type of granola, but I’ve pushed his limits to get a balance of foods and flavors that the majority of our family will like.  In truth, the recipe changes depending on what is available on any given week.  We were talking recipes at work, and I promised Maureen that I’d actually measure and record the ingredients this time.  So here it is for Mo, Grumpy, and now you too.

These are the ingredients we had on hand today.  I make HUGE batches, as we go through a lot.  Feel free to adjust and decrease as needed.  The playlist here is: rolled oats (not quick oats or steel cut), crisp rice cereal, chopped nuts (walnuts today), raw sunflower seeds, flax seeds, shredded coconut, raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup, honey, kosher salt (*) and oil.  I prefer to use unsweetened coconut, but this is “use it up” time and we only had sweetened.

Into a huge bowl I measured: 6 cups rolled oats, 2 cups crisp rice cereal, 4 Tablespoons flaxseeds, 2 cups chopped walnuts, 2 cups raw sunflower seeds, 2 cups coconut, 2 cups raisins.  In a small bowl I mixed 1/4 cup brown sugar with 2 Tablespoons cinnamon.  I do this to make sure the cinnamon is more evenly distributed.  (*) I also add 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt.  It is just to add a bit of complexity to the sweetness, but can easily be omited.  Mix the whole thing until all the ingredients are well blended.

Now for the wet ingredients…Oil is something I struggled with.  The truth is, you won’t get the best granola without adding a bit of oil.  I use whatever healthy oil adds the least flavor.  In a measuring cup I add 1/3 cup oil, 1/3 cup maple syrup and 1/3 cup of good raw honey.  Stir it together, dump it over dry ingredients and gently fold it into the cereal until well mixed. 

As this is a huge batch, I need to either bake it on a huge pan or split it into two pans.  I spray the baking sheet with oil to make clean up easier.  I recently was indulged with a great big, shiny new baking sheet.  The puny looking, well used and beloved one beside it is a standard sized jelly roll pan.  The new one is 15″x21″.  I was able to get it all into the one big pan.

 

Spread all the cereal mix into the pan evenly.  Here is what it looks like before baking.  It already has a tiny bit of a brownish color.  This is much paler than the finsihed product.  Bake at 375 degrees, stirring as the top layer browns, until most of the cereal has a golden brown appearance.  If the layer is thick, as mine was, it can require many stirs and (in this case) as much as 35 minutes.  Thinner layers will cook much more quickly.

 

And here is what it looks like when it is done baking.  See the difference?

Now it has the rich, golden brown color that makes it “cereal porn” in Grumpy’s eyes.

Cool for no more than 5 minutes in the pan, then dump into a large bowl to finish cooling.  This helps prevent it from sticking to the pan- which can become quite a pain to remove.  Cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container for storage.  This filled a gallon sized container, with a little set aside for snacking.

I asked Grumpy how long he things it lasts before it gets stale.  His reply: “Who knows? It never lasts long enough!”