Monday, July 11, 2011

Strawberries, Granola, and Ahhh Madison!

Summers in Wisconsin are amazing. I love the not hot weather, the abundant produce, and the active residents. One of my favorite aspects of our city is definitely how diverse the land is. Within one mile from my house, you pass farmland, woodlands, neighborhoods, a school, daycares, a golf course, a research center, and lots of shopping (among other things). You get the perfect mix of land and luxuries.

A couple of weeks ago, John and I stopped at one of the strawberry stands set up within one mile from our house. The organic strawberries were picked that same morning.

Admittedly, I'm not super creative when it comes to fruit. I ended up making a batch of granola to make simple parfaits with a little honey sweetened greek yogurt.

Is it just me, or does all granola look essentially the same? There's no way to tell prior to tasting it whether or not it will taste good. The day of the parfaits, the recipe I used was just ok.

The granola I made a couple of days ago was really good, though. I combined the technique from America's Test Kitchen (recipe not online) and some of the spices from Simple Bite's Chai Spiced Granola recipe.

This is by far my favorite granola that I've had. It's slightly sweet with a hint of coconut. The flavor is complex. The texture is crisp but not hard.

Here's the big list of what you'll need. I imagine you'll have almost everything on hand, and, if not, the ingredients are easy to find. 

Chai Granola
Adapted from Simple Bites and America's Test Kitchen

Yields about 2 quarts

3 cups old fashioned oats (not the quick cooking or steel cut)
1/3 cup coconut oil (can substitute canola oil but you're missing out)
1/2 cup slivered, blanched almonds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
2 T flax seeds - ground or whole golden
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, unsalted
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup cane sugar (aka Demerara sugar; can substitute agave or more honey)
2 T water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (fresh if you have it)
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
optional: 1/2 cup cocoa nibs or dried fruit, like apples or golden raisins (I ended up not using them)

Preheat your oven to 325, and line a large rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a 12 inch skillet over medium heat, lightly toast the almonds and walnuts, stirring every minute or so until you can start to smell them (about 2-3 minutes).  Stir in the pumpkin seeds, oats, and oil; continue to toast and stir every minute or so until the oats start to get some color (about 4-6 minutes).

Turn off the heat and add the sesame seeds, flax, salt, and wheat germ.

Temporarily empty the oats onto the spreadsheet or a different container. Add to the skillet the honey, cane sugar,  approximately 2 tablespoons of water, cinnamon, salt, cardamom, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and pepper. Heat over medium until the sugar is dissolved. Add the oat mixture back to the skillet, and stir until all is incorporated.

Spread evenly over the parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Remove from the oven when the granola is turning golden brown.

Stir in the coconut and dried fruit, if using. Depending on the size of your baking sheet, you'll need to either spread it out or compact it together to form a 1/2 inch thick granola slab. Let it cool completely. Break into pieces and store in an air-tight container for about a week.


  1. You didn't specify the amounts of spices you used. I'm assuming you used some, as there are spice bottles in your picture. :)

  2. Looks delicious! I loved summers in Madison (my husband went to grad school there.)

  3. OMG, Lisa- thanks for pointing that out! Those spices are what makes this granola amazing. They are all added now!

    Crystal- yes, there's hardly anything like summers up here.

  4. chai anything is okay by me! this looks delish!

  5. Looks delicious...I'm pinning it now! =)

  6. That looks wonderful. I love granola and I love chai.

  7. Mmmm...that sounds so good! I love chai and usually make my own granola, so this is something I'm going to have to try! Thanks!

  8. what gorgeous photos! The granola was really yummy, but I still crave more chai flavor. I wonder what would happen if I just opened a couple tea bags into mix...
    here's my current version:

    1. Hi Lola- You must really be a Chai lover! I really wouldn't recommend adding straight tea leaves into granola; I imagine it'd taste bitter. You could add a highly concentrated brewed chai tea in place of the water. It's not much, but would probably make it taste more like tea, if that's what you're looking for!


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