A look at cooking freely within constraints –be they environmental or culinary or other.

Having major food allergies (all things cow related, shellfish, mushrooms and beer), I have had to adapt how and what I cook in order to eat “normally” – this in turn cultivated a love of cooking and feeding people.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cereal Gnomes strike in Argentina

What what what?!?!?!?

A box of cereal that is simply a box????

Yes, its true.  i thought that we had cereal, I had bought several boxes of granola (which is insanely expensive down here) and was just settling in for a post night out snack of granola with home made almond milk, and.... voila.  Naught but a box.
I turned to Sorin, empty box in hand, and he suddenly became veeeeerrrrry busy with something on his laptop.

I had to laugh though, because he threw away the plastic bag in the box containing the cereal, and put the empty box back on the shelf.

Its a damn good thing he is cute.

So, thoughts turn to the fact that we seem to go through 2 or 3 boxes of cereal a week, and at 15 to 18 pesos a pop, that adds up fast.  Soooo....  time to make granola.  I can buy the ingredients for granola for a little over half the cost of one box, I can control the sugar and make it to my taste.

So here is the recipe I ended up using, which was altered according to what nuts (almonds) and dried fruits (papaya, raisins and coconut) that I could find and afford.  I was craving pecans, but down here, pecans are difficult to find and when I did, they were $120 pesos per 100 grams....  gulp.  No pecans this time.  But almonds are just as good, and I was so excited to find papaya "en cubitos" - cut into tiny cubes - that I had to add it to the mix.  And at $13.80 pesos for 100 grams, absolutely affordable.  But you can use whatever nuts (pecans, almonds, walnut, hazelnuts, etc) and dried fruits you like.  Heck, you could even throw in some chocolate chips at the end and get really decadent!

 And yes, I needed the oven for this recipe.  So the gas needed to be lit.  But I made Sorin do it, and I hovered nervously nearby, but not too nearby......  you know, just in case one of us needed to call for help....

2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar - I prefer dark brown, but you can use light
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup  almonds- I crushed them as I find whole almonds a little much in a spoonful of cereal, but you could keep them whole if you wish
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup dried papaya
1/3 cup coconut - I could only find the finely ground coconut, but I bet coconut slivers or shavings would be tasty too.

Preheat your oven to 325 degree and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, brush the parchment paper lightly with some vegetable oil for ease of removing the granola after baking.  (I guess-timated what 325 degrees meant in my oven, and hovered over it constantly, determined not to burn my first attempt in the oven.  The smell was an excellent way of "watching" my batch, it let me know the moment it started to burn so I could save it from a carbon-y death.) 

Mix the oats, cinnamon and salt in large bowl.  Here, it was a game of Try To Find The Large Bowl, which apparently was being used to hold the orange carcasses from Sorin's late night snacking, under his desk.  Once the bowl was located and held out to Sorin, who again became intensely immersed in something on his laptop screen, I could continue to....
In a separate bowl, mix the honey, brown sugar, oil and vanilla.  Whisk until completely integrated.  Add to oats along with the coconut and fold together until all the oats are completely coated.  You can use a spatula, or do as I do and use your hands.  Dump onto parchment lined baking sheet and spread evenly, but not too evenly, you want some clumps for texture.
Here, I have no cookie sheet, and the oven is too small for one, so I am using a pie plate, which works, and thankfully, Sorin has not discovered yet.... although I am guessing after he reads this, it will be stolen as a fruit carcass container soon enough...
Bake for 10 minutes.  Then flip the granola, add the almonds, and return to oven for another 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and toss in the dried fruit and allow to cool.  Make sure to keep it in an air tight container.


Oh, and the home made almond milk will be posted soon, I'll need some more in a couple of days, and it is so easy to make and so much tastier than anything you can buy in the store.  Plus, there is almond pulp left over after wards that makes some AMAZING cookies, pastry dough and pancakes....  those recipes coming soon too!  :-)

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