Monday, January 9, 2012

Got Granola?

Bark More:
A guest post by the Cooking Assistant (the dog picker or Finn, if you prefer)

I found this recipe buried in a pile of papers. Dotted with grease stains it still held faint traces of maple syrup and cinnamon. I inhaled and detected toasted nuts, oats, and vanilla. Wasn't hard to guess--granola.

Before I knew it the paper was in my teeth and I was placing it on top of the pile.

Neither one of the management team has ever suspected us hounds of moving things to enhance our advantage. But seriously, what do you think we do when management is out? Sure we read a lot, who wouldn't with all that time on our paws?

Lately I've been into dog stories. I love to identify with the protagonists--the classic is Kafka's "Investigations of a Dog." Of course there are others--A Dog's Life and The Art of Racing in the Rain come to mind, but the latter strikes me as a phoney dog memoir. I mean, dogs do not want to be reincarnated as people, really, only a person would assume that.

I digress, the thing is, we hounds are hardwired to focus on what's right under our collective noses--where the biscuits are kept, whether the pantry door is locked, and whether pockets hold treats. Scents lure us. Which brings me back to granola.

When management breezed through the door, the lady picked up the recipe and I wasn't a bit surprised. After all I've been doing this sort of thing since I was a pup, I had some good teachers.

A Dog Eat Dog World

My love of the hippie cereal goes back to when all us puppies were all clamoring for the management's attention. We all wanted to go to a good home, and apparently I wasn't the only pup who'd caught the maple nut aroma on her clothes. But I was the only one with the audacity to lick her hand when she reached in the enclosure.

I stuck close by that hand until she picked me up. I snuggled close and I knew I had her. The other puppies yipped as I snuggled close. Easy chairs, squeek toys and home baked treats were within a paws reach. I went all mushy inside when the lady said, "I'll take this one." The easy life yawned before me.

What a rude shock I had sharing my new backseat with a smelly geezer dog, who apparently was part of my package deal. The old fogey was silent and all the way home the smell of rotten teeth and bad skin overwhelmed me. This dog was ancient, and as born optimist, I held out hope smelly old bitch woke she might play with me when she woke.

It never happened. And once we arrived home, two more geezers appeared. I'd landed in a retirement home--and the gruff blue-eyed geezer growled and when management wasn't looking, he snapped at me, letting me know he was onto my game plan. I was an interloper.

I stood my ground. I growled back.

That strategy didn't win any brownie prizes from management who continually sided with the geezers. If you were to ask about the most difficult part of my life, this was it. Fights errupted and I wasn't even sure I'd be allowed to stay, especially when I knocked the old bitch off her feet one afternoon. But what was I supposed to do? Roll over and take it?

I'd expected to be in a one dog home and there I was surrounded by arthritic bonebags trudging around like zombies. (To be continued . . .)

Got Granola?

The good news was that the granola was as sweet as I'd imagined, even better than it had smelled. If only I hadn't tried to steal more. But I can't help myself when food is at hand. Okay, I got off to quite a rocky start, and I didn't recieve the kind of welcome I'd expected, but I still think of granola as my comfort food from the puppy years.

A version of this recipe came from Cheryl Harrison of Skagit Valley Co-op. Management claimed was supposed to be in The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook, but when the manuscript was due, management couldn't find it. Obviously she didn't enlist us hounds to find it. Humans are way too busy with their many meaningless activities. It's no wonder they forget sandwiches on tables and apples on counters.

Can't find your keys? Next time check the dog's bed. Forgot about your sandwich? Don't even ask.

We dogs have a distinct advantage when it comes to getting just desserts, and that includes granola.

One thing you need for granola is walnuts. Local walnuts have the best flavor, and the best walnuts I've ever tasted come from Grouse Mountain Farm. I can practically crack them with my paws.

I'm pretty sure you can get the honey, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and wheat flour from local farms. And as for the fruit, use local fruit that you've dried yourself--apples, pears, tart cherries, nectarines, peaches or apricots--it's all good.

For canine companions--avoid raisins or chocolate, these are toxic.

Maple-Nut Granola
(Makes about 8 cups)

3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (or use whole almonds)
5 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup dried chopped fruit (apples, apricots, pears--no raisins)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Mix wet ingredients together in a saucepan. Heat gently until well combined and very liquid.

2. Cook and combine nuts, oats, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, flour, sea salt and cinnamon, while wet ingredients cook.

3. Pour honey-maple syrup mixture over oat-nut mixture. Spread on baking sheets, and bake for 15 minutes. Stir gently, then return to oven for another 15 to 20 minutes. Mixture should be lightly browned. Allow to cool completely before transferring to a bowl. Not stirring encourages plenty of big clumps. Carefully mix in dried fruit.

4. Enjoy for breakfast, snacks or as a topping for coconut sorbet.


Joan said...

What a fun post! I love it! Absolutely one must stand one's ground, unless it involves an alpha dog and elderly at must have doggy respect now mustn't one? Too fun!

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Thanks Joan, I couldn't resist, he's such a character.

Enrica Prestiti said...

Congratulations on your blog, very interesting and above all very funny! Thank you veru much...

Miz Helen said...

Oh Finn, you are my Hero! Please tell Debra that I just love her Granola, it looks delicious! Thank you so much for sharing with our 1st Anniversary Party at Full Plate Thursday. Have a great week end and come back soon!
Miz Helen

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Thanks for stopping by, the granola disappeared much too quickly for my taste.