Monday, January 6, 2014

Nutty Cinnamon Granola

I officially declare that 2014 will be my year of living frugally. 

I'm paring down the things I spend money on, and saving for things I want. I'm also padding our emergency expence fund, because last year, medical bills were dicey and shocking.  Hopefully "Affordable Healthcare" will really be affordable this year, but  I think what's easier than worrying and stressing about bills, is to learn how to live frugally now rather than panic when big bills happen.

Living frugally doesn't mean giving up good healthy breakfast, eating mush for a year or dining on store brand cold cereal.

It doesn't mean cutting back on great calendars either. Check out the variety I got this year.  

I thank everyone who sent or gave me one, they are all so different and interesting. The only problem is finding a space for all of them.

One of my favorites is from Ayers Creek Farm in Oregon.  Check out this post about the bobcat and chicories on their farm.  Anthony and Carol Boutard have a bee theme for their calendar this year, and each photo and paragraph tells a little the bees on the farm.  For example, January's photo is a photo of an Oregon junco foraging.  Boutard writes, "Among the debris left from the harvest, our native bees and other insects take shelter until springtime."

A scientist for the USDA-ARS Pollinating Insect Research Unit identified many of the wild bees around the farm--the black tail bumbleee, yellow-faced bumblebee and the fuzzy horned bumblebee--and that's just the bumblebees.  They mention the death of 50,000 yellow-faced bumblebees by a neonicoitinoid insecticide in a Wilsonville shoping center last May that planted the idea of a bee theme calender this year.

Each month tells a mini-story about bees and wildlife on the farm.  As calendars go, it's a keeper because it tells me things I don't know about bees. It's interesting how we take food for granted and don't often give thanks to the bees who help make our fruits and vegetables abundant.

In my last post I mentioned I'd like to have more breakfast recipes. Let's face it, most people, including me, tend to choose the same things for breakfast.  It can get boring, and I plan on branching out this year, sampling new options.  Yet my first choice granola is quite traditional, but making it instead of buying can save some money, and here's why:

Many of the ingredients to make granola--oats, nuts, dried fruit and even honey--are already in your pantry.  Sure you can make it with maple syrup but it's not a product you'd necessarily see in a frugal shopper's cart and compared to honey in the cupboard, it's going to be an expensive purchase. 

Walnuts from Grouse Mountain Farm
Rule #1 for frugal foodies:  Eat what you already have before you shop for special ingredients. 

Another tribute to bees?   Who knows but I found a jar of Tahuya River honey that I'd gotten a few years ago and I decided to use it.  Tahuya River was one of my favorite places to stop at the U-District farmers market.   Roy the beekeeper shared compelling stories about beekeeping, and later  his son Josh took over selling and he always had a smile and jokes to tell.  They sold amazing beewax candles, which I still have also. The scent of these candles is heavenly.  One year Tahuya River lost a lot of hives from vandals, and in another year they lost bees to a disease or virus.  They wern't anywhere near agriculture but hard being a beekeeper when replacement costs eat into your bottom line. Tahuya River still has this website with wax and candles but no honey. 

You can put whatever you want into granola. Some varieites at the store had yogurt chips, coconut flakes and chocolate chips.  Some were as pricey as almonds or pecans per pound and none were actually in "frugal" territory.   If you have raisin, cranberries, or any kind of dried fruit, you can use it. Pistaschios and almonds?  Go for it.  I cut up dried nectarines and added banana chips that I had leftover from our Thanksgiving trip to Pismo Beach last year.  

I found pumpkin and sunflower seeds in the freezer.  I didn't use them all, but I made a note about them, so I can use them in future recipes.

I'm learning is more about how to not spend and how to look for bargains rather than clipping coupons.  Add a bit of soymilk, a cut banana and you've got a better cereal than any packaged cereal.  My local grocery store sells cut bananas for 37 cents a pound and often you can find cut organic bananas tossed in with the non organic bananas--anything for 37 cents.  It's quite a bargain for the organic label.

(Makes about 7 cups)

1 cup honey
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, pecans or 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. 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.

1 comment:

Miz Helen said...

Hi Debra,
I just love to have a nice Granola with my morning yogurt, I will have to give your recipe a try, it looks delicious. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and have a wonderful week and Woof Woof to Finn from Max!
Miz Helen