Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Connie's Granola (w/ Raw Honey, Coconut, Vanilla and Almonds)

As I write this, a melliferous scent is wafting around me. I'm intoxicated and it's all because I'm making "MaMa's Granola" also known as "Connie's Granola" because that's MaMa's name.

After my post on Salty and Sweet Exotic Spiced Granola, where I made note of the long-time family tradition (i.e. addiction) to MaMa's granola, I called my mother-in-law, the lovely and exuberant Catherine Snow, and asked her to write a guest post about her mother's most famous family recipe. She provided the recipe and the italicized text below, which also includes information about her stunning and stylish guest house, Mulberry House, in Nashville Tennessee.

(Brief side note here, I have to admit that I briefly considered renaming this recipe "100 Stairs 6 Times Granola" because I live in a fifth floor walk-up in Harlem and kept forgetting ingredients and having to go out and buy them on separate trips. I console myself with the knowledge that I have, most certainly, earned a deep bowl of toasty goodness by now, plus, it's just worth it. It's that good.)

Here are Catherine's wonderful words about growing up with a fun and food loving mother and instilling the same values (and love for granola) in her son, my superb husband Jonathan. The recipe is below and Connie's jello molds are featured in the photo below!

My mother's hospitality was legendary. Informed by a “food is love” philosophy and a degree in nutrition, she embraced the health-food movement of the 1960's as a lifelong friend, having already practiced its principles for years. In contrast to the fat-laden, pork-based Southern cuisine of the day, our family enjoyed a diet heavy on fresh fruit,” undercooked” green vegetables, nuts, fish, chicken and whole wheat.  My school lunches made me stand out in school as much as did being a preacher’s kid and the only child without a T.V. in a classroom full of mill-town kids. No one ever tried to trade their Cheetos, Slim Jims or bologna on white bread for my whole-wheat sandwiches, carrot sticks, green grapes, and oatmeal cookies.

Still everyone loved to come to our house, where my unconventional minister’s-wife mother, “Miss Connie,” served up laughter, fun and food as a staple. More importantly, she could be counted on to concoct parties galore—birthday parties, Easter egg hunts, and Halloween parties, spend-the-night parties, holiday parties, come-as-you-are parties, skating parties, caroling parties, hay rides, each accompanied by just the right fare served in style.

From an early age, my friends and I eagerly joined her in a messy, kid-friendly kitchen to prepare the goodies, which since they were for parties were not required to be healthy at all—cupcakes, cookies, cake, surprise meringues, mints, brownies and banana bread; savories like cheeseballs, cheese straws, cheese puffs, dips with carrot curls and other tortured veggies—and eventually that favorite 60's party fare, fondue.

When I became a mother, my son was willingly pressed into kitchen duty no doubt because his grandmother, still a whirlwind of energy, made the kitchen the place to be when she visited and kept us busy in her own kitchen when we were at her house. Missing her, we continued the tradition of cooking, eating, and entertaining in Nashville, becoming a sort of party-central in our own way.  Of course, he was destined to grow up and marry a culinary wizard ensuring that the torch has been safely passed to our daughter-in-law, Rachel.

Mama’s legacy of hospitality as well as her beloved granola recipe live on at our B&B, Mulberry House.   Made with local honey, love and a dash of joy, "Connie's Granola" is imbued with memories of a happy, chaotic, fun-filled Alabama parsonage kitchen.

While we would love to have you visit Mulberry House so you can enjoy all our amenities, I know nothing would please my mother more than knowing that her story and her recipes continue to be shared.  Enjoy!
Connie's Granola
Courtesy of Mulberry House Proprietress and loving daughter, Catherine Snow
3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups coconut ribbons (for texture)
1/2 cup wheat germ (optional)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw honey (from our very own honeybees, more on that later!)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup cold water
1 cup almonds, slivered
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup dried fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 225F / Total bake time is 2 hours

Measure the dry ingredients out into a large bowl.

Toss them well.

Pour the honey and oil over the dry mixture stirring to combine. Sprinkle the vanilla over and toss. Add the water, a little bit at a time, until the granola becomes crumbly.

Pour the granola onto a large heavy baking sheet, or two smaller ones if need be. Spread it so it's (basically) in one layer. Bake in the middle of the oven for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes.

After 1 1/2 hours has passed, add the almonds and bake for 1/2 hour longer.

Once it's done baking, remove from the oven and allow to cool fully before adding the dried fruit. I added dried cranberries as is Catherine's preference. Make sure the granola is fully cooled before storing so it won't get soggy. YUM!!!!