I have always frowned upon restaurants, chefs, friends who won’t share a recipe. My perspective was that it doesn’t matter if you give me the recipe for the Frico Caldo, I will still come into your restaurant and order it for a whole variety of reasons ranging from my technique never being as good as yours to just sheer laziness. I never really believed in “secret” ingredients or family recipes that cannot be shared.
The confession…I am now one of those…. I cannot share my granola recipe. I can’t! At least not yet. I didn’t even know I couldn’t until I tried to write it and realized that, while I had the ingredients and quantities list ready, what I didn’t have was the willingness to share it! The whole “don’t do onto others…” doesn’t apply to this one time offense of not sharing…
Here’s the granola story…About a year and a half ago I took a trip to D.C. with a good friend- just us two. I felt it would be appropriate to bring something home to the husband but, long story short, there wasn’t much time for shopping. We found ourselves sipping coffee and eating cupcakes at Baked and Wired in
When the husband sampled it back home, I took a bite, then another…and then another. I am not a fan of cereal—of any kind- not hot, not dry, not with milk, not with yogurt, in no shape or form. I didn’t grow up with it- I could have lived without it for the rest of my life and not miss it once- until the first bite of that granola. It was enthralling. I could not stop eating it and soon enough (no, not in one sitting, but soon!) we finished the bag.
A few weeks later another friend was traveling to D.C.. I begged for another bag (or two) of that granola. She brought it and it was as good as I remembered it. And we finished it just as fast. There was something we couldn’t deal with- we loved this granola, we could not order it online, and although I tried numerous other locally available varieties nothing came remotely close.
I had to make it. I had no recipe, no ingredient list, not even some leftover samples to guide the process. I knew the base- oats. I loved the texture-lots of slivered almonds. A keynote flavor was obvious- coconut- I got flakes. I remembered pecans and decided to sliver them the same way as the almonds (this was a process!).
I looked up some granola recipes and began improvising in a range of ways and with different quantities variations of - butter, brown sugar, Mexican vanilla, maple syrup, honey, and the like. At the end, I always added some dried fruit- sour dried cherries and apple juice sweetened cranberries being most notable.
It was good. It was better than anything we could buy and seemed very close to what we had from D.C.. I made it for over a year- probably about once a month- a huge batch and a whole night of slaving over it and winging the recipe. The husband would devour it and would use it for breakfast, dessert after dinner, and at times in lieu of lunch. It almost bothered me that he liked it so much.
Two weeks ago, another friend was in D.C.. I wanted the granola. He didn’t have time to get it. I called and they generously offered to mail me three bags. Heaven! I could refresh my memory, recreate the recipe, enjoy the granola without actually working on it for a change. The excitement grew when I got it in the mail.
And, predictably, we started going through each bag with amazing speed. By the time I considered recreating the recipe, there was a mere half a bag left. I had to start before we ate it all.
Deconstructing was fun. I took one big scoop out onto a plate then spent a bit of nerd time separating the ingredients.
I wanted to get the proportions right. Took a peek at the plate and the ingredient list- different than my homemade granola.
The original had more moisture, less ingredients, more almonds, fewer pecans, tiny pieces of coconut, some currants, few apricots, and OIL! Canola oil.
I had everything I needed ready so I spent the better part of a snow day at home experimenting with proportions for moisture, chopping down pecans and coconut flakes for texture, using olive oil or canola oil or butter for flavor, and varying the temperature and time of baking for crispness and color. It wasn’t the first time making the granola but it was the first time I put a LOT of thought into the variations, and the first time I wrote down what I did.
At the end of the day I had several variations of the granola ready for tasting. I put them in identical containers, numbered the bottom to know which one is which, and was ready to challenge my husband’s taste buds. The closest to the original was the one I used canola oil in, of course. The butter kind had a very rich caramel-like flavor- that’s what happens when you heat butter and sugar or sugar substitutes, I guess. The winner was the olive oil and that is how my own granola recipe was born…the one I can’t share today.
But my lack of generosity with the recipe shouldn’t preclude you from enjoying my granola.
In anticipation of Easter, let’s adopt the Christian concept of ask and you shall receive. If you want to be an official granola taster- leave a comment, make sure I have a contact email, and I’ll be sure to get you a sample!