Last night I had a dream that I made granola. I have no idea what Freud would have made of that, and frankly I think he had some funny ideas anyway, so I didn’t consult my husband Nathan’s dream analysis book.

Instead, I went to Jeanne Lemlin’s Simple Vegetarian Pleasures cookbook. Jeanne, whose Vegetarian Pleasures was my go-to when I moved out of my parents’ apartment and into my own, is one of my favorite cookbook authors. I was a non-meat eater when I was in my twenties, and if not for Jeanne’s tofu fra diavolo, I might have starved. (Or gone home a lot more.)

This is an adaptation of Jeanne’s granola recipe is from Simple Vegetarian Pleasures, and it truly is simple and a pleasure:

3 cups regular oatmeal (not quick-cooking)
1/3 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup chopped almonds or walnuts
1/4 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, or similar
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut (or not, if you’re allergic)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey, blackstrap molasses, or agave nectar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot, heat oil and honey until blended. Remove from heat and add all other ingredients except the dried fruit. Spread on cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and toss granola, then bake for 5 to 8 minutes more. When golden brown, remove from oven and let cool. Then stir in dried fruit. Makes a quart and a half of granola. Double the recipe and have some for yourself and some for a delicious, inexpensive holiday gift!

What I love about this granola is that it’s not made with hydrogenated oils and loaded with refined sugar, as most commercial brands are; aside from being unhealthy, they’re also too sweet. This is way healthy and just sweet enough. It’s also simple to make other dried fruit and nut substitutions. Apple and walnut! Mango, macadamia, and ginger! Go crazy!

My grandmother used to can and preserve her vegetables and fruits; I doubt I could manage that as I have brown thumb and wouldn’t be able to grow anything in the first place, much less can it. But I’m learning that there are some things I can make at home that are even better—sometimes even cheaper!—than what I buy in the store.

Nana had to learn how to cook too—she was career girl long before she became a farmer’s wife—and, inspired by the way she learned how to cook from the ladies of the Saratoga Springs Grange (which I wrote about in Cherries in Winter), I’m slowly learning my way around the kitchen too.

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