Monday, January 14, 2008

Uncle Austin's Granola

Every Christmas, my uncle Austin cooks up gallons of granola to give as gifts. The lucky recipients know that this isn’t just any granola—it’s an addictive treat that once you start, it’s difficult to stop eating.

He’s been making this granola for as long as I can remember. And being a humorous fellow, he always packages it with silly labels such as: “New! Jimmy Dean All Organic Granola;” “Chef Roscoe’s Famous Style Granola made by the Sanitary Food Co.;” “Name Brand ‘Fancy Style’ Granola;” “Jesus’ Favorite Granola (He says that about everyone’s granola and means it);” and my favorite, “Health Camp Hi-Carb Granola: Preferred by Nudists Everywhere.”

But no matter how the bag is branded, it’s what is inside that counts. And Uncle Austin’s amazing mixture of organic oats, nuts, coconut and dried fruits is a salty, sweet treat that is just as good with milk or yogurt as it is straight out of the bag.

One Christmas, the family gathered at my mother’s house in Houston. Everyone was able to make it, except for my grandparents who weren’t feeling up to making the trek from their farm six hours away. My uncle Richard, who lives in Dallas near the farm, was given a bag of granola to take back to my grandparents. But the bag should have been kept under lock and key because by the time the granola arrived at the farm, half the bag was gone! “Why did you eat their granola?” asked Austin. Richard replied, “I’m sorry, I just couldn’t help myself, it’s so good!”

I like to share food with my friends—it’s a friendly thing to do. But when it comes to Austin’s granola, I have to be careful. A few years ago, I let my boyfriend at the time have some of Austin’s granola. He loved it, as everyone does. I told him this was powerful, precious stuff that was only received once a year, so we needed to be judicious in eating it. He agreed. Then, the next day I returned home from work only to find he’d eaten the whole bag! “Why did you do that?” I asked. “I’m sorry, I just couldn’t help myself, it’s so good!” he replied.

Without Austin’s recipe, I had tried to recreate his granola but I had met with little success. Then last month, Austin’s computer hard drive was wiped out and the technicians were unable to save anything. He was sad and thought he’d lost everything. But one thing was saved: his granola recipe. Fortunately, it was that time of year when he makes his annual batches and he had just printed his recipe to use as a shopping list. And while he doesn’t need a recipe to make his granola as it’s all in his head, he wanted me to share the recipe with the world so it would never be lost.

He wrote: “I’ve worked on that recipe for years. Some people seem to like it a lot. I finally wrote it down two years ago while adding ingredients and made notes while doing so. Richard said it was the best ever, maybe it was. Anyway, losing everything, as if in a fire or flood, though not nearly so bad, made me want to share my granola recipe, just so it's there for everyone to enjoy.”

So here is Uncle Austin’s granola recipe. Of course, it won’t taste just like his because recipes never do. But don’t worry, you’ll make it your own by adding your own passion and something special. And in the meantime, when my batch this year runs out, this will tide me over until next Christmas when Austin will bestow upon us his grand, grand granola.

Uncle Austin’s Granola
Ingredients:
10 cups rolled oats
1 cup dried milk
6 cups nuts
5 cups dried, unsweetened coconut flakes
3 tsp. salt
1 to 1.5 cups vegetable oil
1 cup honey
3 tsp. vanilla
2-3 cups currants (add after baking)
Heat oven to 300 degrees

Method:
1. Combine dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
2. Add wet ingredients. Hint: add the oil first then pour the honey in that cup. Mix thoroughly.
3. Put it in pans 1-3 inches thick and bake.
4. Use a spatula to turn it every five minutes or so. Like cookies, it’s best to take it out before it seems done. When it feels hot to the touch and is a light golden brown, it’s ready.
5. Add currants

Austin's notes: Use organically grown ingredients if possible. Think good thoughts at all times. Thank God for good friends and good food. Enjoy the adventure of life on this planet.

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48 comments:

shannon said...

Hi Homesick Texan,

My name is Shannon and I'm the editorial assistant at Foodbuzz.com. I am very impressed with the quality of your posts and to that end, I’d like to invite you to be a part of our newly launched Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program. I would love to send you more details about the program, so if you are interested, please email me at Shannon@foodbuzz.com.

And I know what you mean about rationing the good stuff. I love sharing with friends and family, but sometimes there are just things you have to hide, you know? (But don't tell them I said that.) ;)

Cheers!

Shannon Eliot
Editorial Assistant, Foodbuzz.com
shannon@foodbuzz.com

Danielle said...

Thank you, Uncle Austin! I'm thinking good thoughts your way.

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Dry milk... who woulda thunk it?

I love granola~ it makes me feel as if I've started the day off right. I may have to start making my own!

Don Ray said...

You are the recipient of the "You make my day" award which can be seen on my current post.

http://www.chiriquichatter.net/blog/2008/01/14/you-make-my-day-award/

Tommy said...

Uncle Austin from Austin. Man you could have a field day marketing this product.

Did your Uncle ever think about taking this to the next step ?

People would love all his eclectic different labels and he could make them all collectors items.
Isn't Austin Texas civic slogan," Keep Austin weird" ?

lorijo said...

I stumbled upon your blog today- I have had to bookmark it so I can read it all-I too am a homesick Texan-I'm from Austin, (my brother still lives there) and I miss it everyday.

Sandy said...

Thank you for this recipe. I am not a fan of granola myself, but I have a grandson who will just scarf this down!

Lydia said...

Thank you, Uncle Austin! You are a generous soul to share your wonderful recipe.

AnnieKNodes said...

My favorite part about this recipe is Uncle Austin's notes. That, and the coconut. "Thank God for good friends and good food." Amen, Uncle Austin.

She sure is strange! said...

YUM!!! I love granola but have never ventured to make my own. I cook everything like Austin, thinking good thoughts, thanking God for my family and friends, and the bounty I'm preparing. It just makes the food taste better!

Molly

Cara said...

Mmmmm that sounds amazing!!

Pille said...

I'm intrigued by the dried milk too - how interesting! And I'm glad that your uncle Austin decided to share the recipe finally - I've got a good recipe to try now!

Brilynn said...

I just wrote about how addictive granola is too! I can never keep it in the house cause I just eat it by the handful!

Emily said...

With that description, I can't wait to try it!!!! And I love the labels Uncle Austin does each year.

I too will be thinking happy, loving thoughts while I make it!!!

mamacita said...

Much as your uncle deserves immortality for devising this recipe, I still think the better name is "Jesus' Favorite Granola."

Leslie said...

Actually, I've never really liked granola, but I'm implementing a lifestyle change. I'd like to try Uncle Austin's because maybe it'll be different than that yucky stuff they sell in stores. I just have some questions... Are the nuts chopped up first, or added whole? Where in the world (or supermarket) can you find currants?
Thanks!
Leslie

Baby_Tease said...

I love your blog, and this story especially. I watched Alton Brown use unshelled sunflower seeds and almost died the other day. I want to gather my ingredients and try this on Sunday. Thank you so much for giving us this recipe. You didn't have to do that. I live in Spanish Harlem and have a hard time finding my Floridian cuisine, so I can relate, sister. Regards... Kim.

Jessica "Su Good Sweets" said...

Alton Brown's recipe for granola is pretty solid, but I might give yours a try. What a funny story.

About cooking with fragrant pears, I've never done it because I think they're so good out of hand. If you bake with them, let me know how it goes!

Homesick Texan said...

Shannon--Thanks for thinking of me. I'll get back to you on that.

Danielle--I let Austin know that you said that!

Sandi--That's his secret ingredient, he says. And yes, granola, while perhaps not low in calories, does make me feel like I'm getting a healthy start to my day as well.

Don Ray--Thanks! That made my day!

Tommy--Yep, that's what we keep telling him. He's looking into how to produce it on a larger scale so hopefully it'll be in stores soon!

Lorijo--Welcome! Hope you enjoy my blog!

Sandy--I bet your grandson will be mighty appreciative if you make him some homemade granola.

Lydia--I let him know what you wrote!

AnnieKNodes--I agree--his notes are the best thing about his recipe.

She Sure is Strange--Yep, thinking good thoughts never did anyone any harm!

Cara--It is!

Pille--It's hard to describe just what the dried milk does, but it certainly imparts a certain delicious flavor!

Brilynn--Did you know it was National Granola Week because I didn't. What a coincidence!

Emily--The labels are fun, we always look forward to what he's created.

Mamacita--I vacillate between the two, but that is indeed an excellent name!

Leslie--You can usually find currants next to the raisins. I've seen them at all sorts of stores, not just gourmet groceries or Whole Foods. And the nuts are whole.

Baby Tease--Unshelled sunflower seeds? That seems like it would make for difficult eating!

Jessica--I will definitely let you know how it goes!

Ashley said...

OMG this looks heavenly!

Julie said...

Your Uncle Austin’s notes are my favorite part of this recipe, and with all respect to Uncle Austin I have to say that if I make this I will call it Jesus’ Favorite Granola because that’s just too good a name not to use.

I’m looking for a good granola recipe so I’ll have to try this out. And dried milk? Who’d have ever guessed.

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Thanks for sharing the recipe...I've been looking for a good granola! And I love the fact that your uncle labels it with imagination :)

Don said...

Thanks for the recipe.Looks great.

Someone Being Me said...

Sounds delicious. I will have to try this out. It sounds a lot healthier than the bags of Chex puppy chow I hand out each year.

Cynthia said...

Please thank Uncle Austin for being such a generous man.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I love the addition of coconut. And for the record, if he eats all your granola you are totally justified in breaking up with him.;)

Cakespy said...

This looks exceedingly tasty!! Thank you Uncle Austin! The Gift of Granola!

Homesick Texan said...

Ashley--Heavenly is indeed the right word for Austin's granola!

Julie--The more I think about it, the more I have to say that Jesus' Favorite Granola is the best phrase for this cereal. And yes, dried milk is his "secret ingredient/"

Caffienated Cowgirl--My uncle is very imaginative--though even without the humorous labels this stuff would still be the best.

Don--You're very welcome.

Someone Being Me--Puppy chow is good stuff, too!

Cynthia--Consider him thanked!

Susan--Ha! My thoughts exactly!

Cakespy--Oh, man, is it ever! And I'll let Austin know what you said.

Austin J. said...

It's an honor to have a recipe on my niece HT's excellent blog. When she was preparing the article, she asked me to send files of previous labels, so I dug those up from obscure sections of my computer, including the "Jesus' Favorite" which I'd forgotten about. When the computer crashed a week before Christmas, I wasn't that sad - it felt more like starting anew. But I'm sure glad she asked for those labels because they were archived. So always back up your files, enjoy cooking and, most of all, have fun with friends and family!

Cigarlady said...

I think the dried milk really adds to a granola. The best recipe I found was in Cowgirl Cuisine by Paula Disbrowe. Hers used maple syrup and brown sugar and she used powdered milk, wheat flour and flax meal as well as oats, pecans, pepitas, sunflower seeds, oil and dried fruit. I actually found a small bag of diced mixed dried peaches, cherries and blueberries that worked perfectly. I like the coconut in your recipe. Great blog.

Lyra said...

Homesick Texan, this looks like a great granola recipe, I will have to try it out (and knowing me, I'll probably start messing around with the ingredients, but thats just a sign of a good recipe:). The best thing about this post, though, are your uncle's notes at the bottom. So thank you to your uncle for both the recipe and the lovely thoughts that he sent out to everyone:)

francie said...

Oooh oooh! Granola-eey goodness! This looks delish as do all the other posts. Wish I could meet Uncle Austin. He sounds like a hoot. So glad to have found your blog.

Homesick Texan said...

Austin--Thank YOU for sharing your recipe!

Cigarlady--Yep, the dried milk is what adds that special flavor. I have Paula's book, but haven't made her granola yet. Sounds like a good recipe!

Lyra--Aren't his notes lovely? They really capture his personality.

Francie--He's indeed very cool!

janelle said...

Hello!

So happy to find you via your granola; I had to include the yummy recipe in my post today:

http://www.talkoftomatoes.com/2008/01/29/the-gamut-on-granola/

Happy crunching!

ChiliDude said...

I'm new at this blog. I cannot believe that the subtitle to the blog does not include 'in the pursuit of great Texas-style chili.'

Anonymous said...

I have been on pursuit of the best granola recipes for quite some time. I love the philosophy of this one and no matter how it tastes, it has to be wonderful because of all put in mentally and physically. I wish it contained some fruit other than currants. I am not a fan of them. I will try it maybe only to give you your proper credit for the idea and seeming wisdom that came from creating it. I bet it won't be made with currants though. If I like it well enough, I'll attempt it again but tweak it a bit.
I must say, I am inspired not so much by the recipe, but with you.
Thank you for your upbeat take on something as simple as granola.

Anonymous said...

I just finished making a batch of your recipe with almonds (I wish I had known that the nuts were going in whole..I spent an hr cutting them into slivers), dried cranberries. It tastes fabulous. I normally don't like coconuts in baked goods, but this tastes good. Thank you.BTW, what other nuts do you normally use ?

Suganya

littlecumulus said...

Thanks for posting this recipe - the dried milk is intriguing! (I got here via Smitten Kitchen, btw.)

Jilian said...

That is the sweetest recipe post ever! What a great family you have! Makes me wish I knew this Uncle Austin - sounds like a great guy!

I just starting attempting my own granola - looking forward to trying this recipe!

Lisa said...

I just made this tonight and it seems too salty to me! :( Is it just me? I love everything else about it but I think I'll cut the salt down the next time I make it.

Mrs Ergül said...

Hi! I love how this looks, I will get started on this at the soonest possible. I will just like to confirm that dried unsweetened coconut flakes is actually desiccated coconut? Over here, we only know it as desiccated... Thanks lots!

Thanks for sharing with us such a beautiful story too!

Mrs Ergül said...

In had intended to halve the recipe but careless me added in 1 cup of dried milk instead of half cup! So I went on to make the full batch. My husband love it! Thanks for such a great recipe!

Manuel Braverman said...

Thank for a great recipe and fabulous blog.
Two ingredients inspire me.
1.-Think good thoughts at all times, greatest ever to add to anythin done in the kitchen for someone else, including a Glass of Water.
2.-Dry Milk... I wonder what it does to the product...this is probably the secret on this particular recipe.

Thanks Again

Tina said...

I love this recipe. Has anyone ever made it into granola bars? Just add more honey maybe?

hikerpat said...

I've been using a granola recipe from Prevention magazine for 30 + years. But, it's dried at 250 degrees for 2 hours, turning every 15 minutes, and is left in the oven until cool. I just can't imagine its being done when it's hot. I'll try yours, cut it in half, and thorough- ly dry the grains before using. Thanks for a bit different take on a favorite breakfast - yogurt topped with it, is also great!

patti said...

The prevention recipe that you speak of is the same my mom and dad used to make. Also very good, I know my mom hasn't been able to find it since her last move, will you share it?

Elle said...

when it says vanilla do you mean liquid extract ???

Maria G. said...

Hello! Another "homesick" Texan here. I was trolling around for a good holiday granola recipe and the internet gods (Google) sent me here! Thank you so much (and your Uncle Austin) for sharing such a precious family heirloom. The story behind the recipe has also made my day. I cannot wait to try this! It will be made with love and good thoughts. It really IS the only way one should cook. ;-)
What an exciting day this has been! Something else I discovered today: Laughing Yoga. Woot!

Much love to you all...

Maria, who currently resides in California.

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