The first time I tasted granola, it must have been 1972,  in fourth grade summer school. My mother worked full-time, so summer school was never optional for me. I didn't mind. I always made a new friend, and that year was no different. Her name escapes me, but she was very sweet and had beautiful, long wavy hair. One day she shared her grandmother's granola with me. I had never had anything like it before, and it would be many...I mean, MANY years before I would ever have anything like it again.

I've searched over the years, looking for that wonderful first taste recipe, but nothing ever quite came close, until recently a friend shared a basic granola recipe with me, and I thought, well, here it is, the closest thing I had come across. I really like this recipe because it's easy, and you can change things around, adding or subtracting, substituting ingredients, making it sweeter or not, to suit your own taste. It's almost a 3:3:1 ratio ~ 3 parts oats, 3 parts seeds/nuts, 1 part wet (sweet and oil).

                                                      BASIC GRANOLA

9-10 cups Old fashioned rolled oats (just happens to be one bag of Trader Joe's oats)
1-2 cups unsweetened coconut (I use one cup shredded and one cup flaked)
1 cup pepitos (pumpkin seeds)
2 cups pecans
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup sliced almonds
2 cups sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons cinnamon (optional)
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup pitted dates
3/4 cup coconut oil

Mix the first 10 ingredients in a very large bowl.

In a blender, blend the pitted dates and syrup into a smooth paste.

Melt the coconut oil (about 20 seconds in the microwave) and blend it into the paste.

Coat all the dry ingredients with the wet mixture. Split half of the mixture between two large jelly roll pans. Cook for 20 minutes at 300 degrees. Mix the granola and put it back in the oven for another 20 minutes. Repeat for the rest of the mixture.

You could add sesame seeds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, the sky's the limit. I've tried substituting honey for the syrup, but it just didn't taste right to me. I'd like to try black strap molasses sometime and see what that does.

This recipe seems like a lot, and I guess it is, but you'll be surprised how quickly it gets eaten. I always have extra jars around for gifting to friends and family.

I like to sprinkle a bit on my Greek yogurt and raw oats for breakfast; or enjoy it with fruit, on ice cream, add dried fruit and cocoa nibs and take it hiking, or just snack on it plain. How do you like your granola?

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