...all by myself! - I've been in the restaurant business nearly 19 years, and the food business over 27 years, including my ice cream daze... But I really don't cook very much. Such is the blessing of living with women all my life who have been gifted with superb palates and a love of indulging them!
But of all the amazing things my mother or my wife have ever prepared in our home, none has ever been cereal. I'm cereal obsessed, frankly. I have it for breakfast 5-6 days a week [over my wife's protestations that I ought to better balance my diet]. No one other than my father - an equally marginal cook - has ever enjoyed cereal even close to as much as I do. And yet, all my life I've treated cereal as more-or-less a commodity that comes in a box - or a bag - and that I was locked into what "Megacorp" or "Micrograin" might decide was worthy of taking to market.
In fact, it never occurred to me until a couple of weeks ago that I could make my own cereal if I wanted... But an outstanding brunch at Craigie on Main opened my mind to that very possibility.
With all the delicious choices on their eye-opening menu, never did I think I would choose to order granola... but I did. What made me do it? Coriander. "Coriander and cashew granola." I get a lot of coriander - seeds, stems, and leaves [think cilantro] - in my diet eating Cambodian food several days a week. Never did I think it would or could be an ingredient in my breakfast cereal. But it was. And it was sublime.
Realizing they made it themselves, I Googled granola when I got home and up popped some recipes that looked shockingly easy, even for me. A week later, shopping at Bread and Circus [I know, it's been Whole Foods for years, but Bread and Circus has to be the best supermarket name ever killed; I won't let it die] I bought a half dozen dry organic ingredients, determined to try to make my own.
One Sunday passed. Then another... Why so tentative? Was I nervous?... Finally this afternoon I printed out a recipe and got to work. Oats, sunflower seeds and wheat germ as a traditional foundation. Then a little improvisation, omitting coconut and substituting pistachios for almonds.
The wet ingredients were built on the amazing Wood's Cider Mill's Grade B maple syrup [when did the world become convinced that Grade A maple syrup was best; if you've never tried Grade B, you owe it to yourself to make the effort to find some Grade B and tasted the difference: It's more rustic, earthier, with more "mapley" flavor]. My reading convinced me that most people felt the recipes as-is yielded results too sweet, so I cut the dark brown sugar in half. Then a little salt and a little canola oil and a basic granola was coming together...
But wait: What about that coriander?... I couldn't believe it: The jar was empty! I thought about cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, even ginger... but no, too trite. So in the end I reached for Garam Masala - and got an unexpectedly tasty result. So, late this cloudy afternoon, under a sprinkle of golden raisins and dried mango , cranberries, blueberries, and cherries [hey, what do you expect when you grab a bag of mixed, dried fruit from Trader Joe's?] I treated my wife to my first of what I am convinced is the first of many homemade cereals at my one hand... Now, if I can only figure out how to make wheat flakes and corn checks, then I'll really be on to something!
I can't wait for breakfast tomorrow morning! - Want to make your own? A simple Google search'll turn up a recipe like this. Consider a few tweaks to make it your own, and you're on your way!