Because a bare cupboard and an empty fridge are sad sights to behold, the Urban Forager hunts through food & wine shops bringing home tasty morsels that make your kitchen table the best place to eat in town.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Over the years I've made many valiant attempts at making food at home that can easily be found in a restaurant or store. And over the years, I've had to admit defeat more than a few times. Marshmallows, for one. Why would anyone try to make homemade Marshmallows when you can buy a bag of perfectly fluffy, uniformly shaped Marshmallows for a few bucks? This is a good question and one I asked myself after the third time I found myself scraping thin, sticky, spongy homemade "Marshmallows" out of a pan. I have also vowed to The Husband and myself that I will never again attempt to make Thai food. Why go to five stores for fifteen different ingredients that I always manage to turn into an inedible mix of sweet/spicy/fishy flavors when I can simply pick up the phone and have Pad See-Iw delivered in twenty minutes?

But there are some things that never taste as good when they are store-bought and are incredibly easy to make at home. Pita chips, for one. Ricotta,surprisingly, is another. And last week, I added Granola to this list. I love Granola and I have never found a version in any store that I have fallen in love with. And believe me, I've tried them all, spending as much as $10.00 for a mediocre experience. It's usually too sweet or too dry. It usually has too many oats and not enough nuts. The flavor is often bland or artificial tasting. I am so much happier with my own homemade version that I will never buy Granola again. This recipe is easy to make, relatively healthy and can be adjusted to your personal tastes. Like more dried fruit? Add more! Love pecans and hate almonds? No problem! Trying to cut back on sugar? Just add less! The only ingredient I wouldn't tinker with is the oil - if you must cut back, just be warned that your Granola might lean towards something a horse would enjoy eating more than you.

3 cups old fashioned oats
3 cups nuts (I usually use a combination of two or three nuts. My favorites are pistachios, pine nuts, slivered almonds, pecans and pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut (optional)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp honey (you can also use maple syrup)
1 cup dried fruit (sometimes I use less, especially in the summer when I add fresh berries to a bowl of Granola)

Preheat oven to 300. Mix first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together all other ingredients (EXCEPT dried fruit). Pour liquid over oats and nuts, mixing really well to completely coat. Pour Granola onto a rimmed cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper.) Bake 1 hour, stirring several times. Take out of the oven and add dried fruit. Let cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.