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First off, if you’re not familiar with the band Guster, take a quick pause and go listen to Ramona.  Now you’ll understand why I’ve been singing to my granola a little excessively (albeit sometimes in my head) lately.  And now we can move on.

I don’t know why it took me so long to make granola.  I’ve been eating it for just about forever, and although there are some really good storebought granolas out there, nothing quite compares to homemade.  And when chewy/crunchy foods are an issue, as they often are in my house, it’s great to have complete control over just how chewy/crunchy your granola ends up.

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This recipe is from — take a guess — the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, and it’s meant to be a granola with a higher ratio of large chunks, as opposed to mainly small pieces of oats.  This, to me, is genius, because really those big pieces are what elevate granola from being just a bunch of oats and nuts thrown together in a bowl.  I haven’t had luck getting the majority of the granola to clump together completely, but using the larger of the two maple syrup quantities given in the recipe does seem to help make more chunks (and it might be because I grew up in Massachusetts, but I’m firmly in the more-maple-syrup-is-always-better camp anyways).

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If you’re not the type to stop and photograph your food at every stage of its creation, I imagine this granola would be super quick to put together — the recipe is very simple.  Aside from one little mishap (pro tip: don’t get overexcited and just start throwing everything into the bowl at once, or you will end up picking all the cranberries back out of your oats individually), my granola-making went very smoothly.

Next up: yogurt?

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Big Cluster Maple Granola (from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup toasted wheat germ

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp coarse salt

1/2 or 2/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 large egg white

1 1/2 cups dried cherries or other fruit [i used just 1 cup of cranberries]

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Combine all ingredients but the egg white and dried fruit in a large bowl, tossing to coat evenly.  Whisk the egg white in a small bowl until frothy.  Stir into the granola mixture, distributing it throughout.  Spread it in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 44-55 minutes. About halfway through the baking time, use a large spatula to turn over sections of the granola carefully, breaking them up as little as possible.  Rotate the pan if the granola is baking unevenly.  When it is evenly browned and feels dry to the touch, transfer the pan from the oven to the cooling rack.  Cool completely.  Once it’s completely cool, break up granola into clusters, and sprinkle in dried fruit.

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