I’ve just noticed that it’s been nine days since I last posted anything on this blog – really must do better. I have thought about it several times – I’ve even taken photos of things I’m cooking, with the intention of posting them. Unfortunately, things conspire against me – either the dish I had great hopes for turns out to be mediocre or it tastes nice but looks like a dog’s breakfast once it’s on the plate. More often, I get half way through cooking something, the phone rings or someone calls round, then I get distracted and remember about photographing the rest of the process about five minutes after we’ve finished eating the evidence.
This time of year is always busy for us. We have an influx of friends from the UK, who are here before the season to open up their houses for the year. It is wonderful to see everyone, but terrible for our waistlines, as everyone wants to meet up for lunch or dinner, which inevitably leads to us eating more than we would at home. We try to keep on top of things by slotting in a few extra 5:2 days here and there, but sometimes our good intentions fall by the wayside.
After some experimental bread making, I have also slipped into the terrible habit of having toast for breakfast instead of fruit, or cereal on walking days. Even though I limit myself to one slice of toast, it involves butter and jam, and isn’t really the best thing to provide the necessary long-term umph to propel me up the steep hills of the Lycian Way.
I have therefore turned my attention to a new and improved version of my toasted granola, as the breakfast cereals available here in Turkey are not just expensive, they are also largely tasteless and absolutely loaded with sugar – no wonder toast is such an attraction. I started playing around with the recipe, as I decided that the coconut in my super-nutty toasted granola recipe was obliterating the other flavours. Each time I made it, I reduced the quantity, but came to the conclusion in the end that it was better to leave it out completely.
I also had one of those lovely cooking accidents which turn out to be an unexpected bonus. I bought some loose whole almonds from the Friday market, then realised when I got them home that they were salted. I didn’t discover this until they were already chopped up and in the granola, so I omitted the little bit of salt I normally add to the mix and hoped for the best. The result was a triumph – a bit like salted caramel, I suppose – just the odd little explosion of salt here and there, which really adds a certain something to the taste. Of course, if you want to be salt-free, just use ordinary almonds. The spices are interchangeable – it is surprising how adding or omitting different ones can make such a difference to the end result. Experiment with your favourites and see which you like best.
This recipe makes enough to fill a 1 litre ice cream tub – it keeps really well in a sealed container, so I have started to double the recipe, as it takes no longer to stir up twice as much and it still fits onto my largest roasting tray.
Salted almond & cranberry granola
Fills a 1 litre ice cream container
60ml sunflower or other flavourless oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey (or maple syrup/golden syrup if you want to keep this vegan)
75g salted almonds, chopped
75g hazelnuts, chopped
250g oats (rolled or quick-cook porridge oats are fine)
25g wheat or oat bran
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons mixed spice
100g mixed seeds (I used pumpkin, flax, sesame and sunflower)
A couple of handfuls each of dried cranberries, raisins and/or other dried fruit of your choice
You will need a large shallow roasting tin, lined with non-stick baking paper
Pre-heat the oven to 135C.
Put the oil, sugar, water and honey (or syrup) into a large saucepan and place over a gentle heat until melted – no need for it to become very hot, just enough to dissolve the sugar.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the nuts, oats, bran and spice (do not add the seeds at this point).
Stir everything together, then spread evenly over the lined tin.
Bake for 20 minutes, then give everything a good stir around, so that the mixture around the edges doesn’t burn before the rest is crisp. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes. Add the seeds and give everything another good stir around. Return to the oven for a final 20 minutes, then leave on the tray to cool.
Once the mix has cooled completely, stir in the cranberries and raisins and store in an airtight container. Delicious served with yoghurt, fruit and an extra drizzle of honey or maple syrup.