Gorgeous Granola

In my opinion home made granola knocks any shop bought cereal into a cocked hat (that’s an odd saying, isn’t it?  Wonder where it comes from?).  The great news is that it’s not at all difficult to make, and has a really flexible ingredient list.  It does need continued attention during the 30-40 minute baking period, but it’s well worth the time.  I find it’s a lovely rainy afternoon cooking activity, ‘specially when combined with gumpaste flower making (more on that another day).

Granola on spoonThe basic ingredients for granola are:

  • a cereal base – usually oats (use jumbo ones, not itty-bitty porridge ones); rye, barley etc. can be used, but not for a g/f version!
  • nuts and seeds – we’re particularly partial to sunflower and pumpkin seeds/pistachios and almonds, but have been known to variously use sesame seeds, flax, hazelnuts, coconut and walnuts…what’s in your cupboard?
  • fruit – any dried fruit you like…cranberries, chopped dates, apricots, raisins, cherries, sultanas, mango, apple…as I said, anything you like in any combo you have available.
  • sugar  – usually a ‘sticky’ sugar such as honey, maple syrup, agave etc., alone or in combo with ‘grain’ sugar (soft brown or muscavado work best in my opinion)
  • fat – typically a neutral oil like rapeseed/canola, although coconut oil can be good if you have it.
  • flavouring – salt, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger…what do you like?

The ratios are really down to personal preference, but the following should give you a good stepping off point in your quest for personal granola perfection.

Continue reading

Ghosts of Christmas past

Merry Christmas!

Like a small child I’ve woken unnecessarily early and am sitting here, in the peaceful hush of a sleeping house, taking a wee meander through Christmases past, having some moments of appreciation for Christmas present, and vaguely flirting with a few ideas for Christmases yet to come (yes, tis true…I’m already germinating plans for next year!)

As you know, this year the Renegade household has been in the wonderful and very fortunate position of being able to afford to purchase special Christmas gift items for our loved ones.  However, as discussed in an earlier post, this has not always been the case and over recent years we’ve made a lot of our Christmas gifts in the form of food hampers, so I thought I’d show you a few…

Christmas Gifts 2009These were from several years ago, when we had a real white Christmas and even a city suburb like mine managed to look magical.  I particularly liked the edible gingerbread gift tags on the hampers, but am less keen on the hand written labels for the jars.  The labels really should be printed, unless I learn calligraphy, or at least seriously improve my handwriting.

Continue reading