I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 60’s and 70’s. It was the heyday of the hippie movement and the beginning of today’s health food practices. A man named Euell Gibbons was touting the virtues of raw foods and whole grains. People were moving away from the cities and establishing communal farms. It was a time of change, rebellion, protest, open love, drugs, new music, and food. Much of it passed me by (thankfully), but I am still a child of that era. We were there for the first Earth Day, the first time anyone complained about noise pollution, and unfortunately, we witnessed the murders of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy. The Viet Nam war was on everyone’s mind and I stood in the minority, with two brothers in the Navy. It was a confusing time, it was an exciting time, it was a disturbing time. And all of that shaped the generation that now runs this country. We are a generation born of change.
At the same time, in Berkeley, California, in addition to the war protests and People’s Park sit-ins, a new food initiative was born. Alice Waters, along with countless others, decided that the convenience foods of the 50’s were not the way people should eat. They believed in fresh foods, eaten the same day they were picked from a neighbor’s yard. They knew that if people could taste the difference, they would understand the passion behind organic produce and humanely raised animals. It was the dawning of a new awareness, one we are so gratefully enjoying the fruits of today.
One of the most popular foods of that era was granola. Granola is far more versatile than most people realize. You can eat is as cereal of course, but you can also make beautiful layered parfaits with yogurt and fresh fruit, perfect in the morning or as a snack anytime of the day. If you really want to be decadent, use vanilla ice cream instead of yogurt! You can use it to top a fruit crisp or crumble, make granola bars with it, or use it as the base for healthy cookies. Think outside the box and get creative with this delicious blend of grains, nuts, and fruits!
Fast forward to today. When James and I go to Lake Tahoe, our favorite place to stay is at the base of Squaw Valley at the PlumpJack Inn. It is small and intimate with a wonderful restaurant and access to all the fun activities in Olympic Village. Every morning they provide a fabulous breakfast, which includes an amazing granola. Full of delicious and healthy grains, nuts, and fruits, it keeps our tummies filled during hikes on the mountain, a day of skiing, or exploring at the Lake. We look forward to our vacations at the beautiful Lake Tahoe and enjoy the laid-back nature of the area, and we can’t wait for PlumpJack’s granola. It is the perfect way to start the day!
- 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 cup honey
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup, or Lyle's Golden Syrup
- 4 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup flax or millet seeds
- 1/4 cup unsweetened wheat germ
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1-1/2 cups mixed dried fruit (any blend of raisins, cherries, cranberries, etc.)
- 1 cup maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a large saucepan, combine the butter, honey, maple syrup, and corn syrup and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. (Watch carefully - the liquid tends to boil over). Combine the oats, coconut, nuts, sesame and flax seeds, wheat germ, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Pour the hot syrup mixture over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- Lightly oil the surface of a large baking pan with the canola oil, wiping off any excess with a paper towel. Spread the granola mixture evenly onto the baking pan and bake for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking or large clumps from forming. Remove from the oven and stir in the dried fruit, mixing it evenly. Return to the oven and bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 more minutes.
- Let cool completely before sealing in an airtight container.
- Yield: about 2-1/2 quarts