Monday, February 7, 2011

Like a Rolling Stone...

Not even snowstorms in Ohio can dampen my delight in road trips.

I love road trips.* I love them for a lot of reasons. The sense of independence I have, for example, as I barrel down the the open road. The thrill of travel and new experiences. The hours of reflection. The ability to catch up on my poor neglected, backlogged podcasts. And let's not forget the food.

Something I've recognized recently is that I have long associated road trips with food. Specifically, Cracker Barrel (still a guilty pleasure, I'll admit) and gas station pickings. This is largely due to the road trips of my childhood, during which I would purchase Mountain Dews and Snickers Bars by the fistful during daylight hours and gorge myself on the Country Ham Dinner Plate with Fried Okra and Country Corn every evening.

Now in my mid-20's and in charge of my own culinary destiny, I still recognize in myself a desire that manages to surface, no matter how deeply buried, to feast on the gleanings of truck stop and rest area fare.

One way I am extracting myself from this pastime is to fully stock my car with an assortment of goodies. Apples, pears, tangerines, cheese, crackers, smoked oysters... my parents' pantry was ransacked and pillaged, and I have been enjoying the spoils for the past six days.

But the crown jewel in my collection of healthy road trip snacks is my homemade granola. Crunchy, studded with juicy raisins, salty and sweet in equal measures, bursting with spices and flavor, this is easily the best granola recipe I have ever tried.

I didn't follow the recipe exactly, due to the bareness of my pantry in a few key areas - *cough* coriander. Regardless, I was very pleased with how it turned out. The original recipe (scroll down to "Indulgent Granola") also makes about 10 cups, so I halved it.

Indulgent Granola, Road Trip Style

4 cups oats, rolled (not quick or instant)
1 cup raw nuts, coarsely chopped (I used almonds)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
pinch of nutmeg
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup butter
Dried Fruit (I used raisins, but feel free to be creative) 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and move the oven rack to the middle. Prepare a large baking sheet by lightly spraying with cooking spray or lining with parchment paper. 

Mix the first seven ingredients in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan, mix the sugar, honey and butter and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Pour the liquid over the oats mixture and toss until thoroughly coated.

Spread the granola evenly on the baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 minutes. Rotate halfway through.

Remove from the oven and cool completely. Add dried fruit after it has cooled and store in an airtight container.

Note: I like to use the cardboad container that the oats came in to keep my granola. It's handy, and you get points for recycling.

Road trip update: I am currently in Pittsburgh, enjoying tea at a very cute cafe and preparing questions for my visit to Chatham University tomorrow. So far, I would label this road trip quite a success! I'll update more fully later.

Lastly - in the spirit of road trippin', check out one of my favorite road trip songs of all time... albeit one of the stranger music videos.

*Interestingly enough, while flipping through a copy of Whiter Shades of Pale: The Stuff White People Like, Coast to Coast at a bookstore the other day, the first thing I opened it to was "Road Trips". It's like they know me.


  1. Comment the first...smoked oysters?

    Comment the second: I'm all about the parchment paper. Makes getting cookies off the sheet so much easier.

    Comment the third: How does one rotate granola? (direction reads "Rotate halfway through [baking]."

  2. Item 1: I like smoked oysters. And?

    Item 2: Ditto.

    Item 3: One rotates the pan so it bakes evenly on all sides.