For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1
Autumn owns its unique sounds and scents. In Virginia, the chirp of spring peepers gives way to the high-pitched notes of the cicadas and crickets. Sumacs begin to turn to a bright cinnamon color, and those first tinges of gold touch the maple leaves. In my home state of Minnesota, the air is filled with the scents and sounds of harvesting. Tractors chug up and down the field rows, gathering corn cobs from golden stalks and soybeans from the squat bean plants that have turned hues of yellow and brown. Farmers follow the same rhythm each fall; first the gathering in, then the plowing under to put the fields to rest for the winter. The newly turned fields fill the air with a warm smell of dirt, which was always my harbinger for the change of seasons.
Those first cool, crisp days are rich with anticipation. Students have settled into the new term of school, facing the day with a packed lunch and snacks. Many of us look forward to pulling out cozy flannels and sweaters for chilly mornings. Our favorite seasonal foods hint at the holidays soon to come with abounding opportunities for hospitality. This season lends itself to baking and gifting to others what we lovingly prepare at home. You might remember a time when a guest brought along a hostess gift, a small token of thanks, to a planned meal or gathering. I love bringing a little surprise along to a friend’s house, but with a hectic schedule, I seldom have time to stop by a store to find something.
Harvest Granola offers a simple, homemade solution for your own pantry and as a gift to bless others. It is easy to prepare and lends itself to baking in batches to store away. Keep it in the cupboard as a cereal, yogurt or ice cream topping, and for healthy snacking. Pour it in a pretty jar, top with a ribbon and a copy of the recipe, and give as a hostess or teacher gift. The fun thing about this recipe is its flexibility, so you can prepare it according to food allergies or preferences! Add any dried fruit and other nuts and seeds if you like. Shredded coconut is a yummy addition. I usually double the recipe, mixing it in a large roasting pan, so that I have some to keep and more to give away.
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 ½ cups sliced almonds
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ cup liquid cooking oil (I prefer melted coconut oil)
¼ cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ cups dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, raisins, currants, chopped dates, chopped mango)
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup shredded coconut (Stir into the granola mixture at the last 10-minute mark or it will burn)
Preheat oven to 300°. In the roasting pan, mix the oats, almonds, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Warm the honey and oil in a saucepan, then whisk together with the vanilla. Carefully pour the liquid over the oat mixture. Stir gently with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined.
Spread the granola out to an even layer and bake for 40 minutes total, carefully stirring every 10 minutes. (add the coconut for the last 10 minutes) Remove from oven and let cool, stirring it a few times to prevent clumping. Finally, stir in the dried fruit.
Store in a Ziploc bag or mason jars. The granola can also be frozen up to 3 months.
The featured image is courtesy of Annie Nardone and used with her kind permission for Cultivating and The Cultivating Project.
The pottery bowl is made by Cultivator Jordan Durbin. Click on her name and jump into her Etsy shop!
Annie Nardone is a flannel-clad, cowboy boot-shod adventurer who seldom travels with a map because joy and surprise are discovered in the journey! Her sincere passion is the reintegration of the arts and humanities with theology and the Christian imagination. She holds a Masters Degree in Cultural Apologetics from Houston Baptist University and writes for Literary Life and the quarterly magazine, An Unexpected Journal. Annie resides in Virginia with her Middle Earth/Narnia/Hogwarts-loving family, and an assemblage of sphynx cats and feline foundlings who read with her daily. In a poll taken among friends, six things that characterize her include: books, C.S. Lewis, spontaneous adventure, Shakespeare, caffeine, and cats.