Ardent Eden

Ardent Eden is a place to explore my thoughts about the interdependence of life - humanity and nature - and to engage with others for collective problem-solving.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

OK, Maybe I'm Crunchy

It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. — M. F. K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

Seems a lot of folks are shunning the chemically-dependent, agribusiness-run food industry in favor of the slow, delicious goodness of cooking from scratch using wholesome ingredients. Even better if you can grow, raise, and preserve those ingredients yourself. Madcapmum made her own cottage cheese, Norene is making yogurt, and spiral and breadchick have shared bread recipes. I'm re-inspired to commit to taking more steps to move further off the supermarket grid. This tidbit from a summary of Marian Nestle's book Food Politics gives a flavor for the corporate environment that drives what appears in the pantries of many supermarket shoppers:

Like manufacturing cigarettes or building weapons, making food is very big business. Food companies in 2000 generated nearly $900 billion in sales. They have stakeholders to please, shareholders to satisfy, and government regulations to deal with. It is nevertheless shocking to learn precisely how food companies lobby officials, co-opt experts, and expand sales by marketing to children, members of minority groups, and people in developing countries. We learn that the food industry plays politics as well as or better than other industries, not least because so much of its activity takes place outside the public view.
Buying "health foods" doesn't mean that big corporate powerhouses are not reaping profits. Check out the tangled web of corporate ownership of the organic brands we buy, for instance. Why do we care that big corporate money is behind our Odwalla juice, Muir Glen tomatoes, or Boca burger? Because those multinationals wield a lot of power in defining what "organic" means and, indeed, they are all too happy to profit from a weaking of the standards. Plus homemade food has less packaging, and less preservatives and other funny ingredients. And, as said so well by madcapmum here, a meal prepared at home with love and intention is indeed a sacrament.

Today's step? Making my own granola for the first time. While the $3.99 box of Cascadian Farm's Oats & Honey Granola is yummy, the recipe that I created is really very good. It's cheaper, has a lot less packaging, and isn't made by a company owned by General Mills (a GM executive was recently appointed as "consumer representative" to the National Organics Standards Board after the company lobbied for weakening the organic standards). And the house smells scrumptious.

Ardent Eden's Easy Granola
As usual, I started by reading over a few recipes to get an idea of basic process and proportions. Then I looked in our pantry to see what ingredients I had on hand. The result is the following easy recipe; it's simple, doesn't use a lot of ingredients, and has a nice subtly orange-flavored crunch.

Combine the following ingredients in a large bowl:

3 1/2 c. oats
1/2 c. slivered almonds
1 c. coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 c. wheat germ
1/2 c. roasted sesame seeds
1 1/2 t. cinnamon

In a small bowl, whisk together:

1/4 c. canola oil (make sure that this is non-GM!)
1/4 c. honey
zest from 1 orange (it's especially important that it's organic since you're using the peel)

Pour the oil/honey/orange mixture over the oatmeal mixture and stir very well to coat. Spread in a shallow layer on two baking sheets.

Bake at 200 for 55 minutes. Store in air-tight container.



  • At 4:49 PM, Blogger spiral said…

    You and I are thinking alike: I just made granola bars last night. The pecans came straight from my mom's tree--yeah! The biggest difference in the bar recipe was a half a cup of brown sugar, a little more oil, and an egg added to hold it together; otherwise, the other ingredients I used (coconut, for instance) were just add-ins.

  • At 5:27 PM, Blogger madcapmum said…

    That granola looks good! I'm allergic, but that's one of the things I miss most, oats.

    Oh, pecans from the tree! What a dream!

  • At 8:44 PM, Blogger lauren said…

    The granola bars sound like a good idea for a portable afternoon snack to take to work. I wanted to put some coconut or raisins in the granola, but the husband doesn't go for either of those ingredients. I figure I can sprinkle some raisins in my bowl.

    I second madcapmum's enthusiasm for pecans from the tree! I would absolutely love to have some fruit and nut trees. Since we're dreaming, why not throw in some olive and avocado trees. (Not likely in the northeast, but how wonderful to imagine!) oats for madcapmum. Maybe another grain would work just as well.

  • At 10:42 PM, Blogger madcapmum said…

    Rice, maybe, in some incarnation. I'm celiac, so all the regulars (wheat, rye, oats, barley, triticale) are out. I've got a great variety of foods that are "safe", but I do miss some of the standards. Oh well. It could be a LOT worse; I could be ignorant of it and eating myself into an early grave!

  • At 1:18 AM, Blogger Norene said…

    I feel like I'm in the kitchen with all y'all: lauren, madcapmum, spiral, breadchick! My wish list is piling up:

    time to bake bread
    time to make granola
    time to make cottage cheese

    I guess I'd have more time if I wasn't blogging, but then I'd be missing out on all this...

  • At 7:58 AM, Blogger breadchick said…

    I'm working at home today and guess what is in my oven at this moment...(and it didn't involve kneading) :-o

    It DOES smell heavenly. I can't wait for it to come out of the oven so I can pour a little warm milk and sprinkle some more cinnamon on it.

  • At 8:45 AM, Blogger Harmonia said…

    I find your blog very interesting and plan on visiting often...I will link you today.

    Thanks for visiting my place!

  • At 8:57 AM, Blogger lauren said…

    I hear you, Norene! I'm trying to find ways to integrate more whole foods cooking and baking into my routine. Like taking walks outside, I find it really helps me feel a little less stressed.

    Breadchick - You'll have to let me know how it goes! I had a bowl this morning from yesterday's batch sprinkled with some ground flax seed and topped with an organic Anjou pear and soymilk. A good start to the day!

    Welcome Harmonia!

  • At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Vegan Momma said…

    That granola looks fabulous! I will have to try it. It is a healthy snack. :-)

  • At 6:42 PM, Blogger breadchick said…

    Lauren, your granola is fabulous!! I didn't have pecans but some walnuts and macademia nuts left over from Christmas baking. I also added some yogurt raisins to it after it had cooled. I have a tin packed and ready to go to work with me tomorrow. MBH asked what I had cooked today that made the house smell so wonderful!

  • At 9:09 PM, Blogger lauren said…

    I'm so glad that you liked it!! Same deal with me: I happened to have pecans and almonds on hand from other baking projects, so that's what I used. Yogurt raisins sound like a fantastic addition!

  • At 4:43 PM, Blogger Roger, Gone Green said…

    Ok; I have been meaning to try this recipe ever since you posted it . . . so . . uhm, oats:

    Rolled oats?

  • At 12:24 PM, Blogger lauren said…

    hey roger:

    good to hear from you!

    i've got to confess that i'm a little loose with my oats. rolled oats/old-fashioned oats/quick oats/quick, rolled, old-fashioned all gets confusing. i think that i use rolled oats in the recipe most of the time but since i buy them from the bulk food containers, i don't have a package to check. in any event, i think that the recipe is pretty forgiving. let me know how it goes!


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