As the summer sun ripens a delicious array of fruits and vegetables, I make sure that nature’s bounty takes center stage at the kitchen table. Living in the Midwest, we have so few months during the course of the year where we can have locally grown foods literally sitting at our doorstep. Backyards, gardens and farms throughout the county have the opportunity to produce foods situated in patio pots, raised beds, trellising on garden fences and planted in rows along county roads.
As I was mowing the lawn last week, I spied the beginning of a few delicious looking pears that I can’t wait to harvest when they are ready. My grapes are coming along nicely. I have gathered and prepared several generous heads of romaine lettuce, lots of sweet peppers, and fresh herbs. Nothing compares to the flavors of fresh picked fruits and vegetables that accompany family meals carefully prepared from scratch.
We’ve also started raising bees as a hobby and as a source for our own golden delicious honey. Planting patio pots with wild flower seeds and leaving our land as natural as possible will provide them a source of food as well.
This morning I made a batch of granola clusters to accompany many of the fruits that I grew or purchased from a local farm. A dollop or two of plain yogurt finishes off the dish. (The peaches aren’t quite in season yet so I suppose, there are a few things in the dish that I am hopelessly awaiting as the season continues to bring us an abundance of delicious and nutritious delicacies.)
Here’s to bright warm days and unpredictable summer rains… This is definitely one of my most favorite times of the year.
Honey Granola Clusters
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, whatever you prefer)
1 cup dried fruit (raisins, dried cranberries, dried apples, whatever you prefer)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease or line a 11 x 17″ baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk oil, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and cinnamon until sugar is dissolved and oil is well incorporated. Add in the oats, nuts and dried fruit; mixing well.
Pour the oat mixture onto the baking sheet and spread it out into an even layer, firmly packing the oat mixture into the baking sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the pan half way through cooking. Remove from oven and let the granola cool at room temperature for at least one hour.
Use a small spoon to scoop up the granola off of the baking sheet using the spoon to break the granola into clusters. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.
Make these ahead of time; cover them to store in the fridge for a few hours.