For anyone out there who has a hard time coming up with what to make for dinner each night, I would suggest you order Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now immediately. It’s only $12 on Amazon, and it’s completely changed the way I think about cooking. The cookbook is divided up into 12 chapters – one chapter for each month of the year, and each chapter containing 10 recipes that should be made in that month. Maybe it’s because I love to follow rules, but this structure really speaks to me. I’m sure I used to at least subconsciously think about cooking/eating seasonally – and I’ll make any recipe I can find with the word “pumpkin” in its title during October and November – but I never used to think of April as the month for asparagus and rhubarb, or August as the month for eggplant. Ever since my friend Lindsay introduced me to Cook This Now, however, it’s been a fun new challenge to shop not just for seasonal produce but even meat and fish. Linds sent me the book at the end of 2011, so I set out to cook my way through it in 2012, Julie and Julia style. 10 recipes per month seems totally doable, right? Of course I didn’t make it, but in Month One I was still going strong. “Double Coconut Granola” was the last remaining recipe I had to try at the end of January last year, and I was (co)hosting my book club girlfriends for a getaway at Hood Canal the last weekend of the month, so I thought it would make a perfect “favor.”
It turned out so delicious that I made a second batch as soon as I got home from Hood Canal – and in order to not eat the entire thing myself (turns out granola is really just deconstructed oatmeal cookies), I packaged it up and brought it to my aunt Molly’s birthday dinner that night. She loved it so much that I had to make it for her again this year (and this time, give her the cookbook to go with it). Molly is one of the most generous people I’ve ever known – she is always thinking of others, doing for others, worrying about others – so of course I was thrilled to be able to give her something she was excited about. She never shows up to a meal without a delicious treat or the perfect bottle of wine, she never lets a birthday go by without an over the top gift, and when I offhandedly mentioned to her last year that a girlfriend was house hunting in her neighborhood, she found my friend (also named Molly) the perfect house, two houses down from her adorable bungalow in Northeast Portland. Now the two Mollys are neighbors, and theirs is a street I love to visit, granola in hand.
I should probably tell you at some point that I really, really love coconut, possibly more than the average person. Granola, cupcakes, curries, pina coladas, you name it. If you don’t love it as much as I do, or if you don’t have coconut oil on hand, this recipe would work just fine with olive oil instead. And if you’re really coconut-adverse, you can leave out the flakes too – the beauty of homemade granola, I’ve found, is that you can tweak any of the ingredients to your liking.
It seems wrong to be talking about a “monthly” cookbook, and then posting a recipe from the wrong month, but this granola is too good not to share, and I promise you it’s as delicious in February as it is in January. As I still have a lot of recipes to catch up on from last year, I’ll try to share them during the appropriate months going forward. And I can’t wait for next fall when I can write about my other favorite granola recipe, pumpkin pecan (see above re: making anything involving pumpkin). Who knew granola could be so seasonal?
Double Coconut Granola, from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped raw pecans
1 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup coconut chips
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup dried cherries
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients but the cherries (I usually combine all the dry ingredients, then stir the maple syrup and coconut oil together and pour them over the oat/nut mixture and combine until the oats are coated).
3. Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake until golden all over, about 45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes.
4. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add the cherries, tossing to combine.
For another fabulous blog post on granola (because who doesn’t want to read more than one), please visit my friend Yoona’s blog. Yoona is my blogging inspiration, and as I was writing this I started to remember (panic) that she had already written about granola, and that I was accidentally copying her. Turns out she not only writes about it, but gives you her own recipe, and tells you how to package it much cuter than I do. I mean, even her ribbon looks better than mine. Dang it! Oh well, what are friends for if not to inspire us, right? Next time I’m doing a gift tag too.