When the Mountains Call

August 29, 2008

I’ve retooled my granola recipe—and, I must say, I love the results. This twist on my basic recipe plays up one of my favorite flavor combinations: cherry and almond. (Yes, I’m a wee bit taken by almond right now. I was afraid you might notice.) Accordingly, dried cherries provided the dried fruit component, while chopped almonds stood in for the normal assortment of nuts and almond extract replaced the usual vanilla extract for flavor. It’s not a huge deviation from the original recipe, but I think it’s one we’ll return to often.

I’m packing this granola into a container and stashing it in my suitcase later today. That’s right, the bags are packed and it’s time for (another) vacation! Kevin and I are headed to the Canadian Rockies for a week—splitting our time between Banff and Lake Louise in Alberta, and Golden in British Columbia. We’re planning to throw this granola in our day packs, so we can enjoy a handful here and there as we hike through the gorgeous glacial lake-studded mountains.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

The only downside of this vacation is that it means we will be out of the country (even if only barely) for one of my favorite American holidays: Labor Day. I strongly believe that Labor Day is summer’s last stand and I usually take it quite seriously: barbecuing up a storm, hitting the beach, eating al fresco, running outside, wearing all the white clothes in my closet, etc, etc.

But! Knowing that I would miss out on this squeeze-the-last-drops-out-of-summer ritual of mine, we had a make-believe Labor Day barbecue a week early with Kevin’s family—while his older sister was in town visiting and the night before his younger sister left for Boston, where she’s starting grad school in September. The temperature might have dipped into the decidedly chilly range and the gusts of wind up on our deck had us all pulling our sweaters tightly around us, but we pretended it was a lovely summer night—even if only via our menu.

The menu was this: barbecued chicken, blue cheese coleslaw, cornbread panzanella and grilled corn with smoked paprika butter. For dessert, we each tucked into a slice of open-face blueberry pie, flanked by a scoop of fresh peach ice cream. The buffet was an offering of summer’s very best and I made sure to buy all the fresh produce from the farmers’ markets. I’m not rattling off this menu just to get you drooling, though. No, I want to let you know that I’ll be posting on this menu’s recipes all next week while we’re away—a consolation, of sorts, for missing Labor Day.

I figured there might be others out there who will also be away on Labor Day and planning a do-over for the following weekend. Or maybe you just aren’t quite ready to hang it up when it comes to summer BBQs—and want to stage a Summer’s-Last-Stand meal even after Labor Day. As such, I’ll be posting one recipe (with photos and a story, of course) per day next week, so—in theory—you’ll have your fake-out Labor Day/Summer’s Last Stand BBQ menu planned by week’s end.

For now, though, here’s the granola recipe, slightly tweaked:

Cherry-Almond Granola

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut flakes, unsweeteend
3 tablespoons flax seeds
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/4 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup almonds, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons whole almonds
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon almond extract
2 cups dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 375. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the dried fruit. Stir well to incorporate.

Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet, spreading it out into an even layer. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes (depending on the depth of goldenness you’re looking for), stirring every 10 minutes.

Remove the granola from the oven and and cool completely, in its pan, on a wire wrack. Once the granola is cool, mix in the dried cherries.

Summer’s-Last-Stand/Labor Day BBQ Menu — one recipe a day all next week!

  • Ina Garten’s Barbecued Chicken
  • Cornbread Panzanella (recipe and write-up here)
  • Gourmet Magazine’s Blue Cheese Coleslaw
  • Grilled Corn & Smoked Paprika Butter
  • Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Open-Faced Fresh Blueberry Pie
  • David Lebovitz’s Peach Ice Cream

10 Responses to “When the Mountains Call”

  1. Amanda Says:

    I traveled through that region in Canada when I was younger and loved every minute of it. The Banff national park and Lake Louise were some of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. And going through Whistler was AWESOME! If you have time, wander up to the Glacier national park. Talk about astounding! That is, if there are any glacier left.. thanks global warming 😦 Have fun, be safe, and take tons of pictures!

  2. RecipeGirl Says:

    Kristin- I absolutely love a good, homemade granola recipe. Like you, I’m quite smitten with anything almond. Have a fun trip!

  3. jd Says:

    Yowza – that granola of yours is absolutely gorgeous!

    PS Have a wonderful vacation 🙂

  4. natalie Says:

    i’ve been following your site ever since your Ugly cake post. (it’s really NOT that ugly!) your posts kept me motivated to try new things at home and practice. i showed alot of your yummy blogs to my fiance and he’s been bugging to try. w/ tons of healthy grilled veggies from your summer dinners, i sometimes drool on my office keyboard. … =)

    have a good time at the rockies. you’ll LOVE lake louise! =)

    ps. here’s a photo from last winter.


    from vancouver, british columbia.

  5. Monica h Says:

    Cherry Vanilla Granola with almonds is my favorite- I get mine from Whole Foods. It’s the next best thing to homemade.

  6. That looks like a great combo – I have been hunting for a great recipe that has all my favorites and this is it.

  7. Megan Says:

    i am always looking for new granola recipes. this one has cherries in it so it definitely have my vote! yum 🙂

  8. pipee Says:

    I just had some WONDERful granola homemade by a woman at our local farmer’s market. It was amazing. I sometimes forget how great granola can be!

  9. eggsonsunday Says:

    I’m not ready to hang up my summer yet, either! Can’t wait to see your recipes. And, I hope you’re having a fantastic time…gah, I can only imagine how beautiful the scenery you’ll be seeing is. I hope you’ll share pictures! 🙂 –Amy

  10. Amanda: We had a great time! Didn’t make it to either of the Glacier Ntl Parks (US or Canada), but we were all over Banff & Yoho Ntl Parks. So gorgeous.

    RecipeGirl: Thanks!

    jd: Thank you!

    natalie: You’re right — we loved Lake Louise. It was a welcome change (calmer, less crowded, etc) from Banff. Your photos are gorgeous!

    Monica h: I’ve seen that one in the WF bulk bins. I’ll have to give it a shot.

    Cathy: I hope you give it a try!

    Megan: If I had to pick just one dried fruit, cherries would be it.

    pipee: Agree.

    Amy: “gah” is right! I’ll be sharing photos tomorrow …

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