Every year after the Thanksgiving holiday, instead of joining the hustle and bustle of crowds at the shopping malls, I like to spend quality time in the kitchen. Cooking and sharing food with others gives me great joy, and a purpose in life. So the gifts I like to give; a spiced nut mix or specialty wild blueberry jam, sinfully sweet confections, or pan of yeast rolls, are also the ones I like to receive.
When my children were young, creating gifts from our home “factory” was a family affair. We’d select a project or recipe, make a list, shop for ingredients, and gather the tools and supplies. Then with the sounds of Mariah Carey serenading us with Christmas carols , we’d whip out batches of decorated cheese balls, hand-cut cookie dog bones, or buttermilk-spiced coffee cakes.
Each item would be tied with a festive ribbon and labeled with care. Then just before Christmas, we’d all pile in the van and deliver our unique “foodie” gifts to teachers, swim coaches, neighbors and friends.
Our tribe left the nest a while ago, but now the grandchildren and their cousins are ready to enjoy the fun. This year, the family homestead kitchen at Round-the-Pond in Norway (Maine) will be filled with the aromas of spices and toasty oats as we gather to make batches of Maine Maple Granola.
This recipe is from my archives, and I’m warning you, the flavor is addictive. A perfect combination of crunch, sweet, nutty and chewy keeps you coming back for more.
Fortunately, it’s nutritionally dense, and makes a great snack. As an added bonus, this recipe is vegan, gluten and nut free; consumable gifts for all the different eating styles and diets on your list.
I like to fill vintage glass jars with granola and tie them up with a festive ribbon.
For small hands, a snack-sized container of Maine Maple Granola is a special, no-mess type of treat. Boxes of granola ship well too.
This season, share the spirit of giving with your family and friends. Make something special and give from the heart.
Maine Maple Granola
- 5 cups oldfashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick cooking)
- 1 cup unsweetened big flake coconut
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp cloves
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup Maine maple syrup
- ½ cup canola or safflower oil
- Assemble ingredients and tools. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- In a smallsaucepan on top of the stove, combine the Maine maple syrup and oil. Heat gently and stir in the vanilla extract and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Pour the syrup mixture over the mix and stir until evenly mixed and moistened.
- Spread the granola on a cookie sheet and slip into a preheated 300-degree oven.
- Set the timer for 10 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and turn the granola. Repeat until the granola is golden and toasted, about 90 minutes. Be careful, the edges brown very quickly.
- Let the granola cool in the pan on a rack.
- When cool, break into pieces and store in tightly sealed containers.
- If desired, 2 cups of dried fruit like raisins, figs, dates and cranberries may be added to the granola.