Introduction: Toasty Toasted Golden Granola

Granola is quite a pricey item, why spend the money when you can do a much better job? Granola is simple to make, it just takes a little attention. Granola is the only culinary contribution to last from the hippie era. Sprouts were around for awhile until it was found out they were a hotbed for listeria and carob was touted as a healthful alternative to chocolate, but never caught on and then chocolate was found to be very healthy. With all the hippies added to music, politics and culture you would think there would be some more signature dishes -- well at least Granola is a good one!

Granola takes plain boring oats as its base and makes it into a food that satiates most of our major taste sensations. Granola done right is hard to stop nibbling at. Served with fresh fruit and yogurt it makes a nourishing breakfast that is easy to prepare but in that it works on some basic pleasure centers in the brain, salt, sweet, fat, crunch, you need a little self-control to stop eating it!

Step 1: What You Need

Casserole Pan or Pans around 13 inches by 9 inches
(The recipe is for one pan, but I usually make a double batch with 2 pans)
A large mixing bowl
A large metal spoon for mixing and stirring later on
2 Measuring cups, one for the wet and sticky ingredients and one for the dry
Also (pictured later on):
Oven mitts oven and a timer

Step 2: Ingredients

Doing this becomes very cost effective when you buy in bulk.
Honey is expensive when you buy those little bears but if you buy a 5 or 6 lbs. size you can get it for around $2/lb. Sugar(brown would be better) is cheaper but the honey is what makes it golden and imparts those fabulous honey flavors.
Oats I got the 25 lbs. sack in the photo at the rate of .50/lbs
Nuts I always mix peanuts and other nuts because peanuts are as good as other nut but super cheap in the US because the whole state of Georgia is dedicated to growing them! The nuts do not have to be roasted as you will be roasting them, but I find that roasted nuts are generally only roasted lightly and benefit from the additional roasting. Roasty roastedness is what we are trying to achieve here.
Oil A neutral tasting oil, I prefer Canola.
Salt As nuts usually come salted you will need little if any.
Edit 2013!!  Revisiting this page after a long, I still make Granola, but *IMPORTANT* do not use Canola Oil!  It is a GMO food!  Also please research your honey.  The honey pictured here, as is vast amounts of it sold in the mass market, is FAKE!  Don't eat industrial food, eat real food!

Other optional ingredients not pictured:
I am writing this in the Summer so there is plenty of delicious fresh fruit to have with granola but in the winter I often add some cran-raisins. I believe regular grapes should only be used for wine but you can use grape-raisins too.
When citrus fruit is in season I remove all the zest I can and save it in a container in the freezer. I'll put a big handful in, you can't really use too much. This imparts a great citrus flavor.

Important! Add raisins and zest after the Granola is done cooking, they burn easily.

Step 3: Mix It Up

In the mixing bowl add:

7 cups of Oats. Do this first so the Oats absorb all the oil and honey.
5/8 of a cup of Oil. 5/8 is a weird number, but how else do I express between 1/2 and 2/3 on the measuring cup?
5/8 of a cup of Honey. Adding the honey after the oil makes it just slide right out of the measuring cup.
3/4 cup of peanuts.
3/4 cup of another kind nut or nuts. If you are in nutty mood you can add more nuts and go stand on your head too.
Salt If you emptied a bag of salted nuts with all the salt at the bottom of the package add none. If you used salted nuts add a couple of pinches. If your nuts were not salted add one teaspoon.

Mix thoroughly with large spoon.

Step 4: Add to Pan and Bake

Bake in a 300 degree oven for 20 minutes. It's not quite that easy--after 20 minutes you take it out and stir and bake and stir....

Step 5: Stir, Bake, Stir, Bake, Stir, Bake

Its has been pretty simple up to this point, but here is where your due diligence is required. As the granola to be does not cook evenly, you will need to take it out of the oven and stir it periodically. If you do not stir enough it will burn along the edges and the bottom. With the large Spoon lift the the mixture from the outside into the middle and the bottom to the top. You will see where it is getting done. As it mostly needs to dry out in the beginning and then toasts up more rapidly at the end I pull it out of the oven and stir at 20 minutes then 20 more then 15, then 15, then after 10 and 10 again 2 or 3 times. At the end it will turn a beautiful toasty golden color and you will know it is done. It usually takes 1.5 to 2 hours in total. If your granola burns you may need to reduce you ovens temperature or shorten you stirring intervals.

Step 6: All Done

You can now add raisins or zest. Granola will keep about 10 years but no one can go too long without eating it all up. This recipe makes about 2.2 lbs and I estimate cost me less than $4 and is way better than anything I ever bought in a store.