Solar Granola!

I love granola. That wonderful combination of oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, sweetened and baked- I have never met a granola I didn’t like. Years ago, living in Florida, we learned to make our own. It is not hard at all- you just measure the ingredients, mix them up and put on a cookie tray. Then you bake the tray of granola. The ingredients can be just about any thing you want .

So, I arrived at the farm the other day with this project in mind. A wonderful weather reprieve has graced us with its presence this week, and the good weather invigorated my creative juices. I bravely acted as if I knew what I was doing and mixed oil, peanut butter, honey and molasses together in a bowl. Then I added oats, peanuts, pumpkin seeds and coconut. I spread it on a tray and took it to the solar oven.

The solar oven, when closed, looks like a big blue box. Underneath the lid are two panes of thick glass and a chamber lined with reflective surfaces. The lid is a mirror that can be angled to optimally reflect sunlight into the box. Sunlight is focused into the oven and then the heat is trapped by the double layer of glass as well as the very well insulated walls of the oven. To pre-heat, open the lid and aim the box toward the sun. I have seen it bake some beautiful loaves of bread. I used it to make squash muffins. My husband roasted potatoes.

The main drawback of this particular solar oven (and I don’t know the name as I haven’t taken the time to look) is that if a dough is particularly wet, there is no where for steam and moisture to go. My squash muffins were pretty soft, and my first attempt at gluten-free bread, with its dough created with more moisture than typical bread dough, was rather gooey. I thought this would also be a problem with the granola, but actually, the granola baked beautifully. It came out slightly toasty and chewy without being soggy.

When making granola it helps to use this as a guideline- the dry ingredients should be lightly coated with the liquid/oil once they are combined. There should not be large amounts of excess oil, etc. forming puddles on the pan.

Solar Granola

1/4 cup peanut butter (or other nut/seed butter)

1/2 cup oil (or other neutral cooking oil)

2 Tbls honey

2 Tbls molasses

1 Tbls cinnamon

3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup peanuts

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup dried coconut

Combine wet ingredients and cinnamon in large bowl. Add dry ingredients, stirring until oats, nuts and seeds are evenly coated. Place in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes until lightly browned. Allow to cool before storing in a jar. Alternatively, place in solar oven for at least an hour.



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