For as long as I can remember, my Gramma Betty has been the healthiest eater I know. She's not fanatical about it--but she's consistent. (And, "Gramma" is the way she's always spelled it.) My dad remembers before she changed her ways, but for as long as I've been alive, she's always been a health-nut, in a good way, cooking and baking with honey, whole grains, healthy fats, and all kinds of good-for-you foods. And, just for the record, she didn't require us to eat that way--she often made something for the family and something honey-sweetened for herself.
I have a lot of memories associated with Gramma's cooking. I remember sitting in the kitchen nook around her huge, heavy round table with a built-in, elevated lazy susan. There are always cousins or siblings around that table in any given memory. (And lots of family folk lore...items flinging off when someone spun the lazy susan too fast, aphids on the fresh flowers she always has on her table, etc. Our family of 8 had the table when I was a teenager and my older brother now uses it for his family of 7.)
I remember sitting at that table eating some kind of loaf--bean, meat, or otherwise--with my aunt. And we agreed it tasted like dog food. So I left it and went out back to jump on the trampoline. (Gramma making something gross was rare. At least in my memory.)
I liked that she had safflower mayonnaise. Since it tasted better than Best Foods to me, I remember wanting my mom to get some for our family. (She never did...)
I remember Gramma having 2 versions of whipped cream, honey-sweetened or sugar-sweetened, for her family-famous, delicious buckwheat waffles.
I remember when she introduced us to "Swedish Oatmeal," regular oatmeal topped with fruit and whipped cream, at the family cabin in Mammoth Lakes, California.
I remember, as a teenager, sitting and chatting with my cousin in Gramma's pantry with the clear glass door. It smelled healthy--like herbs, spices, and grains all at once. She must have passed by us about eighty-three times before she opened the door to grab something and finally noticed that we were in there.
After I got married, we finally lived near Gramma. I realized that even after moving three or four times, her pantry still smells the same. She still makes her buckwheat waffles and I've never seen her make the dog food loaf again.
In more recent years, I was introduced to Gramma's granola. She makes a huge batch, saves some for herself and delivers the rest to friends and family in little jars she's saved from her safflower mayonnaise and all fruit jams. It is so yummy and so full of good-for-you ingredients!
It has been a few years since we have lived near Gramma. So I decided to make Gramma's granola. As I mixed it and baked it, I smiled thinking about the little jars of granola she shared with us while we lived nearby. I'm excited for my children to have a small taste of Gramma, even though they can't be with her as often as we'd like. I slightly adapted her recipe, but it tastes just as delicious as I remember!
Gramma Betty's Granola
Yield: 2 large jelly roll pans (FULL)
2 lbs. rolled oats
1 cup wheat flakes
1 cup barley flakes
1 cup broken cashews
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup pistachios
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup sesame seeds (optional)
1 1/2 cups light olive oil
1 1/2 cups honey
1 heaping Tablespoon sea salt
1 heaping Tablespoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Mix oats, flakes, all nuts, and all seeds together in a very large bowl. In a smaller bowl, stir together honey and olive oil until smooth. Add in sea salt and cinnamon; stir until well mixed. Pour honey mixture over oat mixture. Stir until all dry ingredients are evenly coated. Divide mixture between 2 large jelly roll pans. Bake in preheated oven for 18 hours, stirring twice, and rotating pans after stirring. Let cool completely before storing in air-tight container.
NOTES: The wheat and barley flakes are optional. I used both triticale and barley flakes, which I found in the bulk section at Fred Meyer. If you do not use the additional 2 cups of flakes, decrease the honey and olive oil to about 1 cup and the sea salt and cinnamon to 1 Tablespoon, NOT heaping. I didn't want to buy pistachios, so I used chopped walnuts, which I already had. Also, I used 3/4 cup coconut oil (melted in the microwave) and 3/4 cup olive oil. In Gramma's original recipe, she mixes the salt and cinnamon with the dry ingredients. I was concerned that it would all sink to the bottom, so I mixed it in with the honey mixture for more even distribution. I recommend putting this in the oven after dinner and letting it go overnight. That way, you don't have to get up in the middle of the night to take it out. And, just as a point of reference, I stirred it at 5 hours and 13 hours.