This granola is on the table most mornings here. It occasionally works its way into a yogurt parfait or our favorite cookies* as well.
The original recipe came from friends Mary and Gary B. Now dividing their time between Ripon, California (where Mary works as a teacher) and their home in Bigfork, Montana, Mary and Gary are amazing people. Gary ran the family farm for many years; providing seed potatoes for the region, collecting glass rolling pins and serving on the board of the Glacier Natural History Association for fun. In the care-taking spirit that has always guided their actions, the farm became part of a huge conservation easement when Gary retired from farming.
Mary is gifted teacher, an excellent cook and a true renaissance woman with a passion for American history. She has taught me a lot about good olive oil, the wonders of San Francisco, and vintage pillow shams! She used many of her interests to her best advantage when she spent a teaching sabbatical researching the history of the CCC Yellowstone National Park .
In the course of her project research, Mary located and interviewed many men who helped shape what Yellowstone is today when they arrived here as part of the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930s as part of Roosevelt's New Deal. With families who depended on the income they generated, these men built trails, restored native vegetation, fought fires and explored places like Yellowstone until the advent of World War II, when many were tapped as leaders for the military effort overseas.
In his book Wilderness by Design, Ethan Carr writes, "Within two months of Roosevelt's inauguration, the Department of Labor and the U.S. Army had mobilized multitudes of formerly unemployed youths to undertake soil, forest, and water conservation projects on public lands all over the country...The exuberant youths heralded unprecedented opportunities to expand and develop American parks at every level."
While most of the CCC man are gone, the trails in the Canyon area are great examples of their legacy today. The interviews that are part of Mary's project are in the Oral History Collection in the Yellowstone archives. You can find information about the collection here.
As for the granola, it will feed hungry men and women headed off for work or play! Thanks for Mary and Gary for giving us the inspiration that fuels our guests daily.
Headwaters CCC Granola
I prepare this in fairly large quantities (double what is below) and it keeps well in a covered container. The quantity of ingredients is very flexible as long as the sugar mixture is adequate to coat the dry ingredients. While you may add dry fruit to the granola once it is cool, I prefer not too. We sometimes serve this with a variety of fresh berry toppings and with our homemade vanilla yogurt, but its a great everyday breakfast with milk or a trail snack as is.
I put this granola in coffee sacks decorated with stamps and embossing powder for Christmas. This, paired with a pound of our locally roasted coffee, made a great gift.
A word about the ingredients. I buy mine in BIG packages from Costco or my local Food Coop. Sometimes I can get unsalted, and sometimes I can't. If I can't, I don't add salt to the sugar mixture. Being the highly opinionated person that I am, I don't mix whole almonds and pecans, but you are free to! Both varieties are delicious.
The flax seed meal is a great substitute for recipes that call for flax seed. I got sick of all those little seeds sticking in my teeth so I used meal instead. No difference in taste, all the omega3 and none of the irritation. If you can get unsweetened coconut, it definitely tastes better. Since I live in the middle of nowhere it can be hard to find. so I usually use the grocery store variety.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large heatproof bowl, combine:
Stir all this together with your hands until it is well mixed.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt together:
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cups dark molasses
- 1 cups honey
- 1 cups canola oil
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
Bring to a boil, then remove from heat, stir in:
Pour liquid over dry ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon and then spread in even layer on lightly greased sheet pans. (Don't overcrowd the pans.)
Bake for 1 hour, turning the mixture with a wooden spoon every 15 minutes or so until it is light brown and fragrant. Dump the mixture onto newspaper and allow to cool. Break it up with your hands and store it in a sealed container.
It should be noted that I made one of the biggest kitchen messes of all time while writing this post. The sugar mixture needs to be carefully watched when you are bringing it to a boil...or it will overflow and ruin your gas stove. (Don't blog and drive.)
* Our favorite cookies are Mrs. King's Irrestibles from Rose's Christmas Cookies by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Reduce the sugar if you use this granola, as it is sweetened.