I have been heavily nesting. Baby no. 4 is due next weekend, and somehow it only dawned on me on our return from Suffolk that the arrival was fairly imminent. My nesting has manifested itself by filling my freezer, which, for some, is quite a normal reaction. Usually people fill theirs with useful meals such as soup, stews, marinated chicken pieces and sauces, portioned out so that family lunch and dinner can continue with some nuance of normality despite newborn chaos.
Alas, my brain has officially gone on sabbatical, and I have been baking. The rationale, is that making a cake is quite time efficient and satisfying, and it does not require standing for long periods of time chopping vegetables and stirring which I am now findinga little tricky (I am no longer that svelte or agile). Basically, baking makes the heavily pregnant woman feel productive and capable. Denial is great isn't it?
My freezer is now at capacity with rolls of cookie dough ready to slice and bake at short notice, brownies, loaf cakes, bundt cakes, galette dough and crumble topping. So in those first few weeks when friends and family pop in for a cup of tea and a visit, I will obviously have something to feed them. Right? Well, yes. But is it really necessary with a plethora of artisan bakeries in the vicinity? And now, while all those other families will be eating nutritious meals, my family will be eating pesto pasta. Like I said, my brain is elsewhere.
I have, however, also been making granola. And it can be kept in the cupboard, reserving freezer space for, um, cake. It makes a delicious instant breakfast (helpful over the holidays), and is a great snack for days out (and the hospital bag).
I call this "make your own granola" as there are infinite ingredient possibilities. I use nuts, seeds, coconut and dried sour cherries (I am quite obsessed by them). Feel free to add whatever combo you like. If you want to recreate the wonderful waft of a Scandinavian cinnamon bun, you could also use cardamon (replacing the coconut oil with olive oil). Or incorporate a variety of flakes with the oats such as spelt or barley. I prefer honey as the sweetener as I think it makes it crispier, but you could use agave or maple syrup (I have yet to understand the real difference between all the sweeteners). I encourage you to experiment and play, and use this as a springboard to make your own favourite flavour.
Please let me know your go-to combination!
75g (3/4 cup) whole raw almonds with skin
75g (3/4 cup) whole pecans (or cashews, or both!)
50g (1/4 cup) unsweetened desicated coconut
50g (1/4 cup) each sunflower and pumpkin seeds
300g (3 cups) jumbo oats
1 tsp ground cinnamon
180ml (3/4 cup) honey
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g dried apricots (roughly chopped)
100g dried sour cherries
Preheat oven to 140C (275F)
Line a large baking sheet (or two smaller ones) with baking parchment
Combine all dry ingredients apart from dried fruit and mix
In a small saucepan melt together honey and coconut oil until melted together. Add vanilla extract and stir
Pour melted honey and oil mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until coated
Pour mixture onto lined sheet(s) so that the mixture is in one layer no more than 1cm high (this will ensure cripsy granola)
Bake for 45-60 minutes, stirring and rotating every 15 minutes, until golden
Add cherries and apricots immediately and allow to cool completely on the tray. The granola will crisp up as it cools so don't worry if it seems soft when you take it out of the oven.
Store in an airtight container for upto a month (it won't last that long!)