Ever since I remember, I have loved being in the kitchen. In the beginning, the smell of onions sauteing in butter when Mom made dinner was enough to lure me in, but soon I realized that I, too, could make magic happen there. I would go to Grandma's and make lemon meringue pie or macaroni and cheese and there I learned that sometimes you have to trust your own instincts over the measuring cups. Soon I was adding my own twists to Mom's chocolate chip cookies and K-Bars (more about those another time).
Mom's simple brilliance got me started and Grandma's nonconformity stimulated my creative tendencies, but it was Momma James who opened the door to the endless possibilities of cooking from scratch. Before Momma James, I thought that pie crust was only for looks and good bread could only be bought from a bakery. She taught me that if you see it at the store, you can always make it better at home.
But who is Momma James?
Well, technically she is my friend Kez's mom, but I would consider Momma James my friend almost as much as Kez is. We share an indefinable bond that simply cannot be explained. Suffice it to say that we both love each other and we both love food.
It was Momma James who gave me the original recipe for my granola. Of course, I never follow it, but it is the vital foundation of all of my variations.
Maple Nut Granola
3 cups oats
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup (I sadly didn't have any so I used the fake pancake syrup plus a couple teaspoons of maple flavoring)
1/4 Cup olive oil
3/4 t salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and spread on a baking sheet.
Bake at 250º for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.