I will shortly be on a train bound for Ocean City! Well, the train actually goes to Atlantic City, but that's just a pit stop on the way to my favorite place on earth :) Sun, sand, surf, family, good food, and a few good books? Sounds like the perfect holiday weekend to me (except for the fact that Nick isn't coming, so I guess I should say the almost perfect holiday weekend). Anyway, what does this have to do with cooking and recipes? My impending train trip got me thinking about the trip I took last month to Maryland to visit some dear friends from high school. For that trip, I was travelling on two trains and then renting a car. Now anyone who knows me knows that I can get pretty cranky when I'm hungry, so I wanted to pack some sort of yummy snack to have while in transit. I needed something to tide me over in between being able to find some real food. The day before I started packing, I had made a recipe for Cherry Lime Granola from Everyday Food Magazine to have for breakfast. So on a whim, I decided the leftovers would be packed into a few small containers and tucked into my bag wherever they fit. The granola is delicious, filling, and portable so it really did make the perfect train food. Filled with nuts, fruit, and oats it was even decently healthy (better than the chips and candy bars you could buy at the train station anyway). I even had a container left-over to eat for breakfast on the last day of my trip. My friend Sam thought it sounded yummy too and she just recently asked for the recipe. So I was thinking it would be a good one to share with everybody. When I made it, I used walnuts instead of almonds because I didn't have any almonds. I think it would be good either way, so use whatever kind of nut you like best.
One tip to keep in mind - DO NOT OVERCOOK IT. If you've ever eaten store-bought granola, you know that it is typically dry and crunchy, as it should be. I've made various recipes over the years and expecting my own granola to be dry and crunchy, I've made the mistake of overcooking it more than once. What can be confusing is that when you check the pan after the time the recipe calls for, it will likely be sticky and still seem kind of "wet." This always made me think it wasn't ready yet and I would keep adding minutes to my timer, waiting for the granola to achieve the right texture. The additional time in the oven, did not make my granola any crunchier, it just made the nuts burn which trust me, is not so tasty. Just make sure that the granola has reached that lightly golden color the recipe calls for and it should be ready to take out of the oven. Let it cool completely, and when it does, that stickiness should go away. Wait until it is completely cooled to pack it into a container or else the trapped heat could make it soggy. Following these tips I learned the hard way, this most recent granola recipe was finally a success.