Cooking and baking were not skills I was born with. (Ask my parents and sister about the first meal I cooked for them when I moved out on my own. It was, let's say, not a success.) I started to cook more when I was in graduate school and lived with my best friend, since there was someone else to eat the food besides me. Over time, my skills developed until I was more than proficient in the kitchen.
I didn't realize, however, until I started to do more research about our food system and what I was putting in my body, that I was relying too much on processed foods for things I could easily make at home for less money and better quality.
Much is made now of the DIY movement in foods - to make things at home like bread, yogurt, cheese, etc. And that's very valuable (not to mention delicious). But if the thought of making cheese at home gives you a nervous twitch, start small. My favorite homemade granola recipe couldn't be more simple. I love to eat it as cereal with raw milk or put it in yogurt for a snack.
This recipe makes about 12 half-cup servings, depending on how much you add in the way of fruit and nuts.
3 cups uncooked quick oats
2 cups puffed rice cereal
6 Tbs. honey
1 tsp. canola oil
1/4 cup apple juice
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. slivered or chopped nuts (I love almonds and pecans)
1/2 c. dried fruit (I love cranberries, raisins and sour cherries)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix uncooked oats and puffed rice cereal together and spread on a non-stick baking sheet with sides; bake for 10 minutes, stirring once.
Meanwhile, whisk honey, oil, apple juice, spices and vanilla together. When oats and puffed rice are done, spoon into a large bowl; set pan aside. Add nuts to cereal mixture and stir to combine. Pour honey-spice mixture over cereal mixture and mix thoroughly to distribute and coat completely; spread mixture back over pan.
Return pan to oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, stirring every 5 minutes. (Note: Be careful that granola doesn't burn - especially cereal along sides of pan.)
Remove from oven and cool. Spoon into bowl and stir in fruit.
Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers (of all places). Probably the only WW recipe I encountered during my brief stint with it in grad school that I still make today!