Blackberry Granola with Wild Honey and Candied Fennel

20 Oct

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When in doubt, go with this simple rule: things that you find in a field together usually taste good.

Sure, that glowing, bold title up there probably looks fancy to you, what with its promises of wildness and foraging and adventure…and blackberries.  But don’t be fooled!  I didn’t do any of those things.  Except for the blackberries.  I did those.

What I did do was wake up roughly 500 mornings in a row, eat the same granola recipe over and over (not that it’s a bad one), and get bored.  Really bored.  For all the crazy, possibly/probably boneheaded stuff I cook up on a regular basis, even I tend to get too comfortable.  What’s easier than shoving a bunch of the same ingredients in a bowl, stirring it up, and turning it into granola?  Delicious granola, at that?

Nothing.

Which explains why I did that very same thing for months on end, and explains why I’m ready to switch up the program…to new granola!  With natural-sounding things in it!  And a douchy-sounding title you could easily imagine plastered across a Whole Foods display!

Hey, I never said being comfortable was a bad thing.

Here’s what you need:

Blackberry syrup:

  • 3 pints blackberries
  • ¼ cup + two tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ cup water

Candied fennel:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 fennel stalks

Granola:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup hulled sunflower seeds
  • 1 ¼ cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3/8 cup blackberry syrup
  • 3/8 cup wild honey (as opposed to tame, house-broken honey)
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup candied fennel

Here’s what you do:

First, make the blackberry syrup.

Get yourself a medium pot, add the blackberries, sugar, and water together, and stir while you bring it to a boil.

Turn it down to a simmer, and let it cook until everything’s become syrup; should take about half an hour.  Make sure you press down on the berries once in a while; that’ll help the berries break down faster and release the juices.  Also it feels good to crush things.  I recommend laughing manically while you do it.

Once all that’s become syrup, press it through a sieve to get all the chunks out, then put it in a jar and let it cool in the fridge while you make the fennel.

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Chop the fennel stalks on a bias (that means diagonally, people) into small slices.

Preheat your oven to 250.

Stir the sugar and water together in a small pan over medium-high heat until it’s dissolved.  Should take about 5 minutes.

Next, add in the fennel, turn it down to medium, and cook for another 3 minutes.  Take it off heat, let it sit for 15 minutes, then take the slices out of the syrup and put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  You can save the leftover syrup for some fancy drinks or something.

Bake the fennel for 30 minutes, stir them around a bit, then throw it in for 30 more minutes.  When it’s dry and sticky, you’re golden.

Let the fennel cool to room temperature, then coat the pieces with some more sugar.

Turn up the oven to 300.

Now the easy part: throw all the granola ingredients except for the fennel together in a big-ass bowl and stir.  It’s almost insultingly easy.

Spread the granola out in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Cook it for 15 minutes, stir, 15 more minutes, stir again, and 15 more minutes, and hey, you guessed it: stir again.

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Once you’ve hit the 45 minute mark, stir in the fennel slices, then bake for 15 more minutes.

Take the granola out, let it cool, then put it in your preferred granola-receptacle and smash the shit out of it with a wooden spoon so you have those nice granola-y sized pieces.  Then eat.

Smash some beats into your ears this week with the astral sounds of Sun Ra.  It’s Makeup:

Even I’ll admit that thematically, this week’s recipe just…ain’t that interesting.  I’ll bite the granola-coated bullet on that one.

But there’s a silver lining here.  This is one of those rare opportunities where I get to be completely self-serving and make you people (or hopefully most of you people) happy at the same time.   And when it comes down to it, that’s kind of the beauty of this whole industry, enterprise, whatever the hell you want to call what it is I’m doing here.

I mean, I certainly didn’t start doing this because I thought a soccer mom in Topeka was gonna comment on a pie recipe I made.  I did it because I was hungry, and I was bored, which I’m willing to bet is why most people do this kind of thing.  It’s awesome to have people read this, and even more awesome when they let me know it doesn’t suck, but that’s all just collateral damage standing between me and my plate.

Let’s make a deal: you keep reading, and I’ll keep eating.  Together we can be the great battleship of flavor and the barnacles that latch to the sides and eat plankton.  Perfectly symbiotic.

I’ll let you figure out which one of us is which.

See you next time.

Recipe partially thieved from here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/pb/recipes/candied-fennel-stalk-and-fennel-syrup/13611/

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