The Shed and Crunchy Caramel Granola Clusters

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I was born and bred in LA and let’s just say, I’ve never been a fan of that city. I always longed for something more. Something substantial. Colorful. Seasonal. Authentic. New York City was the place I escaped to when I was of age and happily remained, on and off, for years. But when I found out I was pregnant with my son, the idea of going into labor and squeezing into the backseat of a dirty taxi cab to go to the hospital or traveling in the subways carrying a newborn in the middle of winter kinda did it for me. That was the first time LA seemed enticing. So we decided to temporally move out of our apartment in Brooklyn to LA, remain out there for the duration of my pregnancy and return with baby boy in the spring. But shortly after our son arrived, we came to the realization the concrete jungle was not what we wanted to go back to. We wanted nature, country, space to explore, animals, gardens, a quaint town…

Yes, as the cliche goes, having a child changes your life. Self involved thoughts evolve into firstly thinking about this little being you brought into this world and providing them with the best possible life to grow up in. The things you thought you wanted to pursue or the place you thought you wanted to be can surprisingly shift into a completely different arena. That arena sprouted into wanting to move somewhere in the country of Northern California.  We searched high and low for almost a year to find a community of like-minded folk – artisans, farmers, artists, chefs, down home small town goodness without the wine snobby shee shee poo poo or the country bumpkin hippie hee-haw.

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On one of our last trips exploring the Napa valley, we decided to stop over to get lunch in the small town of Healdsburg – located on the other side of the valley in Sonoma County. We had visited Healdsburg once before on our first trip exploring Sonoma. When we did, we stumbled upon this wonderful mecca of food and garden and house wear called The Shed. This place is filled with artisanal food happiness and a paradise for anyone passionate about modern country living. They have an abundant selection of beautifully handcrafted goods, a cafe menu of seasonal deliciousness, a larder equipt with divine local cheeses, bread, stone ground flours, heirloom beans, seasonal fruits, vegetables, honey, wine, prepared foods and on and on. Not to mention, everyone who works there are simply lovely and passionate about being there. The Shed made a lasting impression on both of us on that trip and we looked forward to returning.

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And when we returned to have lunch, those many months later, clarity washed over us as soon as we entered through there doors. This was it. We immediately knew that this little town, this modern grange, was the place we wanted to call home. The Shed, no doubt, heavily influenced our decision. It’s that kind of place. And now, living right down the street from it, it has become everything and more. It’s my kitchen away from home, grocer, ice cream fix and larder. We feel fortunate to be so close and to have had such a welcome reception from everyone we have met in and out. Thank you Shed for planting such solid roots and creating such a wonderful space to come and be and dine and shop and drink and mingle. And if any of you salty friends ever find yourselves in our neck of the woods, do yourselves a favor – pop on by to The Shed. You’ll be glad you did. Who knows, maybe we’ll end up being neighbors one day…

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Crunchy Caramel Granola Clusters
These clusters are everything you would want a wholesome crunchy granola to be. Seriously. I can’t stop digging into the jar and eat them. Eat straight, topped onto some yogurt, ice cream, fruit, what ever your fancy. So good. Had to share immediately.  A note on the sweeteners: I thought they would end up being too sweet but they seemed to balance out while baking so I think they are just right. But if you want it less sweet, leave out the maple syrup. Though I encourage you to try it first as it. So yummy.

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3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup quinoa flakes (optional)
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1 1/2 cup coconut chips
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine oats, quinoa flakes, sesame seeds, coconut chips, coconut sugar, sea salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt the coconut butter on a low flame then whisk in the brown rice syrup and maple syrup until incorporated into the coconut oil. Turn off flame and whisk in the vanilla extract. Pour the melted mixture into the bowl of oat mixture and mix around until everything is coated well.

On a rimmed baking sheet covered with a piece of parchment paper, spread the mixture in an even layer and bake for about 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.

Allow to cool on the baking sheet for at least 15 minutes as the granola will get crunchier as it cools. Break granola apart in clusters as big or as small as you desire. Then transfer to a large airtight container and store at room temperature for a good 2 weeks. Though I doubt it will last that long.

 

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