I am very excited!  My neighbour Anna has finally parted with her secret granola recipe after about six months of me trying to weasel it out of her.  Anna was the one of the first people I met when we moved from New Zealand to New Jersey last year. We bonded instantly over pina coladas (ready-made box mix but who's judging?), a shared love of books and had 5 year old sons in common.

Those who know Anna well, will agree that while she has many gorgeous qualities, culinary talent is just not one of them. She will be the witty, effervescent guest at your dinner party, just not the chef!  Anna's philosophy on food and cooking:  'You only need to know how to cook one or two dishes really well and everyone will be fooled...'.  This granola is one of those dishes (and actually I have had a few of her other specialties and they are all VERY good - Cola Cake and Artichoke Dip to name a few).

After tasting her granola, many people could  be forgiven for thinking she is this amazing earth mother-type, yoga following, health fanatic. Meanwhile, the reality is, she eats this AND Lucky Charms with equal abandon. Now, had Anna had more time, she would have written this post herself... but alas, she has been too busy cooking it for sick friends and new Moms because that's the amazing type of woman she is. This recipe makes enough to keep a family going for a good couple of weeks and also makes a great weekend gift for hostesses.  

Anna's Granola
(Makes 2 cookie trays worth)

12 cups Oats or 1 large container of old fashioned (not quick cook ones)
1 cup canola or vegetable oil - measure this first so honey and syrup (coming next!) will slip out easily
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
Any nuts/seed you like - 3/4 to a cup of each:  Walnuts, almonds, pepitas, sunflower seeds
1 - 1/2 cups dried fruit..apricots, sugared pineapple, raisins, craisins, figs or mixed dried fruit diced into small pieces.

Pre-heat oven 250 F (Regular Bake)
Spray 2 cookie trays with cooking spray or non stick oil.Mix all ingredients [except fruit]* together in a VERY large bowl (or lobster pot if that's your largest receptacle, as Anna does) and spread out onto greased cookie trays with wooden spoon that has also been sprayed with cooking oil. Set oven timer for 20 minute intervals and bake, rotating trays periodically. Cook for approx.1hr 10 mins in total or until golden.  

*NOTE: You MUST add fruit AFTER cooking otherwise you'll end up with nasty charred leather, that not even vaguely resembles dried fruit!

Let cool in trays and then spoon into jars, bags etc.

PS If anyone reading this with kids in Anna's son's class even thinks about copying her and giving this as a teacher gift, she will hunt them down...!