Made my first batch ever yesterday.

My go-to breakfast most mornings is cold cereal with fruit. I stick to as many “natural” cereals as possible. Organic brands. Low end of the sugar spectrum. The stuff can disappoint flavor-wise, and it’s not cheap. The granolas especially can turn out to be pretty pale and floury, and reliant mostly on sugar for taste.

A few mornings ago, as I emptied out a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Extra Thick Oats–five minutes in the microwave/good stuff–I stopped to read the thing and found a recipe for granola. Many were the ingredients, including ones that struck me as odd. Non-fat dry milk. Poppy and sunflower seeds. But I was planning to visit the BIG grocery store with the huge BRM selection, and decided to hunt down as many ingredients as possible and give homemade a try.

I left out sunflower seeds because not a fan. Added 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, 2 tsps cinnamon, and 1 tsp ground ginger. Dissolved 1 tsp kosher salt in the liquids before heating because baked things that don’t mention salt usually need at least some.

I used my biggest mixing bowl, the 4-quart yellow one from my ancient Pyrex 4-color collection. This recipe filled it almost to the top, and I had to take care while mixing so that stuff didn’t spill over the rim. I spread it out on one large cookie sheet, but after a half-hour realized that the layer was just too thick and shoveled some off on a smaller sheet. Baking time? About an hour, hour fifteen minutes. I overbrown everything because that’s how I like it, and I came pretty darn close to burning the stuff in the small sheet. But everything proved salvageable. I let it cool for a half-hour or so, then shoveled it into storage containers.

Verdict? I like it, but it’s an acquired taste. The browning helped. It’s not sweet–with only 1/2 cup honey, I should have realized it wouldn’t be. I could have doubled the cinnamon and ginger. Next time, I may try more additions–maple syrup, a little brown sugar. A tad more salt. Boiled cider. Vanilla. Right now, the overall flavor is grainy/toasty/nutty, like a bread or roll. I’d like to add a little dried fruitiness and yes, a touch more sweet. But it’s good as is, and I know what’s in it which is even better.

Serving size is about 1/3 cup, which seemed ridiculous until I remembered that I had munched on a scant handful over the course of baking and had to delay dinner because I felt too full to eat. So yes, 1/3 cup with a banana, milk or yogurt, and a few raisins thrown in make for a decent breakfast.

It’s a cloudy, cold Christmas Eve’s Eve here. Thursday’s storm gave us over an inch of rain but only a dusting of snow–the sump pump continues to pump on a regular basis, and the backyard is like a skating rink in spots. Dried lawn is coated with a layer of ice that crunches when I step on it.