First, I would like to thank GG and JD for such lovely comments. They were very appreciated. You are both much too kind!
My pantry is very full, and keeps getting fuller with every load that comes out of the canner. We also shop sales and stock up on items we use when the sales are good. I couldn't get the full shelf in from where I stood, so you are missing the bottom shelf - where all the maple syrup, juices and other beverages are stored. I am slowly replacing store bought items with home canned. I want to limit my dependence on store items as much as possible.
This morning was another cold morning, and the house boasted a chilly 61°F. As tempting as it was to turn the heat on, we didn't. Instead, I made a double batch of granola which warmed the house up some. Pulling up the blinds on the south side of the house helped with the rest. The sun felt so nice and the dog appreciated it as well. He followed the sun spot on the floor all across the living room. It's going to just about kill me to turn on the furnace this year. With the prices the way they are, I so wish our outdoor boiler was in working order. DH says he thinks he can fix it - but then we need to still get wood. It'll be fun getting wood in the snow :) I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it can be fixed.
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
5 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup dried milk
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
Other on-hand ingredients ie: nuts, dried fruits, coconut, seeds, etc.
Place oatmeal in a 9" x 13" pan. Sprinkle evenly with dried milk, then salt. At this point, I usually will sprinkle 2 Tbs. flax seed meal, an even coating of each: coconut, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chopped walnuts or pecans.** Leave the raisins out until later.
After you are satisfied with with the ingredients in your cake pan, set aside. Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix the oil, brown sugar, and honey in a small saucepan and heat until the ingredients combine. It will seem like the oil and sugar won't mix, but once it starts boiling, you will see a change - everything combines. Take off heat and pour over ingredients in cake pan. Mix well. Bake for 7 minutes, stir, then bake for another five, stir, then put back in for another 5 minutes. By now, the ingredients should be a bit browned and the syrup has been incorporated evenly.
Take from the oven and cool - mixing while cooling to prevent items from staying in one huge clump.
**Note: If I'm putting in raisins, I usually add about an equal amount of dates. If I'm using another dried fruit or berry, I'll leave out the raisins sometimes. There really is no recipe of what to add after the first four cereal ingredients - it's usually whatever I have on hand and what I think may taste good together. I like to put in as many seeds as possible, because the seeds have a powerhouse of good vitamins and minerals in them.
We have been making this granola for a good year now, tweaking it as we go - experimenting with different combinations and ingredients. Today I made our normal raisin, date and pecan granola and in the second pan I made a cherry granola which used our own dehydrated sweet cherries. The cherries were a bit of a disappointment, as they didn't have the flavor we get from dehydrating sour cherries. It was still good, but not as good as it could be. I will be making note of this.