People, my cabinets are an unholy disaster. And I don't mean that in a humblebraggy, Pinterest-y "Oh, my kitchen is so MESSY! Look at how crooked my Weck jars are on my sparkling clean refrigerator shelves!" kind of way. I'm talking about half-opened boxes and bags of every ingredient imaginable, shoved haphazardly into any available square inch of real estate. Pulling anything out is like a game of Cellophane Wraps and Cardboard Box Jenga. It's not cute. I mean, I do actually own Weck jars, purchased long ago with the intention of having a Pinterest-worthy pantry situation going on, but now they're shoved into the back of the hoarder's lair, probably surrounded by some spilled jasmine rice from that week in 2011 when I was very into trying to cook more exotic dinners, and then realized I had a kid who wouldn't eat anything but buttered noodles. Gah.
The situation kind of reached a new level of insanity after the holidays, though. With all the new recipe development I've had going on, plus holiday baking, the amount of edible odds and ends has multiplied at an alarming rate. Every time I step into the kitchen I get very Joan Crawford, flapping my arms and shouting things like, "I simply cannot WORK under these conditions!!" and then pouring myself a Weck jar full of vodka before retiring to my chaise lounge.
But as of today, I'm turning a corner. I'm turning a corner because I finally took the first step towards gaining control over my pantry. That mostly involved pulling out a large trash bag and tossing in so many expired and long-forgotten sundries that I was looking over my shoulder, waiting for Sally Struthers to appear and scold me for not thinking about THE CHILDREN, and chastising me for all the waste. It really was terrible, how many things that had to go into the compost. I'm not proud of that. But I am proud of the fact that I was able to inventory about a zillion little portions of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits of all sorts, quarter-cupfuls here and there, not enough of any one thing to make it a star in a recipe, but a perfect sort of hodge-podge of hippie morsels with which to make a dynamite homemade müesli.
This recipe--if you can even call it that, it's so dead simple--is perfect right now for several reasons. First, there's that aforementioned thing about using up all the little random handfuls of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits you might have left over from holiday recipes (these cookies I made a while back also serve as a fabulous canvas for that). Second, the resulting müesli is exactly the kind of thing you want to eat first thing in the morning now that you're still in the honeymoon phase of all those New Year's resolutions, bursting with health. Third, it gives me a chance to tell you about the book that inspired this recipe, a book that's been somewhere near my person for the better part of a year.
I've been thumbing through and cooking from Clodagh McKenna's Homemade for long enough to tell you that the recipes work, they're inventive, and the writing is totally irresistible. Clodagh's been called the "Irish Rachael Ray", and she certainly has the empire to show for it, but really it's Clodagh's writing and approach to food that's got me hooked. So much soul, so much sweetness to everything she does. Love love love her whole thing. And the girl makes something as simple and familiar as müesli just a little extra special by toasting the oats before tossing them with all the add-ins. Toasting! Oats! Why have I not been doing this my entire life?
I actually first had müesli on my honeymoon more than a decade (!!) ago, at a Caribbean resort that put out the kind of breakfast buffets that have you crying once you return home because you realize your actual breakfast life is so tragic. I've loved müesli ever since, and have made several homemade batches over the years, but Clodagh's step of toasting the oats really adds an awesome punch of flavor to the whole thing. I took it one step further and lightly salted my toasted oats, and that was a good decision, indeed. You can eat this stuff straight up with milk or yogurt like you would any granola, or soak it overnight in dairy milk or almond milk and have your breakfast all assembled and waiting for you in the morning. You could even heat up the soaked muesli if you like, but then we're getting into oatmeal territory and that's just not as fun to say as müesli. Oatmeal doesn't even have an umlaut! Forget about it.
Bonus points if you store it in a Weck jar!
Homemade Müesli Adapted from Clodagh McKenna's Homemade
Makes about 12 servings
The recipe in Clodagh's book uses 3/4 cup dried figs, 3/4 cup chopped dried apricots, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1 1/2 cups mixed nuts, and 1/3 cup each pumpkin and sunflower seeds. But since my müesli was an exercise in resourcefulness, I'm going to suggest general amounts of add-ins, and you can riff on it as you like.
If you're using raw nuts and seeds, you can toast them by stirring them into the oats for the second half of the baking time.
3 cups rolled oats Fine sea salt 2 cups chopped dried fruit (I used a combination of dates, cherries, cranberries, and apricots) 1 1/2 cups mixed nuts (I went for pistachios and walnuts) 2/3 cup seeds (pepitas and sunflower seeds worked for me)
Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 375°F. Dump the oats onto a rimmed baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Toast in the oven until fragrant and golden, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Lightly season the oats with a couple pinches of fine sea salt. Let the oats cool on the sheet pan. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Add the dried fruits, nuts, and seeds of your choice and toss to blend. Store in an airtight container.