It began with the subtlest of signs. A hole in a paper bag from which plain flour poured when I was shifting things around to look for something. A perfect circle the size of a ten cent piece that I convinced myself was a tear. I cleaned up the mess, found what I needed and thought nothing more of it.
Then on another day, another hole……..this time in the wholemeal flour bag. And another pile of flour underneath to clean up. On the other side of the pantry, there were tiny holes nibbled into the bag of pepitas.
By tiny teeth!
It was then that we noticed the scattering of tiny black pellets. After all, when you’ve been busy scooting around on tiny feet and munching your way through a pantry full of food, nature will inevitably call and a trail will be left behind.
Feeling somewhat invaded and unclean, we set out the humane traps. They were not lured by the bread that we offered on the first two nights, not the sweet piece of dried coconut that we tried next. Predictably, it was the cheese that did it. Not the holey Swiss cheese that attracts cartoon mice, but a small piece of Grana Padano…….the expensive kind.
Once both the tiny furry terrorists were caught and released in the park down the road, Mum and I set about on our cleaning mission. It was a much needed push to spring clean the pantry. Old ingredients and those that were blessed by rodents were thrown out, shelves were wiped down, and glass jars were filled, labelled, and arranged in height order.
Ingredients that I had purchased and forgotten about were rediscovered. An afternoon of experimentation led to a rich, chocolatey granola, low enough in sugar to make it ok to eat chocolate in the morning. I used some unsweetened cocoa mass that was uncovered in the mouse hunt, and added rice syrup for a slight sweetness. You could do the same, or just use 70 or 80 % dark chocolate.
Chocolate, Cranberry and Pistachio Granola
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
80g dark chocolate (I used unsweetened cocoa mass + 2 tsp rice syrup)
2 tbsp cashew or macadamia nut butter
1 tbsp protein powder or milk powder (optional)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp coconut oil
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 160 C. Spread the coconut and sunflower seeds out on an oven tray and toast in the oven for 7-8 minutes, or until the coconut has turned a light brown. Spread the pistachios on a seperate tray and roast until they have gained a little colour- they may take a bit longer than the coconut and sunflower seeds. If making the nut butter from scratch, this is the time to roast those on a separate tray.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave in 20-30 second bursts (use a large bowl either way). If using cocoa mass, stir in the rice syrup well. While the chocolate is warm, add the coconut oil and nut butter, cinnamon and salt, and stir well.
Add the other ingredients and toss until they are all well coated in chocolate. Place the bowl in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
Remove from the fridge and crumble with your fingers. Store at room temperature for up to 3-4 weeks or in the fridge for longer. Eat with milk, nut milk, yoghurt or on it’s own!