Lately, it’s hot and sticky, and the last thing I want to do is crank the oven. As much as I’d love to make muffins or a big batch of granola, the thought of all that heat is just too much. So as I was washing up the slow-cooker from cooking for a client, I remembered how brilliant the cooker can be for replacing the oven. Sometimes we cooks get set in our ways. So I made Maple Almond Granola in the Slow Cooker.It sounds funny at first, using the slow cooker to bake. We think of it as a way to gently simmer things like stews or big batches of beans. But if you have one of the large, oval slow cookers with a clamp on lid, you have a kind of free-standing oven, that is remarkably self contained, energy-efficient, and easy to use.I’ve used mine to bake a cake, make free-form loaves of bread, even make pizza, so I’m no stranger to the versatility of the cooker. But I forget. You can make granola in the slow cooker.So when it’s hot out, as counter-intuitive as it seems, it’s time to get out the slow-cooker. Don’t stash it on a back shelf, waiting for stew season. For this granola, I just translated an old favorite into a crock ready format, and gave it an hour and a half of hands-off time. You can try this technique with other granola recipes as well. Because you want it to crisp, you just need to keep the lid ajar, but propping it open with a wooden spoon handle or chopstick.And now, I’ve got organic, homemade granola to adorn my smoothie bowls (follow me on instagram for pics) and snack on in between meals.Homemade is always better, and keeping the kitchen cool is the best!