The older kids are off to school and the house holds just the 4-year old and myself. I look at my To-Do list…at least 143 items long. Where do I even begin? I hadn’t taken the time on Monday to organize the list into more manageable bits and now here it is mid-week…”sigh.” My mind wanders to a recipe, darling Shannalee recently posted on her poignant blog, Food Loves Writing. Olive Oil Granola. Ever since my daughter made homemade granola last summer, I have been intrigued with making my own “cereal”…so to speak. Hers was so delicious and easy to make, it now seems silly to buy it. When I saw Shannalee’s recipe, I knew I had to try it out as well.
When I feel overwhelmed by the tasks of life, I simply check out from them. I procrastinate. And, usually when I’m procrastinating, you’ll find me cooking. So, instead of checking anything off my list, I hauled out the humble ingredients for the granola. I mixed them together and popped it all in the oven. Then, I called over to my littlest one who was quietly drawing at the kitchen table. “Let’s go outside and check out the birds.” Ever since my daughter studied birds in 6th grade and we hung some feeders to attract the winged-critters for her observation, I have become a bird watcher. I get a thrill out of watching the flocks of chickadees land in our branches. The red-crested woodpecker poke-poke-poking his beak into the suet. What exactly does that say about me…my bird watching that is…and should I be admitting it?”
So, there we sat, side-by-side, on the front porch gazing across the way at the birds. Enjoying the cherry blossoms and the wave of daffodils the deer have fortunately left alone. (Yes, the daffodils resulting from my crazy bulb planting last fall.) He in his Star Wars jammies and me in my
jammies exercise clothes. The rich smells of cinnamon and cardamom wafting out through the door left ajar. I glance at his profile. No longer the toddler he once was. Those plump round cheeks are giving way to a more defined look. He says to me, “Do I get to go to school today?” “No, sweetie, not today.” “I like school.” “I know.” We can feel it. The time is coming. Time for him to start elementary school. And, after 13 straight year of having a little buddy by my side, it’s time for me to move onto the next stage. But, it’s okay to want to hold onto this one a little longer, isn’t it? I kiss the top of his head and go in to stir the granola. He follows behind me.
A wise friend of mind once said that life is but a series of stages. She always seems so at peace with the passing of each stage and the introduction into each new one. I know that it’s time. Time for what life brings me next but when you’ve been in one stage for so long it can be a bit daunting…wondering what’s next. We carry little bowls of the sinfully delicious granola back outside. Fragrant and chewy but with a hint of crunch from the nuts. We sit down on the front steps just in time to see a squirrel making away with an entire suet block almost twice his size. “So, that’s who’s been clipping the rope to the feeder and making away with the food.” And, I thought it had been the crows. We continue to sit there. Side-by-side. He and I. My littlest one and me. Watching the squirrel’s progress. And, I try to be in the moment. Enjoying my procrastination, my little buddy…and every bit of my homemade granola.
Olive Oil Granola
Inspired by Shannalee and originally published in the New York Times
I love this granola. So, did all of my kids….well, except for the one allergic to nuts for obvious reasons. We mixed it with plain yogurt, drizzled with honey and topped with sliced bananas. I used the yogurt/granola mix as a dip for sliced apples for snack one day. We ate it straight out of hand. But probably the best way that my daughter and I enjoyed this granola was sprinkled over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The bits of salt and spice mixed with the smooth, creamy vanilla…unbelievable. I think you need to go make this right now. Go ahead. Get going. And, let me know if you agree…about the granola and ice cream that is.
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped, slivered almonds
1 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 cup chopped, dried apricots (I would use raisins next time. Just my personal preference.)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except apricots. (If using raisins, I would add them to the bowl at this point.) Mix to combine. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer. You can spread the mixture on top of parchment paper or a Silpat to make clean-up easier. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes of so, until golden brown and well toasted.
Transfer granola to a large bowl and add apricots, tossing to combine. Enjoy.
Yield: About 9 cups.
All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2010