Saturday, August 12, 2006

ode to granola

You start, of course, with a giant bowl of oats.

I don't mean "quick cook" oats, either. Those worthless flakes pose no challenge to teeth; they offer no satisfaction. Regular oats. Giant bowl.

In a just-big-enough pan, you then heat together a bit of oil and honey. The oil -- in my opinion -- should be olive, because it's so good for you. And as long as I'm being bossy, I suggest you go out and get yourself a bee hive and do the honey right. But if you can't do that ... say, you live on the third floor of an apartment complex with no balcony ... then find yourself some good local honey. It's better all the way around. It's not been cooked to death so as to kill off all the local pollen and antigens.

You then stir those together with your favorite wooden spoon -- the one that's been darkened by a hundred batches of brownies, stew, and caramel corn. That spoon knows its way around a pot. While this mixture is heating, you go a little crazy with the spices. You toss in a generous heap of cinnamon, because you know that's the spice that will circle the house first. Clove is good. And naturally, you'll want a good pinch or three of nutmeg, because there's not a spice in the world as mysterious as nutmeg. It's the one that adds interest to the project ... and you know that.

When the whole spicy concoction is just warm enough, you pour it over the mass of oats and stir till every flake is coated. And then you divide the whole pile onto two baking sheets -- again, the ugly ones, the stoneware slabs you've seasoned up with a lot of good cooking.

While the oats get a head start in the oven, you pull the nuts down from the cupboard and set to chopping. Not too fine. Maybe on this day you feel like biting into a mixture of hazelnuts, pecans and sunflower seeds. So you chop the choppables and toss in the tiny seeds and when you feel the oats have waited long enough, you open the oven door again and add it all together.

Ten minutes pass. Twelve. The cinnamon finds its way through invisible portals in the oven and rushes past you in a teasing stream. You catch a hint of nutmeg, a whiff of toasting hazelnut. People began appearing from corners of the house, sniffing and looking at you expectantly.

When you all can't stand it anymore, you flip the oven light on and hunker down together to peek in the window. It looks good. It smells unbelievable. And at just the right moment -- when the oats and the nuts and the honey and spices have reached the watched-for shade of gold -- you don oven mitts and pull those sheets out. And then, because you're making a perfect batch of granola and it wouldn't be perfect without them, you sprinkle handful after handful of dried cranberries and raisins over those baking sheets. You stir carefully while someone else grabs bowls and yogurt and milk.

And then, while you're tasting that first warm, spicy mouthful of earthy goodness, you turn your back to the east-facing windows, where a sliver of sunshine has fought its way through the clouds, and you look instead out the west windows. You train your eyes on the curtain of gray over the tops of the evergreens, and you convince yourself it's not an August morning, but a cold day in October -- with falling leaves, and a warm fire, and a candle on the mantle.

That's the power of granola.


11 Comment:

At 8/12/2006 11:25 AM, Blogger Fran had this to say ...

Great, now I'm hungry! Good thing there are Parmesan/Garlic breadsticks in the oven. Of course, now I want granola...

At 8/12/2006 8:07 PM, Blogger Maxine had this to say ...

Oh my goodness. That sounds WONDERFUL! And I thought I didn't like granola that much. Well, now I am going to try to make some. But not now--I'm waiting until October. Blessings to you!

At 8/13/2006 12:50 PM, Blogger Heather Ivester had this to say ...

Oh, you make granola sound so delicious! We eat warm oatmeal a couple of times a week for breakfast, but now I'm going to keep your recipe in mind and try something new. Too bad we don't have any beehives in our backyard.

I have to tell you I'm glad I found your blog! I'm a city girl living in the country, and right now I want to get back to the city! You have such a peace and contentment -- maybe God has some lessons for me to learn here. I'm going to go add you to my Bloglines right now! :)

At 8/13/2006 3:49 PM, Anonymous Linda had this to say ...

... mmm ... will give it a try!

At 8/14/2006 3:20 PM, Blogger Meagan had this to say ...

My mouth is watering and I am completely inspired. You have SUCH a way with words - thank you for sharing!


At 8/15/2006 6:43 PM, Blogger Dianne had this to say ...

Yum, I've been dying to make my own granola for a few weeks now and this motivates me even more. Love your blog.

At 8/16/2006 4:12 PM, Blogger Macromoments had this to say ...

Shannon, you are such an earth momma. The process of making granola sounds as delicious as the granola itself.

Is this a family recipe or did you just learn it by adding a bit of this and a bit of that? I liked all but the beehive part. Bees hate me.

It's nice to stop by. I haven't had time to indulge in a long time. Your writing is like music!

At 8/17/2006 5:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

I was surfing the CWO ring and thought I would visit while my daughter is getting ready for her appointment to get her new braces...I am glad I did. I have never been satisfied with store bought granola...yours sounds fabulous..thanks.

At 8/17/2006 9:11 AM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

See now, Fran, your parmesan bread sounds even better to me. I'll have to get that recipe from you!

Hi Maxine! When October rolls around and you make a batch, let me know what you think. :)

A city girl living in the country ... Heather, sounds like you should be writing a book. :) Thanks for the visit--and thanks for adding me to your bloglines!

Let me know how it turns out, Linda.

Hi Meagan! Thanks for the visit. :)

Thanks Dianne. :)

Earth momma ... I like that, Bonnie! No, this isn't a family recipe. I found a basic recipe in a cookbook and then experimented with spices and nuts. I'm also working to decrease the oil a bit, although I like it best with a bunch. :) Here's what I use: 6 cups regular oats, 4 cups of a mixture of nuts and dried fruit (although I don't put the dried fruit in until the very end), 1 cup honey, 2/3-1 cup olive oil, about 1 TBSP cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cloves, and several pinches of nutmeg. Pumpkin spice works well, too.

I haven't been surfing at all (I barely have blogging time) but I've thought of you several times. I finally planted the last of your books. I could have dropped them all immediately, but I kept waiting for "good" places, you know? I ended up leaving one at the Department of Licensing, one at a hotel at Ocean Shores, one at a coffee shop, and one at a friend's house for her daughter to find. That last one might have been cheating. :)

Hi Sissy! Glad you happened by. :)

At 8/17/2006 11:51 PM, Blogger Fran had this to say ...

If you beat some egg whites and mix those into the oats right before you bake them your granola will be crunchy even without oil. I made a batch with no added oil at all, only egg whites and it turned out very crunchy like I like it. I do like a little oil though just to give it that full flavor and mouth feel. You just don't get the full flavor without the oil!

At 8/18/2006 6:26 AM, Blogger Sandy T. had this to say ...

MMMMMMM!!!!! Those sound so delicious! I am really hungry too! Of course those are definitely out of the question because I am on Weight Watchers. I'll have to only dream about them! Enjoy!


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