Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Perfect Granola

I'm coming back.

I defended my master's thesis last week.  I passed.

There are four assignments left between now and graduation.  Two are almost complete.  Procrastination has set in, hard.

When I walked out of my presentation room, away from my committee, I didn't want to celebrate.  I wanted to wash dishes.  I wanted to catch up on favorite blogs.  I wanted to sit in my house, in my happy pants, with nowhere to go, nothing to do.  I wanted to just soak it in.  Also, I was zonkered.  Despite feeling like I've dealt with the pressure and stress relatively well this semester, my resources have been drained.

And as I come back to the rest of life, as I find my footing and figure out next steps, all I want to do is be with beauty.  I've been going to yoga classes regularly again; as I sweat and open up, I feel a lot of the gunk leaving me, permitting, each time, just a little more openness for clarity to seep in.  I've been helping my mother with their house design--we've been working on this project together for over a year.  How sweet it is to exchange daily e-mails and texts with my beloved mother, sharing ideas, making decisions, seeing progress toward something beautiful.  I've been cleaning out my gardens from last year's growth, getting dirty and sweaty and building a glow that only working the dirt can bring.  I've been spending more time just sitting, not feeling guilty about what I should be doing that I'm not.  And I've been cooking.  We've been eating well.

What I've learned in the past is the first few weeks of rest after a busy period are the sweetest--they are the most treasured, because the memory of the busy-ness is so fresh, creating a clear contrast, making the practice of gratitude simple.  Some days I feel anxiety about an unknown future, but then I remember this time is a gift, and just as I don't believe in saying, "You shouldn't have" and "This is too much" when somebody gives me a thoughtful present, I'm choosing now, in the face of this unscheduled, unsure time, to simply say, "Thank you."  These days have been replenishing.

Also, I learned to make the perfect granola.

The simplicity of this recipe, the wholesomeness and the requirement that I be at home for an hour and a half to make it are perfectly representative of the past week.

For many years, I tried to make granola healthier.  I'd reduce the oil, reduce the sugar, add flax seed and oat bran, play with strange combinations and flavors.  But here, this week, I decided to just let go.  Let go of the shoulds and should nots.  Let go of the need for granola to be something other than what it is.  Is this granola energy dense?  I'm sure.  Is it unique and creative?  Not really.  But this week, it doesn't matter.  It feels good to me and because of that, it feels right.  I hope you love it, too.

Classic Granola
adapted from Alton Brown.  If you're curious about adding cashews or you'd like it just a tinge sweeter, please visit his recipe--it's lovely.

Preheat oven to 250°. 

Into a large mixing bowl, place:

3 c. thick rolled oats
2 c. slivered almonds (skins on, preferably)
3/4 c. sweetened shredded coconut
3/4 t. salt
3 T. dark brown sugar
6 T. maple syrup
1/4 c. vegetable oil

Mix this all together until the dry ingredients look coated.  I like to do this by scooping from the outside of the bowl to the center while turning the bowl, but however you can get there, do.

Spread this mixture onto two baking sheets, thinly to encourage even crisping.

Bake the granola for an hour and fifteen minutes, removing from the oven every fifteen minutes or so to stir, allowing the granola to brown evenly.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a bit, then stir in:

1 c. raisins

Store this in an airtight container.  It should last for quite awhile, at least a few weeks.


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