Monday, February 9, 2015

Granola as Metaphor

My life's been a bit off balance this week. Several storms filled the New England sky and a couple corners of my heart off and on. It's hard to feel steady and certain during weeks like this one, and I never really got my momentum revved up and ready.  

Balance is important but kinda hard to come by sometimes.  A life of balance -  equal and opposite -  is one part action to every part reaction: work and play, dreaming and doing, achieving and aspiring. Life, I know, is equal parts struggle and splendor, and both even out in the end, if not necessarily in the moment.

To feel more grounded in the everyday and regular, I often seek the warmth of the kitchen. I find my footing there with my hands in the hot, soapy suds of the sink and the familiarity of flour and baking. Wooden spoons, measuring spoons, whisks, and my nesting mixing bowls both comfort and inspire. It is here I will remember what balance feels like.

Granola is good-for-you food that doesn't take itself too seriously.  A go-to of crunch and chew, sweet and salty, it satisfies more than one craving at once.  Like life,  you can toss a whole lot of anything and everything into the mix, and it all somehow turns out okay in the end.  See?  Balance.

My recipe is based on Alton Brown's from the Food Network.  You can find his recipe here.

Bake up some balance:  METAPHOR GRANOLA

                                                                                                 Preheat oven to 250

In a large mixing bowl, gather:

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup +2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

In a separate bowl, mix:

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (real) maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt

Combine the two mixtures.  It's going to take a bit of work to moisten all those dry ingredients, so I dump everything into the biggest bowl I can find.

Spoon onto two cookie sheets and spread into an even layer.  Bake for a little over an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so. 

Stirring gets a little messy - but then, so does life.  I used the biggest spatula I could find and faithfully flipped every 15 minutes or so - just enough time to get lots of little tasks done in between. Toss in a load of laundry, send an email, clean up the oatmeal you got all over the floor.  All doable in 15 minute chunks of time.  It's multitasking that smells so good.

After you take the granola from the oven,  let the browned loveliness cool while you take a nap.  When you wake up, return the granola to a large mixing bowl.  Add a couple cups of dried cranberries or raisins.  I also tucked in - by request - some tiny, dark chocolate chips.
I didn't measure because measuring chocolate is just silly.

Go ahead and marvel at your creation as you spoon it into jars for safekeeping.  The texture.  The playful pop of color.  The balance.

Peace, Barbara

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