The first time someone labeled me as “granola” I wasn’t quite sure if it was a compliment. But upon self-examination, I realized I am a down-to-earth, straight-shooter who loves nature. I’m a no-frills kind of gal; what you see is what you get. That’s who I want to be. Life is too short for airs and way too short for packaged cereals full of preservatives.
Call me crazy, but I get joy just looking at my jar of homemade granola on the top shelf in the pantry. It greets me in the morning like an old friend. Whether sprinkled on Greek yogurt, or atop hot oatmeal, morning granola with fresh fruit guarantees a wholesome start to the day. When it gets down to crumbs I get fidgety. There is something about keeping the jar full; with all of the ingredients showing through the glass. I am comforted by the sight of hearty oats comingling with moist raisins, slender olive-colored pumpkin seeds, half their size sunflower seeds, pecan bits, chopped almonds, flakes of coconut and dried cranberries. A full jar seems to say all is well in the world. Never growing stale, it’s simply available, like that good old pair of comfortable jeans. Just knowing it’s there makes me content.
The recipe is super simple. Six minutes total cooking time and voila, a batch of hearty goodness. Oh, but what a shame to keep it all to myself! For years I’ve been dubbed as The Granola Girl, the one who collects large mason jars, fills them with granola, and presents them as hostess gifts, birthdays or just-because.
The longer I live, the more I realize that most well-intentioned gifts end up re-gifted or in garage sales. Everyone, however, needs to eat breakfast, so I figure granola is the ideal gift (and if the receiver wants a refill, I tell them to simply return the jar!)
There’s Jeni who has a PhD in nutrition. She leads an altruistic busy life, heavily involved in social issues and equal rights. Right now Jeni is in the final stages of marketing a toilet for dogs which can be installed in high rise apartments or the homes of disabled people. Jeni despises cooking and eats take out from farm to table restaurants or Whole Foods every day. Her suitcase is always packed for international travel with room for a large Ziploc bag of Mary’s Granola. Jeni emails pictures of herself eating the granola from London, Tokyo, and Paris.
Then there’s Miss Ruby, my 82-year old neighbor who lost her husband six years ago. She rattles around in the home they shared, reminders of him everywhere. His voice, still on the answering machine, the pictures he painted adorning her walls, and a rock he loved perched next to his photograph on her desk. I met Miss Ruby one sunny day while walking my dog. She was sitting on the far side of a neighborhood bench lingering over her mail, enjoying the warmth of the afternoon autumn sun. “My husband bought this bench and chose this spot. I pretend he’s here next to me. Come, sit and visit a while.” We chatted and eventually I asked her if she liked granola. Her eyes lit up and I told her to wait right there; I would be back. Now every few weeks I find her empty container delivered on my doorstep.
Finally, there’s CJ, my newest granola buddy. She and I share a classroom of 7th grade girls. CJ is the veteran English teacher and I am the newcomer to the school. We spend an inordinate amount of time together planning, sharing one room, and respecting one another’s styles. Her two sons, with bottomless appetites, are in high school. Just when the dinner dishes are done and she is beginning to grade papers, they are famished again. On the first day of school I presented a large canister of granola on her desk with a note: Here’s to a healthy year together. Though I’ve never met her husband, she tells me he loves it and to keep it coming.
I write about granola because my six-minute recipe has fortified all kinds of people. Life is way too short for airs. What you and I need are preserved friendships!
The Granola Recipe
In pyrex measuring cup, mix:
- ¼ C. honey
- ¼ C. sunflower oil (vegetable oil will work)
- ¼ C. brown sugar
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
Cook on HIGH for 2 minutes in microwave. When done, add 1 tsp. vanilla* (it will sizzle!)
Meanwhile, in large microwave safe bowl, mix:
- 3 C. regular oats (not quick oats)
- ½ C. shredded or shaved unsweetened coconut
- Chopped almonds to taste
- chopped pecans to taste
- Pumpkin seeds to taste
- Sunflower seeds to taste
Stir oil, honey, brown sugar concoction into oat mixture. Microwave** on high for 2 minutes.
Stir. Microwave on high for 2 more minutes. Stir. Add dried fruit: raisins, cranberry raisins + any dried fruit of choice.
Stir and break apart as it cools. Store in air-tight container.
Yum – you’re done!
*make your own vanilla (super easy! vanilla beans and vodka – let sit for six weeks – makes the recipe extra wonderful!)
**Microwave times may vary based on WATTS