lemon jelly

Simple Granola
July 16, 2008, 2:00 pm
Filed under: food, philosophy, recipes | Tags: , , , , ,

A couple of weekends ago, I made two bank-breaking purchases – an incredibly cute pair of heels and a food processor. Naturally, this led to a spate of bemoanings on my part about how I shouldn’t be spending so much money when there are arguably more important things like tuition and travel to consider. Keran, who was staying over at the time, had to put up with all of this, but she just rolled her eyes and told me bluntly that, though the shoes were definitely worth it, the food processor was completely unnecessary.

I protested, of course, pointing to my already mangled feet while enumerating on all of the wonderful things I planned to make with my new sexy, stainless-steel machine. However, she wasn’t very impressed with the possibilities of homemade hummus, nut butters, and various purees. Keran, dear though she is to me, just isn’t the type to bother with kitchen labours. She did make a memorable chicken curry for me once last fall, but you might say that our friendship has largely been built on meals at expensive restaurants and lamentations over boys. She appreciates great food but doesn’t see the (potentially) elaborate efforts behind it as worth her time.

I didn’t think much of our brief discussion at the time, but after considering how much went into our Friday-night dinner and the endless mounds of dishes I always seem to be scouring at, I began to ask myself why in fact I bother. I do spend a lot of time (at least during the summer months) in the kitchen, at the farmers’ market, and thinking about food. Maybe if I weren’t so intent on soups from scratch and interesting greens, I’d actually get around to reading things like that Adorno book I bought two years ago. Of course, I’d never really consider giving up on my kitchen adventures. It just took some thinking to say why.

What it comes down to is this: for me, at least, making food is in itself a worthwhile experience with its own rewards. I won’t deny that chopping vegetables is generally a torturous task, but there is something distinctly magical about how kitchen toils transform into something delicious. Maybe, at heart, I’m still five years old, or maybe, I just like to make my life more complicated than it need be, but I think that it’s quite possible that there’s something to appreciate in my painstaking, sometimes crazy culinary efforts. For me, the struggle is always part of the satisfaction. Food is a labour of love worth all the more because of the labour.

Of course, cooking isn’t for everyone, and sometimes, it just isn’t practical, affordable, or possible to do it all yourself. After all, I’m still happy to have someone else milk cows, make sourdough loaves, and ferment my tofu for me. Even so, I think that making some things yourself is worth a try, just once. Start with something simple, like granola. It’s hard to mess up and worth every bite.

Simple Granola

Adapted from The Tassajara Bread Book

Note: Granola is easy because you can make whatever substitutions you’d like as long as you abide by the ratios: 3 parts oats, 2 parts whatever else + 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 canola oil for every 5 cups of dry ingredients. I’ll eat this granola on its own, with some raisins or dried cranberries, with yogurt, with a little wheat germ for added nutrition, or added to whatever commercial cereal that happens to be lying around. It’s incredibly versatile stuff and so good. I suspect that substituting some of the honey with maple syrup (or just adding some in addition to the honey) would make for an even better granola, but I ran out of maple syrup recently and haven’t had the chance to try it.

  • 3 cups large-flake rolled oats (not the quick-cooking kind)
  • 1 cup chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts or some combination of these
  • 1 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add honey and oil, then mix until evenly coated.
  3. Spread mixture out in a thin layer on to a large, parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, stirring granola around at about the 20- and 35-minute marks for even browning.
  4. Let cool to room temperature and store in air-tight containers.

4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

You’re making granola! Dan must be having a field day. I respect the love of cooking: send him my way if he gets out of hand.

Comment by bitpart

Yes, vegetarianism has turned me into an unapologetic hippie =P

Comment by Katie

Actually the pasta sauce I made at Martin’s to go with the ravioli turned out exceptionally tasty, probably due to the hard, hard toil beforehand (compared to just heating up premade sauce). Summer’s a good time for cooking I suppose. Perhaps I’ll give some (quicker) recipes a try when I’m back in August.

Comment by Keran

Yeah, we should cook together next month. Collaborative efforts make for much more satisfying meals in my experience ;)
What was in your sauce, by the way?

Comment by Katie

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