The house needs to be packed up, but we can't pack it up much more because we're living in it. Students are still having crises. Our summer vacation plans, meager as they were, have been blown up bit by bit by other commitments: to family reunions, to orientation at my son's new school, to work responsibilities that have cropped up in the middle of July and August that require me to be there when I thought I'd get a week off. My commute, long though it may be now, when shortened will no longer take me past the fields of horses and cows and alpacas I've grown to love. It's been a long, long time since we took more than a few days' vacation, and it's starting to wear on me.
Mel posted about craving this morning, about how it's not about the food we want but about the experience connected to the food that we're trying to recreate. In my case, though, I disagree: I think it's purely chemical. Sometimes I crave chocolate cake, and in my more desperate endorphin-seeking moments I make chocolate mug cake. It's not beautiful, but it serves the purpose.
I've also, oddly, been craving granola. I used to make cranberry ginger granola, mostly in the winter for Christmas, but two years ago my blogger friend Ilene opened her store Hippie Chick Granola Co., and I rarely bother to make my own any more, because hers was even better, even if I did have to ship it from North Carolina. Besides, I like supporting a small woman-owned business. And I wanted to order some the other night, but Ilene was in Raleigh pitching to Shark Tank, and even if she were at her ovens in Oak Island, I couldn't get it fast enough.
Kimberly, the baker at my beloved coffee shop (she takes orders) also makes fabulous granola (come to think of it, Ilene and Kimberly would get along very well). Truth be told, I hardly ever buy coffee at the coffee shop; Kimberly also makes the best scones and cake and yeast doughnuts that don't come out of my oven. They sell their granola with yogurt and fresh fruit in a cup that is just the right size to stick in my cupholder so I can eat as I drive to work. Sadly, this breakfast of the gods costs $4, so it's not an everyday occurrence.
So I bit the bullet, went to the grocery store, channeled Ilene and Kimberly, and hoped for the best. Both of them taught me (by taste, more than anything else) that salt is key. And that you should dial back on the oats. And that you shouldn't oversweeten your granola. And that olive oil makes for a light, crispy, even nuttier crunch.
Though I'm sure that I'll still be buying Kimberly's and Ilene's granola, because they are far more talented bakers than I could ever hope to be, the results were satisfactory. I've been snacking on it since it came out of the oven, and this morning, I heaped it over greek yogurt and apricots, and drove to work with my own container in the cupholder, admiring the fields of buttercups where horses grazed, trying to let the knots in my shoulders go.
1 c. hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1 c. almonds, slivered
1 c. cashews, coarsely chopped
1 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
2 c. oats
generous grind of sea salt (yes, you really need sea salt)
4 1/2 T. olive oil
3 T. honey (or 1 1/2 - 2 T. agave for your vegans out there or people watching your g.i.)
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a metal sheet pan by lining it with aluminum foil, lightly oiled.
Mix all of the dry ingredients together with your hands. Add the honey and oil, toss well to coat.
Pour onto prepared baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned, and cool for a while on the pan, until your self-restraint has evaporated and you must eat some.