Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On granola and spring.

Winter is groaning on and on and on.  I am certainly envious of the pictures of spring break and spring I see on Facebook and Instagram.  I want spring.  I want tulips and the start of grass and pretty purple crocuses easing their way out of the ground, and in lieu of all of that in my own back yard, I'd take a vacation someplace warm and tropical.

My yard is still covered with feet and feet of snow, and probably will be for some time...long past the start of spring in a few weeks, maybe even right up until the first day of summer.  And so I'm breathing deeply this week, reminding myself that there is beauty in the snow sparkling in the sunshine.  There is something primitive about the icicles hanging sharply from the roof.  We can still snuggle up in the afternoon, under a blanket and with some hot cocoa and be content to hibernate a little bit longer.  Summer brings busyness and gardening and the lake and vacations.  Right now, we can move a little bit slower, simmer soup a little bit longer, enjoy the days with nothing to do...no running, no errands, no appointments...and instead we can read books and play games and build train tracks that use every ounce of our imagination and ingenuity.  We can spend an afternoon covered in flour, making cookies and singing and stopping for the occasional dance party.

I pulled out my granola recipe last week; actually, I pulled out two granola recipes and kind of married them into one beautiful, easy granola.  I feel sort of hippie when I make granola, and last week was no exception. Finn helped me mix it together using the bits and pieces that I found in our drawers and I had a little Minnesota honey left, so it smelled like spring as it was baking.  I kept it on the counter to cool and crisp up and I couldn't stop snacking on it.  It's delicious on yogurt and even more amazing in these cookies.  I've made these cookies before just the way the recipe reads, but this time I omitted the apricots and blueberries (because I didn't have any) and used the dried cherries and pomegranates that I also used in the granola instead.  I also added a half cup of chocolate chips (because I did have those!) and I used the granola we'd just made.  Finn helped me roll the cookies into balls, but next time I will flatten them a little bit.  These are seriously so good.  I might have given them the blessing to be breakfast cookies - because granola and dried fruit is totally breakfast food, right?

Spring is coming. The windows will open and the fresh air - cool, but not cold - will clean out the stale smell of winter.  Our days will be full of gardening and walking and just being outside.  Until then I've been motivated to dive into closets and cupboards and drawers; cleaning and organizing and purging.  We can't be outside right now, not really when the temperatures still plummet below zero, but when the ground thaws and the green peeks and the tulips reach up out of the dark, we will be there waiting and watching and sighing with relief.

Cherry Granola
  • 2 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup dried pomegranates
  • 1/2 cup dried dates, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Mix the oats, nuts and fruit in a large bowl.  On the stove top, bring the butter, honey and oil just to a boil; pour over the oat mixture and stir to coat completely.
Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and place in oven for 15 minutes.  Stir and bake another 5-10 minutes longer, just until brown.  Remove from oven and cool completely on wire rack stirring occasionally and breaking up larger chunks.  Store in sealed container for up to 2 weeks. 

*Use whatever dried fruit you have/like: raisins, craisins, apricots, dried blueberries.  Same with the nuts: you can substitute walnuts or almonds, I've even done a mixture of nuts if I have some random quantities to use up.