The California Dish

Food, like love, should be entered into with abandon, or not at all

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Home & Going Granola (recipe too!)

Greetings from Chicago Park, California. I've relocated since my last post! I'm no longer confined to a two-bedroom apartment in Chico. Instead, I type this from the room I grew up in, surrounded by 10 lovely acres of lush, fertile land in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. It's good to be home.
This is the view from my bedroom window. It's a little cloudy in this shot, but our weather has been unusual this summer!

At the beginning of the year, I had a deep sense that this year would be different. Sometimes I sense things on a deeper level than I can observe with my eyes; I dwell, invest in, and perceive just as much in this invisible reality as I do in the world I can tangibly touch. This year marks the beginning of a new decade, and with it a transition for many into a new season. Did you feel the shift? :) Many of us did. I felt more secure in acknowledging this shift when dozens of others weighed in saying that that this year would set a new course for this decade. Surprisingly, my shift brought me home. Where is it leading you?

Corn Shoot. It's about an inch tall here!

So, here I sit, more rested, relaxed, and creative than I have been in years. Literally years. This morning I told my mom, my new roommate, that I feel like a geyser - spurting out creative ideas on a semi-regular basis now. Among them are new art projects (painting, crafting, sculpting, sewing), homesteading ideas (beekeeping, raising chickens and turkeys, gardening, raising goats), books (a memoir about a grandma I know who devoted her life to good food and a book about how to get God to notice you), and business ideas (christmas tree farm, nursery, paris chic decor). And ironically, I have felt less like cooking than I have in a really long time, which is my usual outlet for creativity.

So, instead of sharing a new recipe, I'm going to share a recipe I go back to time and time again. Homemade granola. This actually feels a little descriptive of my life right now. I'm intrigued by sustainability, being eco, going organic, homesteading, and living a slow life. I'm conscious that the first decade of my life was characterized by busyness. I'm contemplating the tension of doing something to actively bring God's kingdom to earth and simply living, knowing that wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, whomever I am with will be naturally influenced by God's hovering presence in my life. I am less drawn to being involved in organized structures, and more compelled to whittle away the things that pull my energy in so many directions.

So here is a picture of my new garden and a recipe for granola. Enjoy!  

Homemade Granola
If you have never made your own granola, you are going to be surprised at how easy it is, and I promise that you'll never buy granola again after you've tasted this. If you eat gluten free, you will need to use gluten-free oats; Bob's Red Mill sells them and they're grown in dedicated fields and processed in dedicated factories. No cross-contamination issues here!

You can vary this recipe greatly by adding different kinds of nuts and fruits to your own batch. Flavor with vanilla or almond extract. Shake cinnamon or nutmeg into it. Dot the mix with dried cranberries or currants. 

 Splash cold milk over this granola or plop a generous spoon of Greek yogurt into a bowl with fresh berries and enjoy! 

5 Cups Gluten-Free Oats
2 Cups Nuts (Any Kind)
1 Cup Coconut (Shaved in large pieces, unsweetened, usually available in health food stores)
1 Cup Dried Fruit (Craisins, Raisens, Goji Berries, Currants, Blueberries)
1/3 - 1/2 Cup Sweetener (Honey, Brown Rice Syrup, Agave, Maple Syrup)
2 Tbs Canola Oil (Optional

Preheat the oven at 325 degrees. Use a 6x9 metal roasting pan (the kind you use for brownies or roasting chickens). Metal works best and the darker the better for toasting the oats!
Measure oats, nuts, coconut, sweetener, and oil directly into roasting pan. Fold ingredients into a cohesive mixture. (Tip: Spray non-stick cooking spray onto spoon for stirring and into measuring cup for sweetener. The spray helps keep the spoon from collecting a giant gob of granola as you mix things together, and the sweetener will slide out more easily with a little barrier between it and the cup).

Slide the pan into the oven onto the top rack. Toast the granola in the oven for 30-40 minutes total. Start checking after about 10 minutes. Pull the rack out of the oven and rustle the oats so that they won't burn and will toast evenly. When granola looks evenly golden brown, remove it from the oven to cool. Then add dried fruit (if you add it before toasting, it will dry out and chip teeth!).