Hi there, everyone!
It’s been years since I last posted – my apologies for the absence! Here’s what’s been going on:
After going through the grieving process from losing both my parents to cancer, my marriage fell apart, and my husband and I divorced. While emotionally handling that breakup, I went through a year of hell at my job dealing with a stalker, so I decided to throw in the towel and make a move to another state. This involved packing up and moving, finding a new job and a new apartment, and starting over.
So here I am. Living down the street from Harvard University and MIT, in an un air-conditioned 3rd walkup with my 25-year old daughter and a smart, kooky 3-legged cat we affectionately call Fuzzball. Fuzz was a rescue from the MSPCA about a year ago, where he’d been run over by some sort of vehicle, given up because his owners couldn’t afford the medical bills, and had one of his rear legs and tail amputated. About a week after his surgery he was climbing the 5’ walls of his cage, so we knew that, even though he was hurt and suffered major damage, he was a total fighter. Kinda like both of us.
When I moved here, I got a job at a tutoring company but less than 2 years later, I have been laid off due to financial troubles with the company. That position was with a start-up, and I had a boss that could be an abusive asshat but could also be funny and relevant, which has left me very confused. I imagine it not unlike escaping an abusive relationship with someone who constantly gaslights, so I’ve taken a few weeks off to seek the counsel of friends that I trust with the innermost groanings of my soul. I need to heal, and writing is part of that healing process.
I’m also on the hunt again for new employment, have had to find health insurance, and figure out a financial plan until a job turns up. I will be fine; I’m confronting my worries, and am looking forward, not backward. I am also cooking, which is massively therapeutic for me.
Readers of my blog know that I love food “formulas”, as they allow for great results with maximum creativity, so I’d like to share a recipe for a granola formula. Having to be very mindful of pennies these days, I started making my own granola because I refuse to spend $6 or $7 on an 8-oz bag of granola at the store. This recipe is based on a recipe by Cookie & Kate (cookieandkate.com) and is flexible, healthy, crazy easy, and cheap. It’s also totally vegan if you don’t use honey. Enjoy!
Coleen’s Granola Formula
4 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 ½ – 2 cups lumps (see note), raw and unsalted
½ – 1 tsp. sea salt (I use a scant tsp.)
½ tsp. cinnamon or pumpkin spice blend (optional)
½ cup melted coconut oil or vegetable oil (see note)
½ cup liquid sweetener (see note)
1 tsp. vanilla, almond, rum, or other extract
- Preheat oven to 350F (177C). Line a baking sheet with a Silpat sheet or parchment or use a non-stick pan. I usually use a half-sheet pan (13” x 18”) with a Silpat lining.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, lumps, salt, and cinnamon or pumpkin spice (if using).
- Combine the oil, sweetener and vanilla in a bowl with a whisk. Pour over oat mixture and combine well with a spoon. Every piece should be coated. Pour onto your prepared sheet pan and level into an even layer.
- Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring and re-leveling every 15 minutes. This works best if you remove the pan from the oven and close the oven to maintain the temperature. The granola will eventually become golden. If your oven runs hot, set the oven temperature to 325F (163C) and use the same process. The batch I made this morning only took 45 minutes.
- Remove the granola from the oven and let it cool on the sheet pan, stirring occasionally. Feel free to mix in your dried fruit at this point. When it’s completely cool, store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag at room temperature. It should last a good solid month at room temperature. Cookie and Kate say that you can freeze it, but I’ve never done that.
- Sweeteners: Your sweetener can be anything liquid. I’ve used honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, and molasses and have had great success each time. If you use molasses, it’s kind of hard to tell the doneness of your granola by sight, so you’ll have to go by the toasted oat smell instead.
- Oils: Using coconut oil gives you a crunchier granola. Keep an eye on it at the end of the cooking time, as it tends to brown faster as well. It doesn’t really get crunchy until it’s cool, so don’t expect much crunch right out of the oven. You can also use any vegetable oil or EVOO.
- A word about lumps: I like each batch of my granola to be different. I have made seeded granola, which contains a total of 1 ½ – 2 cups of a combination of pepitas, sunflower, sesame, and chia seeds. I have made maple/walnut granola which is sweetened with maple syrup and the lumps are chopped walnuts and currants. Our current batch is pecan granola. Contains nothing but oats and pecan halves. If you want to add dried fruit, feel free to include it in the 2 cups, but don’t add it until the granola comes out of the oven! Baked dried fruit is pretty awful. Use raw nuts if possible, and always use unsalted nuts. It’s a taste thing.
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