Except, of course, when there’s transition week. Anyone else having a transition week? Come on, you know you are.
I can see it in my son as he struggles to get back in synch with the school schedule. (And not just him; it was tough to return to the early morning, make breakfast, pack lunch, check homework hustle). I can see it in other kids at school as they squirm in their seats during reading or space out during lessons.
I can feel it in myself as I scramble to set up work systems for the year, finish writing projects that didn’t quite get squared away before the holidays, and pitch new stories for 2010. All in a week when the Los Angeles Times reports that the freelance writer’s life is in dire straits.
But right now, just for today, I refuse to give in to doom, gloom, and ennui. It’s a new year. Ripe with potential. Let’s begin at the beginning.
And where else to start but breakfast, that first meal of the day? I’m a big fan of brekkie, though I’ve yet to embrace the au courant trend of eating lunch or dinner foods first thing in the morning.
Good luck to all those folks who chow down on pho, pizza, or korean barbecue for breakfast, that stuff leaves me cold when I’m still shuffling around in my slippers. For my money, granola makes a great early morning, gotta-hightail-it-out of the house breakfast.
Discovering granola after growing up with sawdusty muesli ranks high on my list of culinary discoveries in my move from Sydney to San Francisco. Some sniff that granola is just a fat-, calorie-, sugar-laden treat, but it’s got serious hippie pedigree: old-fashioned oats, nuts, and dried fruit, along with maple syrup or honey and oil or butter.
My boy likes the Arrowhead Mills Breadshop Organic Vermont Maple Granola and, ever since I attended a granola tasting hosted by 18 Reasons, he’s become obsessed with the exxy and excellent 18 Rabbits Gracious Granola with pecans, coconut, and pumpkin seeds. (It was one of his fav stocking stuffers.) He likes to fix a bowl for dessert.
In our house, we prefer our granola served with yogurt; it makes for a pretty parfait, layered in a long glass with berries adding visual zing along with vitamins. And while some cafes serve their granola sprinkled on top of a generous mound of yogurt, we like to layer granola, yogurt, and fruit in equal measures. How ’bout you?
Everyone’s got an opinion about the best tasting granola on the market; for a comparison of other commercial brands check out this Serious Eats review. And feel free to let me know yours.
Truth is, though, it’s easy and cheaper to make your own granola and custom it to suit your palate. You can often significantly lower the amount of sweetener in recipes, I’ve found, without sacrificing flavor.
Recently, I sampled a delicious batch of granola, recipe to follow.
But first, the back story.
I am fortunate to have a good friend, also a fellow freelancer, who covers the travel beat. Specifically, healthy, eco-travel on her blog Health * Conscious * Travel, mostly geographically centered in the Wine Country.
To do her job, my pal Melanie Haiken has the tiresome task of checking out high-end spas and resorts which she then writes about for her readers. Someone has to do it, right?
She visits said spas and resorts as a perk of the profession, and she’s often invited to bring a guest, known in the biz as a “plus one”. Do you know how delightful it is to be the plus-one person? You enjoy all the facilities without having to take the hard-hat tours or copious notes. And, if you’re lucky, you might eat some very good granola.
That’s exactly what happened recently when we stayed at the ultra-sleek Hotel Healdsburg, where we enjoyed a room with a super groovy green-tiled bathroom and — full disclosure coming — a comped breakfast that included granola that made us both happy.
It’s concocted by the chefs at the Dry Creek Kitchen, adjacent to the hotel. They graciously agreed to give me their recipe so I’m sharing the swag with my readers.
It’s very moreish. As in you’ll want to eat more of it. Trust me.
Let me know if you agree — or if you have your own granola recipe you want to add to the mix. Enjoy.
6 cups oatmeal
2 cups sliced almonds
½ cup pecan pieces
½ cup walnut pieces
½ cup peanuts
½ cup shredded coconut
1 tbl ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup honey
4 oz butter
½ cup maple syrup
1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl.
2. Melt brown sugar, honey, butter & maple syrup in a pot.
3. Mix until well combined.
4. Pour over dry ingredients and toss until everything is coated.
5. Spray a sheet tray with non-stick coating.
6. Spread granola evenly on sheet tray.
7. Bake at 300 degrees F for approximately 30 min.
8. Toss granola every 10 min.
9. Bake until golden brown and all moisture has evaporated.
10. Continue to toss granola as it cools to avoid large clumps.
Photo: Courtesy Dry Creek Kitchen