In the office, sitting on my desk, was and has always been this bag of familiarity—a bag of loose, coarse flecks. It goes through the thick and thin with me. It never leaves my side. It cheers me up when I’m down. It fills my tummy when I’m hungry. It’s there, by the keyboard, looking at me closely while I type away at the speed of light.
Meet Mr. Oats—a lifelong, loyal companion of mine. (Lifelong? Yes, I have faith in our relationship.) And he’s of rolled oats—not your average quick oats.
One of the many things that glue us together is our love of life’s simplest pleasures. A minimalist that he’s always been, Mr. Oats can be a romantic, too. At times, he’d dress himself up and surprise me in this lovely costume:
Which is basically made of rolled oats, almonds, dried fruit, the seeds of certain grains, natural sweeteners, spices, and a touch of oil and sea salt. It calls for no fuss and is straightforward. It’s deliciously simple and healthy and sustainably filling. Nothing beats a bowl of homemade granola, drenched in cold milk, for breakfast to kick-start my every day. And you know, for someone like me, who’s more of a snacker than an eater, homemade granola makes an impeccable treat to munch on. I can nibble away sans the milk, and it’s just as good and satisfying. It reminds me so much of my American mom’s homemade granola, too.
|Fresh homemade granola cooling on the baking sheets, in my American mom's kitchen in Minnesota, U.S.|
Then there was also once in which he turned up in this costume instead:
Awww … How sweet!
After blending myself in the American culture for close to three years, I’m officially part of the ever-growing chocolate-and-peanut-butter cult. And here he is—in this bowl of homemade chocolate-and-peanut granola—who’d have thought of this variation!
With just a few simple tweaks, you’ve got yourself America’s most beloved flavor combo in a bowl! Sometimes, I love serving this kind of granola with a tide of marshmallows floating atop the cold milk, amid this rubble of goodness. It conjures up the scene whereby a bunch of college students encircling a campfire, on a frigid wintery night in northern Minnesota, patiently waiting for their s’mores to get all toasty and gooey. Mmm ...
I know, I can get all mushy easily. That was why Mr. Oats put himself in the position to serve me these mildly sweetened, spicy, and nutty granolas. He’s here for good to expel the melancholy in me. He knows a simple pleasure like homemade granola is sufficient to put a smile on my face.
There, scoopfuls of life’s purest pleasure, reduced to its simplest form. Just me, my nubbly sweetheart, and his granola.
See, didn’t I tell you we’re simple folks to please?
Andy’s Fairfield Granola
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Website, Nigella.com
Yield: About 2.5 Liters
175 g applesauce
* I always use homemade applesauce, which is ridiculously easy to make. I’ll share the recipe for that in the near future. *
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
120 g brown-rice syrup or rice-malt syrup or golden syrup
4 Tbsp runny honey e.g. clover honey
100 g light brown sugar
250 g whole almonds—with the skins on
1 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp neutrally flavored oil e.g. sunflower, canola or corn oil
450 g rolled oats
120 g sunflower seeds
120 g white sesame seeds
300 g raisins
- Whisk together (A).
- Then, in a very large mixing bowl, toss together (B) with (A) mixture real well. Although a couple of large, rigid wooden spoons will do the job, I prefer to use my hands here. It’s such a sensual thing to do. Hmmm …
- Spread the mixture out on large baking sheet(s). Don’t crowd the sheet(s), or the mixture won’t get all dried and toasted while it bakes in the oven. Bake at 170°C for about 40 minutes. Halfway through baking, redistribute the mixture evenly to prevent overbrowning and/or burning in any one place.
- Once it’s baked and fully toasted, remove the granola from the oven and let cool completely in its baking sheet(s). Toss in the raisins once the granola is cooled, and store airtight.
For chocolate-and-peanut granola:
- Use 300 g skinned raw peanuts in place of the almonds.
- Stir in 25~30 g best-quality cocoa powder to (B) mixture, and before adding in (A) mixture, give them (the dry ingredients) a good raking so that the cocoa powder is dispersed throughout the mixture.
- For this version, Nigella omits the raisins, but I, on the other hand, replace them with coarsely chopped prunes, because I believe chocolate and prunes go well together. She did suggest that dried cherries would be a great inclusion in this version, since cherries and chocolate do in fact complement each other.