Some may scoff at the Suzy-homemaker-ness of it all and label it as trite or kitsch or old-fashioned. I see you rolling your eyes, brandishing your high-stress jobs like swords, all while trying to keep those multiple balls that you juggle in the air. Well, I only have this to say, I am one of you. I have a full time, high stress job that I absolutely love to wield like some shiny weapon, or more to the point, like a shield…"I’m stressed! Don’t bug me!" My job has nothing to do with writing or food or this blog. It is a regular job, and like the millions of regular jobs out there – takes up most of my time and can be the cause of some energetic head-against-the-wall banging. I juggle multiple roles and yes, it does get tiring and frustrating. I don’t always stick my lemons in my San Pellegrino, despite my best efforts. Sometimes I suck on them and grumble and say “oh phooey!”
But, these homey, hearth-y tasks like making stock from scratch, kneading bread, or making your own cereal, actually help relieve the stress of a fast-paced world. Its very clichéd corniness, its almost primitive function, brings me comfort. Slowing down my steps, doing something good for myself, my body, and my family...puttering, contemplating, working with my hands. The very antithesis of the harried pace of work and, sometimes, life.
Plus there is the added benefit, lest we forget, of avoiding all the additives and what-nots that you find in the packaged, store-bought stuff.
Peanut Butter and Honey Granola
(adapted from theKitchn)
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup very roughly chopped walnuts
- 1 cup very roughly chopped almonds
- 1 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup wheat germ
- 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup natural peanut butter, smooth or chunky
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2/3 cup vegetable or olive oil
- 3/4 cup chopped dried dates
- In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, salt, and cinnamon.
- In a small saucepan, mix the honey and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is melted. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until smooth.
- Pour the honey/peanut butter mixture over the oat mixture. Add the oil, and stir thoroughly until everything is evenly coated. The mixture will be chunky and rough.
- Spread the oat mixture evenly on 2 foil-lined (original calls for parchment-lined but I like how foil stays put better) baking sheets and bake in a pre-heated 325F oven for 40 minutes, stirring 2-3 times while baking (I like stirring every 10 minutes).
- When the granola is done transfer to another baking sheet, this one lined with parchment, and spread out. I find this is a good way to let the granola cool down. Once cool, add the dates, and toss to combine.
I haven’t bought granola, or cereal, for a while now (except for the occasional box of raisin bran…for which I have an inexplicable love). I cannot recommend making your own granola enough. It tastes so much better than what you buy in the stores, it is wickedly easy, and you can tailor it to your tastes. I have my basic, go-to recipe for granola here, but this is a wonderful variation. I mean, peanut butter granola…what more needs to be said? I deviated from the original recipe by using walnuts and almonds instead of all peanuts, and forgoing the ground ginger. This makes an absolutely gorgeous granola – redolent with sweet-salty peanutbuttery goodness, and the dates are the perfect dried fruit for it. The recipe makes a nice big batch too, so take out those jars and cute labels and share with family and friends!
Now, don’t think that I’ve gone the full Martha. Although I do dedicate my best efforts to making things from scratch, I won’t get up on a soapbox and say that I never use cube bullion or buy jam. I do, after all, as I said, understand firsthand life’s often frenetic pace and I won’t (and neither should anyone) beat myself up if I can’t make bread this week. Still, do not underestimate the benefits, both in the goodness of the end product and in therapeutic qualities of the process, of doing things the “old-fashioned” way :)
To all the worker bees out there: may our weekend be as luxuriously slow as our week was dizzyingly fast!
And to all the mamas out there, who are always working, 24/7: Have a fabulous Mother’s Day! If I could give all of you peanut butter granola topped kisses I would :)