|Granola by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books|
When I was a new mom, I knew one thing for sure: I didn't have the first clue what I was doing. So I did what sensible mommies do: I paid someone to teach me how to play with my baby. I confess here that beginning when my daughter was 5 months old and could barely sit up, I drove 45 minutes from my home to the Gymboree play program, where other new mommies took off their shoes, sat in a circle and clapped and sang and learned how to play all over again. My baby daughter didn’t make friends there, absorbing the colors and sounds and trying to avoid the screaming toddlers was consuming enough, but Gymboree was really all about the moms, and I made a keeper of a friend.
Mary Jo is the girl that everyone wants to be friends with, the leader of the nice pack. I tend to shyness in groups, but Mary Jo is the kind of girl who is everyone’s friend, and she became my first new mommy friend by giving me a compliment that I hold dear to my heart - she said I was a little bit granola. She redeemed this odd comment by saying that she was a little bit granola, too. In fact, she was a full-blown seitan-eating vegetarian. I think she said I was “granola” because my husband and I were building our house at the time (really building our house, as in “my husband comes home every afternoon from his office job, puts on his jeans, work boots, and tool belt, and builds our house.”)
Mary Jo and I spent the next couple of years dragging our babies around Atlanta - the zoo, the museums, the parks. She introduced me to her Merry Band, a lively bunch of mommies from the ‘hood, flip-flop and sunglass-wearing girls who talked about stuff I had no clue about - potty training, SUVs vs. minivans, kindergarten. It was my first taste of the mommy network that I’ve relied on ever since, the women who reach into their well of personal experiences and share.
|Granola ingredients by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books|
When our babies grew old enough to start school, we stopped calling each other. This was before long-distance friendship was easy with Facebook. The excuses were many - she lived so far away, about an hour’s drive in dreadful traffic; she had boys (three of them!) and I had girls; her husband played golf and my husband liked to fish. We still exchange Christmas cards, hers with black and white photos of angel-faced boys. But we don’t call each other anymore.
I miss you, Mary Jo, my granola friend. You’re the reason I have a minivan and why I think of you every time I make granola. And if you read this, get on Facebook so I can watch your boys grow up.
|Measure granola ingredients directly in batter bowl. By Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books|
I make this granola every week or two. It comes together very easily in a batter bowl that has marks on the side - no dry measuring cups needed.
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
1. Preheat oven to 325. Measure oil, syrup and honey into a small saucepan and heat to a low boil; remove from heat and let cool.
2. In mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add oil and syrup mixture and stir in to the dry ingredients. Spread granola mixture onto a lined sheet pan. (I use a Silpat, foil or parchment paper would work). Bake at 325 for 25 minutes (I use convection), stirring once halfway through.
3. Remove from oven and let cool. If you like chunky granola, do not stir during the cooling. If you like a crumbly texture, stir several times as it cools. Keeps well in an airtight container at room temperature.
|Dried fruit by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books|
This granola mom likes granola with dried fruit, which should be added after the granola is baked, or the fruit will burn in the oven. A favorite breakfast or dessert is a yogurt parfait with vanilla yogurt (or plain, if you must), dried fruit and a generous handful of granola on top. This is even better in the summer when you can use sweet local blueberries instead of the dried fruit.
|Granola Parfait by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books|
Text and images copyright Lucy Mercer, 2010.