Thursday, February 25, 2010


I have had a couple of requests for a granola recipe. I have used this one for ages. The original idea for it came from a cookbook by Kathleen Daelemans called Cooking Thin with Chef Kathleen, but I have made a few of my own modifications.

10 cups oats or 8 cups oats and 2 cups puffed cereals (such as rice or corn)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to about 325.

Place 10 cups of cereal (oats or a mixture of oats and puffed cereal) in a very large bowl. Add the cinnamon and stir to combine well.

Put the brown sugar and water in a bowl and cook in the microwave for 5 minutes, or until it gains a syrupy texture. You will want a bowl that holds several cups of liquid since the mixture will bubble up while cooking.

As soon as the syrup is finished cooking, add the vanilla and salt and stir until the salt dissolves. When as much salt as possible has dissolved, pour the syrup over the oat mixture. Do not scrape out the syrup bowl--it is likely that a little salt will cling to the edges and it won't taste so great in your granola!

Stir the syrup into the oats mixture. When it is well combined, spread it onto 2 large, greased baking sheets (or baking sheets that are lined with a Silpat or parchment paper) and pop them in the oven. Bake for a total of 40 to 50 minutes, until you can just barely see the oats beginning to brown. Allow the granola to cool and then store it in airtight containers. I imagine you could probably store it for a couple of weeks at room temperature, although with 4 kids, this granola has never lasted much more than a day at my house.

If you like to have dried fruit in your granola, I suggest adding it after baking (otherwise the fruit will scorch). There are lots of great possible variations. A couple that my family likes include:
Add 1 tsp. powdered ginger with the oats and mix with 1+ cup dried cranberries after baking.
Add a mixture of raisins and dates after baking.

Other things you could try would be to add coconut or sunflower seeds to the oat mixture--remember keep your total at 10 cups--and/or try other spices and dried fruits.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Life is about...

Sometimes I feel like life might just be about driving the kids to the places they need to go. Most days I suspect that life is really about figuring out what to cook for dinner next. Ever since I started working on the Sophie Safe Food Guide, I thought that life should be about working on that. Whenever something new comes up with my health or my kids' health, I'm certain that life is really about managing health--allergies, endocrine system, strep throat, sinus infections, asthma, etc. But in the end I always realize that life is about balance.

I struggle to balance the needs of our 6 person household with my desire to have a successful business. Most days this struggle results in one of two things: either I work on the couch using my laptop while there are children snuggled in as close as they can get with me still being able to type, or I work late into the night, past the kids' bedtime, and mine as well.

I wrestle with managing the day to day requirements of the house while keeping up with my business goals: every day at 5:00 I feel panic surge through me as I realize that I must, once again, make dinner.

I wonder if I'm doing the right thing when I give Sophie an extra treat because she couldn't have what everyone else had at a party or event. Is it enough? Is there a better way to compensate for what she misses? Is it unfair to the other children?

And at school, with friends, at church, I debate about taking care of Sophie's allergies completely by myself, or asking others to make accommodations. I feel the constant need to balance her (and my) need for acceptance and friendship with the desire not to burden others. Do I ask her to "just make do" too often? Have my requests for others to adjust been too demanding? When it's an issue of safety, the question is easy--I won't put my child in danger for anyone's convenience. But often it's an issue of desire, not safety. Yet how often can a child's simple wants be denied before there is emotional damage?

I hope that I am balancing things in a way that will teach my children that through prioritization, they can accomplish great things. I hope that I am managing Sophie's allergies in a way that will help her understand how to accommodate others and be compassionate. I know that she feels the compassion of others as our friends frequently pack her a special little bag of treats for Halloween, or go to multiple stores to find cookies that she can have, or offer to make something Sophie Safe for the class Christmas party, or keep their pantries stocked with a handful of Sophie-Safe snacks for when she comes to play. I hope I can teach her to focus on the blessings of love and kindness that have come into her life because of her food allergies. I hope I can set that example.