I was standing in the kitchen last week making dinner and talking to Michael about his day at work, when Emilia comes running in, slams her doll on the floor with a bang, and declares, 'Her need her legs waxed! She do!'
I found this to be perfect timing, because just a few short hours earlier I had been in the kitchen making granola, and was dangerously beginning to feel like a hippie. When I first pulled out Sophie Dahl's cookbook and was looking at the list of ingredients to make her Tawny Granola, I was feeling quite pleased with myself and rather smug. That's because we had literally every single ingredient that she calls for -- quite impressive, I say. Because, really, how many kitchens are fully stocked with agave, pumpkin seeds, coconut, etc? Maybe I should clarify that a bit. What I actually mean is: how many 'non-hippie' kitchens are stocked with such items? And that is when it started to hit me -- and, unfortunately, it wasn't good news: I had officially morphed into a hippie. Ah, crap. Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against hippies or anything, but I'll be damned if I want to be one.
The glamorous Miss Dahl says she feels like a 1950s housewife while making granola. (I feel like that on a daily basis, only without the glamour.) But my head kept getting filled with images of hairy legs and VW buses as I stirred all the ingredients together. And I am very sorry to report that I was the proud owner of both at the moment. On the bright side though, our VW is not actually a bus. It's just a boring old car. And we do not have any fringe curtains hanging in it.
And so, when Emilia came sauntering into the kitchen declaring that her doll's legs needed to be waxed, I immediately felt better and was quite proud of her. It is such an un-hippie thing to say. (That girl and I are cut from the same cloth, is all I have to say. And, oh, how I love her for it.) In the meantime, I'm now trying to figure out how to get the wax off her doll's legs, which I inadvertently got on them, as I was pretending to wax them for her.
Now then, getting back to the issue at hand: granola. Like all of Sophie Dahl's recipes, they are actually quite good once you've done the required tweaking. I've since made this granola twice (tempting the hippie gods all the while). The first time was just as the recipe suggests, but it was so dark that it was hard to discern exactly what you were eating. It also browned too fast and was dangerously close to burning after only twenty minutes. So I tweaked it and am much happier with the result. I added a good tablespoon of sunflower oil, and about a teaspoon of brown sugar. I also cut down on the suggested amount of cinnamon by quite a bit. If there is too much cinnamon, the flavor is somehow lost and it seems to taste burnt. Also, I turned the oven way down -- to between 300°F and 315°F, making sure that I took the baking sheet out of the oven regularly to give it all a good stir. Some recipes suggest a dash of salt, and this may be a good idea, but I couldn't be bothered at the time.
And now we've got a big plastic tub full of glamourous 1950s granola (I'll go with Miss Dahl's description, thank you very much). It is perfect to have as a bowl of cereal or on top of your yogurt, or whatever you fancy. Just make sure you've got your legs waxed before making it, as I cannot be held responsible for the horrible hippie thoughts that will inevitably begin to float around your brain.
oil for greasing
2 cups rolled oats
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup agave syrup or honey
2 tablespoons apple juice
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup dried apricots, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°F and oil a large baking sheet. (Do what you'd like here, but I stand by 315°F.)
In a mixing bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and coconut. In a separate bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients and the spices. (In addition, I added about 1 tablespoon sunflower oil and 1 teaspoon brown sugar. I also used half the amount of cinnamon called for.) Combine the wet and the dry ingredients and give it all a good stir.
Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet, using your spatula to smooth it down, as needed. Bake for about 40 minutes, making sure you keep an eye on the granola. I took it out about every 10-12 minutes and stirred it around, because burnt granola is really quite nasty.
When it is decently browned and toasty, remove it from the oven. Let cool and then toss in the apricots.
Store in an airtight container. (Recipe from: Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights by Sophie Dahl. Harper Collins, 2009.)