Tuesday 6 August 2013

Breakfast in a hurry

I was looking forward to last weekend's Bank Holiday status for weeks. Two teaching jobs back to back for five weeks had turned my life into that of a very busy bee. Even though I was busy with work I didn't necessarily feel like I was being productive because of the lack of available time and energy to do the things I love, like taking photos and making yummy food.

When the weekend finally rolled my way, I was shocked to discover that I was bored out of my tree! It turns out that even though I love calming days at the beach and hours reading a book in the sunshine, I'm at my most energetic, my best self, when I am packing all those delicious activities into one day. Having sent my bike to the wonderful old man in Temple Bar's Square Wheel repairs for the weekend, I thought I would be busy doing nothing except sauntering around town on the bus, making my way to the park and having delicious food in the sunshine with my manfriend. It was not meant to be. A bus strike mixed in with a few other catastrophes meant I was more or less housebound. No trips to the seaside for me.

I decided then that instead of getting cabin fever and wasting the long weekend, I would try and be as productive as possible and I finally got the layout I wanted for my blog, went to the market (see previous blog here) and started getting back to basics.

One of the problems that I found with being so busy with work is that I couldn't dedicate as much time as I wanted to cooking to the same extent that I could before when I was unemployed in Sligo. I was so busy that even getting breakfast on the go was difficult. This weekend, I decided to solve this whole making time for meal time problem a thing of the past.

For me, colour, texture and taste all merge together to make great food but the colour and appearance add to the expectation of taste. Making an effort to make really good food that looks good will automatically make you feel good. Once I realised this, my attitude to food completely changed. Over complicated nutritionists can make you feel really dumb and insignificant when it comes to food so it was extremely liberating for me to discover the simple, honest and uplifting truth that looking after yourself with food that not only is good for you but tastes great and looks great will automatically make you feel better. It gave my depression a great kick up the arse!

Using what little time we have to make good food fast is important then. As a kid, we were taught how to make granola when it was too warm to eat porridge in the morning and the appeal of "puffs of air" in the form of rice crispies and toast had been lost long before. Granola was a chance, even as kid to throw everything together, put it in a bowl and watch it all turn into golden goodness in time to eat. As a kid, I would forget I had made this and was repeatedly responsible for destroying it and the kitchen by burning the s**t out of the whole batch.

I've since grown up but so has granola. You can buy boxes and bags of granola in all shapes and sizes. I've found though that the cheap sugary varieties and the over priced granola with the latest 'must-have antioxidant berries' take the fun, individuality and power away from us simple folk.

This recipe is a grown up version of my messy, forgetful 10  year old self. The great thing about this recipe is you can throw in pretty much what you can find depending on your tastes at the time and the contents of your cupboard.

I made this mix in 10 minutes and happily chatted to my housemate about Joni Mitchell and Laura Marling for another 40 minutes until it was done. The washing also got done and I even managed to make another recipe to go with the granola. This granola business is NOT beyond the realms of possibility. Give it a go and watch you mornings swan by in unstressed bliss knowing that you made it yourself and now you can sit and relax for 10 minutes each morning while you enjoy!

500 grams rolled oats (you could use different oats or flakes such as millet if you have allergies)
1 cup (approx. 230g) of sunflower oil
2/3 cup (approx. 180 g) runny honey
1 Tbs coconut oil (cold pressed)
2 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon
2/3 cup each of nuts and seeds *
1/2 cup roughly chopped unsulphered apricots
1 handful of dried cranberries**

* I used roughly chopped hazelnuts and a sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seed mix but use what you like just try and mix even amounts in.

** The dried fruit is the same idea as the nuts. The granola tastes better if there are two varieties but it could just as easily be dried apple and banana or sultanas and currants. I just really like the colour and taste combination of apricots and cranberries-it makes me feel like I'm on holidays.

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
2. In a large bowl add oats, seeds and cinnamon
3. Roughly chop the hazelnuts and add the oat mix
4. In a small pan add oil, honey and coconut oil and heat until warm, melted and mixed lightly. (2-3mins)
5. Chop fruit roughly and leave to one side to be added to granola at the end.
6. Pour oil and honey mix over oats and mix thoroughly until the entire mix is coated well
7. Place granola mix (minus the fruit) into an oven ware dish for 40 minutes or until golden brown. If you are using a finer flake such as millet, allow less time to cook and check more regularly.
8. Stir every 20 minutes or so until golden
9. Take out of oven and add chopped fruit and stir.
10. Leave to cool, stirring every 20 minutes until cooled so you don't end up with a giant granola bar
11. Once cooled completely, it should turn crunchy. Store in an air tight container to keep it that way!
12. The granola should last for 2-3 weeks once you keep it airtight but good luck trying to keep it uneaten for that long!

The first time you make this you will see just how easy it is and that exact measurements aren't necessary. Then you will create your own version and it will become your very own granola idea. Healthy, fast, hassle free, tasty and colourful; the way all good things in life can be. Enjoy!

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