July 29, 2014
Last night I lay in bed trying to fall asleep but thinking instead about rockets falling in Gaza and the great luxury that it is to not live in fear the way that so many human beings on this planet do.
I keep thinking also about the bus loads of children and women showing up at our border and the people whose impulse is to stand there with signs and protest their presence, instead of offering them shelter and sympathy.
I thought about these things on Sunday, as Shiv fought off a little fever and wanted only to be in one of our arms, alternating naps on each of our chests while we snoozed with him or read, one-handed, the way we used to a long time ago, when he weighed a third of what he does now. As I often do, I think about the strange lottery of birth, the hand of circumstances that each of us are dealt and which determines so much about what is and isn’t available to us down the line.
I don’t really know what to say, except that I am really freaking tired of people who try to imply that those of us with the privilege of having first-world problems have done something to deserve or earn them, and that those who struggle with more have done—or worse, not done—something to deserve their fate. This mythology is so pervasive and so damaging that I’ve lost what little patience I might have once had for those who subscribe to it. It takes decency and courage to own up to the fact that we have no earthly idea how hard it is to walk around in someone else’s skin, but I think it is the absolute least we can do.
Sometimes the wisest thing a writer can say is that she has no idea what to say: no conclusions, no answers, no sense. That’s where I am today. But I do have a few things that might offer some meaning, the words and work of others:
Sister Norma, director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, was quoted a few weeks ago in TIME magazine as saying: “Jesus did not say, ‘I was hungry and you asked for my papers.’” You can make an online donation here to assist their refugee relief efforts.
(Non)Secular Girl took a blog break for the past year, to focus on book-writing and baby-making. Joyfully, both are in healthy stages of development and she is back with her smart, poignant weekly sermons that will slay you in the best possible way.
Alec Wilkinson has a piece in the August 4 issue of The New Yorker about poet Edward Hirsch’s forthcoming book-length poem, “Gabriel,” which is an elegy for his son, who died at age twenty-two. I am anticipating a September afternoon, after the book comes out, in which I read it all in one sitting, with tea or coffee to start, and bourbon to finish. (My friend Julie originally posted this, and I am grateful she did.)
This long read, Before You Know It, Something’s Over, captures, in perfect and sometimes painful detail, what it’s like to lose a parent young. Should you share that experience, or know someone who does, I recommend it. (Thanks to Jill for passing this along to me.)
Last but not least, the indomitable Anne Lamott, who somehow always knows what to say, even when the rest of us don’t, posted this status update yesterday. I’ve read it through about three times in twenty-four hours. (My dear friend Marynelle is responsible for sharing this one, because she is the best.)
And now, some food for the body.
THE DEFINITIVE GRANOLA RECIPE
I have abandoned my previous efforts at homemade granola in deference to this recipe–it is simple, it is perfect, it requires one bowl, and it is freaking good. I’ve made and gifted it to several folks and they’ve all, to a person, asked for the recipe, so I figured I needed to share. This is a barely-adapted version of Molly Wizenberg’s most recent granola recipe, so I can’t take any credit for it except for that I may now be disseminating it to folks who may not already know its glory.
In the original, Wizenberg measures her dry ingredients by weight, which allows for a wonderful flexibility and consistency, but in case you don’t have a kitchen scale, I’ve listed rough volume measurement equivalents.
I have halved her original recipe because the original just makes so damn much; I prefer this scaled-down version because cook it all on one baking sheet and still have enough granola to last us a good week with enough extra to pass along a few small jars to friends & neighbors. Of course, you can easily double the amounts I’ve listed here and end up with a very generous amount of granola, either to hoard in your pantry or share with all of your friends. Who will not mind, believe me.
300 g oats – approximately 3 ¼ cups
50 to 75 g unsweetened coconut flakes – approximately 1 to 1 ½ cups
200 g raw nuts or seeds of your choice (I like sliced almonds & pecan halves, but you can use whatever you prefer) – approximately 2 cups
1 tsp. Kosher salt (if substituting table salt, cut to ¾ tsp.)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup olive oil
½ cup good-quality maple syrup (I love the organic maple syrup from Costco—affordable & very flavorful)
*pro-tip: if using a glass measuring cup, measure your olive oil in first, then the maple syrup—the sticky stuff will slide right out and make the measuring cup a lot easier to clean.
Preheat oven to 300°F & line a baking sheet with parchment.
Stir the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour in wet ingredients and stir very, very thoroughly with a spatula, being sure to scrape the bottom and sides; you want to make sure all of the dry ingredients are coated with the wet, and that the liquid ingredients are distributed evenly throughout.
Turn the mixture out onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and spread it out evenly, pressing down to form a tight layer. Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, checking on it a few times but leaving it alone. Remove from the oven when the coconut flakes have toasted and the whole mixture is a nice, light golden brown.
Cool on a rack completely before breaking the granola into clumps and storing in airtight containers. You’ll get crisper, tighter clusters if you wait until it’s truly cooled down before messing with it, but you can always snag an initial snack bowl for yourself (or for your two-year-old son, say).
I love this granola the most when it’s atop a bowl of plain yogurt & sliced summer fruit—peaches and blueberries in particular, as pictured here—but plenty of my friends prefer it plain, or swimming in a bowl of milk.