Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Life Philosophies + Homemade Granola

Hello from Iceland! If you follow me on social media (IG @the11thapartment) you know that Chris and I arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland's capital city, last week. This trip is a literal dream come true in so many ways. First of all, we've always wanted to live overseas as a couple. And although this trip is only two months long, we're renting an apartment and Chris is working a regular work week, so we're kind of dipping our toes into those international waters.

And that brings to my second point, Chris is spending these eight weeks working in Iceland's acclaimed fine dining spot, Dill. He's working for free (they call it a 'stage' in the food world) and being part of a restaurant at this level is something he's always wanted to do. 

As for me, well I have eight wonderful weeks to dedicate to the 11th apartment. And it's just the best, because I've always wanted to be a full time blogger; okay, maybe not always. There was a short 30 year period in which I was a little unsure which way I wanted to go. I've always been an artistic person, and while I can't speak to others experiences, my tendency towards the creative made it hard for me to pin down exactly what I wanted to do. I was fond of saying that I had a lot of un-monetizable skills. But that wasn't really the issue. At twenty years old I felt that I had to put those creative skills toward some gigantic work of genius. I wanted to produce masterful paintings, or at the very least, pen the great novel of my generation. My goals were big, vague and just a touch ridiculous. 

This is getting a little bit deep for a post on granola, but let me just say that in my thirties I've realized that my life is my art. (Wait, that also sounds kind of vague and ridiculous). While I didn't spend my twenties writing novels, I did spend my time attempting to create beauty around me. And by that I mean that I worked towards having beautiful apartments, beautiful food, beautiful homemade gifts, cards, artwork, photos, even something as small as my balcony herb garden was a thing to make lovely. Blogging has given me the ability to share and encourage this well-styled life. I think pretty living is meaningful living. And that really embodies the sort of creative spirit and creative output that I've had since childhood. 

Anyway, on to the exciting bit: the granola! I wasn't sure what my first 'Icelandic' post should be, but now that we're here it's become quite obvious. You see, the grocery store cooler shelves are packed with one particular product, and that's Skyr, a creamy Icelandic snack that's not yogurt, but is exactly like yogurt. It comes in all kinds of yummy flavours and it pairs perfectly with my homemade granola. 

I actually made this granola just before Chris and I left for Ontario. Granola is such a good snack when you're on the move. And it's so easy to make that you can prepare it almost anywhere. It doesn't have to be a big deal! Which is probably not what you'd think when confronted with the high price of the store bought stuff. But let me tell you, granola is just toasted oats. That's it! So making it yourself is not only easy, it's cost-effective and you can choose your flavours to suit yourself. How fun is that?? Hmm? 

So armed with this new knowledge that granola is just toasted oats, let me break down the very simple 'recipe'. And yes you can feel free to use a couple of air quotes around the word 'recipe', because these instructions are just that loose! 

To make granola, mix 3 cups rolled oats (not instant) with 1/3 cup oil and 1/4 cup sweetner. Stir well, and mix in a scoop of nuts, seeds, coconut or anything else that you'd like to have toasted in the oven. Pour the mix onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 F. Remove the granola from the oven once or twice during baking and give it a good stir to prevent the oats at the edges from burning or crisping too much. 

When the oats have cooled, add any dried fruit, hemp hearts, flax seeds, dark chocolate (hey, maybe it's dessert granola, I dunno) or other items that you want to keep raw. I like to add my coconut at this point because I prefer it not toasted. But whatever floats your boat. 

So, I think it's quite clear why I mentioned that this is a loose recipe. You can add any oil (coconut and avocado oil are my favs, but I'll never hesitate to use canola in a pinch), and any sweetner (I usually go for honey, but brown sugar is always good), and finally, any nuts, seeds, fruits or candies. You can pretty much throw the kitchen sink in this mix and as long as you've got your base of oats mixed with fat and sweet.

For anyone who wants to try out my actual recipe (no air quotes), here you go:

Shayda's Coconut Granola

3 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup avocado oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup sliced almonds
          -Mix well and bake for 25 min at 350, stirring twice during baking

1/4 cup chopped dried cantaloupe
1/2 cup large flake organic coconut
1/4 cup hemp hearts
          -Add once oats have cooled, stir well
          -Pour granola into mason jars and store at room temperature

Here's wishing you happy granola-making all the way from Reykjavik! 

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