Three months ago, my husband and I packed up all the things in our one room, 675 square foot apartment, drove half way across the country, and moved into a house that quadrupled our square footage. Great swaths of space stretch out in our new Texan home, and there are more rooms than we can use (yet, at least). We’ve found ourselves looking at a blank slate of wood floors and neutral walls, and beyond that a blank slate of unmet friends and unclaimed responsibilities. Possibilities abound.
A blank slate, of course, begs to be filled. But how it will be filled is the question I’m asking myself now. And I realize that I don’t actually want to fill it with much. I want to keep things simple – uncluttered space, uncluttered time.
But keeping things simple isn’t really all that simple. Life is constantly presenting needs and opportunities that require action, thought, time. Along with open space, I also desire fitness, friendships, a beautiful home, professional development, and family activities. The amount of effort involved in gaining these things seems at odds with my desire for simplicity. So I’ve had to ask myself: in the midst of life’s natural complexity, what does simplicity actually look like? And the answer, as far as I can tell, is that ultimately, simplicity is about navigating our desires well. It’s about discerning which desires are significant, and then following through with those wants while letting the other things fall to the wayside. It’s about focusing in on what is important so that we can be fully present in what we’re doing.
One of the practical ways I’ve been seeking simplicity lately is by building routines that contain and streamline the would-be clutter of day-to-day life. Doing this reclaims the some of the margin that everyday things fill, and it purchases me some space to think, feel, be: to focus in on what’s important. I am far from perfect at my routines, but when they work, they really work. One of my favorite routines—which I’m writing this post to share with you—is a weekly batch of homemade granola.
This granola is easy to make, looks gorgeous, and tastes delicious. And the best part is waking up in the morning and sitting down in a sunlit breakfast nook with a cup of tea and a breakfast that I didn’t have to think about making, because I already did days ago. No fuss, almost no dishes—it’s a beautifully simple way to start the day.
The recipe is based off of my aunt’s granola recipe, which I’ve adapted and taken to calling the Awesome Sauce Granola. I was going to tell you that I named it that because the sauce is the secret to the whole granola, and that it’s the one thing in the recipe that you shouldn’t change. But the other day, I found that I was out of several of the sauce ingredients (grocery list routine failure!), and I accidentally put in way too much cinnamon. And… it was still delicious! So perhaps this should instead be called the Impossible-to-Screw-Up-Unless-You-Burn-It Granola.
And yes, I have screwed it up by burning it. The recipe originally said to cook the granola for 30 minutes, but I’ve found that in my oven, it really needs no longer than about 20-25 minutes. It should cook until it is golden brown, but not too dark of a brown. If it begins to have a strong roasted smell, it’s time to take it out.
Awesome Sauce Granola Recipe
Ingredients for the Sauce:
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup honey
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt
2 c. rolled oats (old fashioned or quick)
½ c. bran or wheat germ (optional)
½ c. flaked coconut
½ c. chopped nuts of your choice (almonds are an excellent staple. I sometimes add walnuts; pecans would be amazing…)
½ c. seeds of your choice (I like using pumpkin & flax seeds)
½ c. dried cranberries
½ c. dried apricots, diced
1/3 c. golden raisins
1 T. orange zest
… and/or dried cherries, blueberries, currants. Whatever sounds delicious to you!
1.) Heat all of the sauce ingredients together in a sauce pan to dissolve.
2.) In a large bowl, combine all of the granola base ingredients.
3.) Pour the sauce mixture over the granola base mixture and toss to coat evenly.
4.) Put the granola on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan and bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Check on it about half-way through and stir it around a little. I like to line the sheet or pan with parchment, and I’ve found that using a cookie sheet with edges or a roasting pan is helpful for not spilling while stirring the granola. The granola should be golden brown and smelling roasted, but not yet strongly roasted.
5.) Once the granola has cooled after coming out of the oven, stir in the fruit.