Mr. K and I just returned from Christmas in Minnesota. Family time is hard, isn’t it? My parents divorced when I was 16. I was actually ok with it at the time, seeing as my mom and dad are not compatible in the least. Both of my parents are remarried and have been for at least a decade. I don’t think I was aware of it at the time of each of their weddings (or if I was I didn’t quite know how to handle it), but I felt very territorial when they remarried other people. Perhaps part of it was dealing with the unresolved feelings from their divorce several years earlier, but I really struggled when they remarried. Unfortunately, I don’t think I hid this very well from my mom. I’ve never had a hard time telling my mom how I feel about things. Of course, this isn’t necessarily a good trait. Especially when my honest feelings end up hurting her. I wasn’t crazy about my stepdad at first. The summer after my sophomore year in college, I stayed at his house since my mom had recently moved in with him. We ended up butting heads a lot that summer. I think we both felt threatened and it played out like a bad sitcom. I remember getting into an argument with him because he thought it was rude of me to not eat my dinners with them every night. Naturally, he had no idea that I had been eating dinner solo basically since I was 16. My stepdad and I have come a long way since then.
There were a few tense moments with various family members during my visit. I grew up in a VERY small, rural town in Minnesota. Many town residents consider Minneapolis “the big city” that some younger people end up moving to after high school or college. For those of us who end up moving much farther away and to a much larger city, there can be a cultural divide when we go home to visit. Many people in my extended family tend to feel threatened by this. After I moved to NYC, I was hyper-aware of how I sounded and what I talked about during my first few visits home. I wanted to be true to myself and my lifestyle without offending anyone that might feel intimidated by this. It’s a tricky balancing act: I want to share all of the fun and interesting things I’ve done lately without sounding pretentious. Why hasn’t someone created an App for this yet?
Tense moments aside, I realized during this visit home that I still tend to feel territorial towards my parents from time to time. I love them both fiercely, and over the years I have become quite protective of my relationships with each of them. It could be partly related to the fact that I no longer live close to them and haven’t in almost 11 years. We are all getting older and our time together is limited. Therefore, when I go home I want to spend as much time with them as possible. And when I feel someone is threatening that, my fangs can come out. Luckily, they only came out once or twice on this trip. Maybe one of my New Year’s resolutions should be to sand down the fangs in 2014. Nawwww, I don’t do resolutions. But I will be sure to tell my parents how much I love them.
Do you know what else I love? (Ok, that was a bad segue.) This granola! I’ve been making it regularly for my husband over the last year or so. We are never out of this granola at our house. Mr. K likes to eat it with fruit and almond milk for dessert most nights. I am not blessed with the same metabolism, so I try to keep my intake to once a week or so. You’ll notice that I call it “Somewhat Healthy Granola”. I feel like granola is often touted as a healthy snack food, but the thing is, granola isn’t all that healthy. There are probably two camps on this, but I put granola in the unhealthy category of food. Most mass-market granolas are covered in sugar and oil, making them very delicious but very loaded with calories. A lot of smaller granola producers have sprung up over the last few years, and they are holding back on the sugar and oil. Instead, they highlight the oatmeal, nuts and dried fruit that make up the majority of the granola mixture. This makes for a less sweet (and usually much less crunchy) but healthier granola. My Somewhat Healthy Granola recipe falls into this latter category. But don’t fret, the brown sugar and maple syrup still ensure a wonderfully-rich sweetness. And although there is no butter in this recipe, there is a hint of butter flavor that comes from the toasted nuts. I’m a sucker for salty-sweet snacks and this falls under that umbrella. If you aren’t crazy about salty sweets the way I am, you can easily cut back on the salt.
Somewhat Healthy Granola
Adapted from Alton Brown
Yield: 6-10 servings
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup almonds, pecans, or walnuts (or whatever your favorite nut is)
3/4 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt