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19 July 2010

homemade granola, gluten-free

sharon, ready to attack her breakfast

This is Sharon. Sharon makes me laugh. Sharon has a kind heart and an absurd sense of the world and a flirty style that leaves its impression on everyone who meets her.

In the past few days, Lu has been starting to laugh. Really laugh. She has been giggling most of her life. However, now she's actually reacting to silly sounds and weird situtations and letting out a big belly laugh. (How much does she love Mr. Noodle? Well, you should see the joy on her face after the laughter escapes her open mouth.) What was the change? Sharon was here for a week.

This afternoon, I asked Lu, "Do you like to laugh?"
Her face opened wide into a smile, then she said one word: "Sharon."
I understand.

For 28 years, Sharon and I have been making each other laugh. 28 years. That's almost 3 decades. In 2 years, Sharon and I will have known each other for 30 years. Wow. I remember when turning 30 felt impossible, when I began to feel old and wondered at my place in the world. But knowing someone, loving her, being her best friend for 30 years?

It is one of the biggest gifts of my life.

And boy, does Sharon know how to eat.

eggs with ham and gruyere

When Sharon comes to visit, it's a celebration. In fact, this past week, she convinced me to let go of most of my work and simply be with her. I've been feeling frazzled with deadlines and too much to do. Sharon reminded me of how infrequently we see each other now (it had been since September, for goodness' sake) and how she wanted to go on walks, drive the island, shop at used bookstores, and make up new inside jokes with me. None of that was going to happen when I was on the computer.

Thanks, Sharon.

So we ate. By the end of the first day of her here, we had the food schedule written up. Every meal for 6 days, plotted out.

This was the ham, eggs, and gruyere dish from Le Pichet, in Seattle. Sharon and I took a girl morning in the city, without the kid. (This also hasn't happened in a long time.) Every stop revolved around food: World Spice, Trader Joe's, the Melrose Building. Yes, we talked about other things, and we listened to a cd by The Rescues over and over again in the car, but mostly, it was about the food.

I love that breakfast. I love the sight of Sharon across the table over that breakfast even more.

cafe au lait

This was one of the two café au laits that we each had at Le Pichet. We drank our first cup, finished our food, and then looked at each other. "One more each, please," we said to the waitress, as we leaned back in our chairs and decided not to rush anywhere.

I love café au laits, but for some reason, I never order them unless Sharon is with me.

salads at Sitka and Spruce

These salads are from Sitka and Spruce, one of the most stunning, understated restaurants in Seattle.

The salad on the left is marinated raw beets, pistachios, sheep's milk feta, and great olive oil. The salad on the right is salt cod, fava beans, onions, and smoked paprika.

Sharon and I just stared at them when they arrived. The loveliness of this food shocked us both into not talking for awhile.

And then we reached for our forks.

(By the way, both Le Pichet and Sitka and Spruce take care of me beautifully, gluten-free, every time I go.)

blueberry crisp

"Can we have fruit?" Sharon asked me on the phone before she arrived.

Of course. And so we did.

Then, we put that fruit into a crisp.

This went fast. Sharon made her little moany noises when she ate it, satisfied.

last breakfast with Sharon

Even an hour before she climbed into her car and waved goodbye to us all (especially to Lu, who made such a sad face), Sharon sat down with us outside and shared one last meal. Quinoa, poached eggs, prosciutto, and a fresh carrot-apple-ginger-fennel juice.

It tasted bittersweet. I always hate when she leaves.

making granola

One of the first mornings Sharon was here, we made granola together. This time, Lu joined us. She stood on a chair and stirred up the mixture, with Sharon and I watching her.

I first met Sharon when I was nearly 16, a gawky mixture of enthusiasms and geekiness, a nerdy girl with stacks of books by her bed and an Academic Decathalon practice to attend. Sharon was sort of geeky back then too -- my god, her glasses were huge. She grew more and more hip the older we got. Sharon has always been my lightness, the one who makes me laugh and keeps me from growing too serious. Thankfully, Danny loves her as much as I do and we all get along. Now, so does Lu.

You never could have told me, in 1982, when I met Sharon in the 400 quad of Claremont High School that one day she would be standing in my kitchen, making food with me and my daughter.

Standing in the kitchen together, making food, side by side with Sharon always made me happy. We've made chocolate chip cookies and roasted chicken, apple pies and filet mignon. We have eaten more meals together than I will ever be able to count. Between us are milkshakes in Wyoming, Italian beef sandwiches in Chicago, a thousand slices from Sal and Carmine's across the street from our building in New York, diet milkshakes, crunchy salads, pistachio gelato, cups of hot coffee, and the memories we shared over those meals.

There are so few constants in life. Everything breaks and fades away or pulses into pain so great you don't know how to go on. Lately, it seems to me, the only joy comes in small moments, like the joy of sharing food with a friend who has known you for more than half your life.

Come back soon, Sharon. We miss feeding you.

yogurt with blueberries and homemade granola

Homemade Granola

Now here's the deal. There are dozens upon dozens of good granola recipes out there on the internet, many more in trusted cookbooks. I have a recipe for granola already on this site. Why am I offering you a bowl of this?

Well, the granola recipe I shared years ago was made with McCann's oats, which have since been deemed problematic for those who have to be gluten-free. This one is made with Bob's Red Mill gluten-free rolled oats, which we devour around here. (If you make this granola for a gluten-free person, you must make sure the oats are certified gluten-free.) As for the other recipes, I'm certainly not saying this is the best granola recipe ever. I'm just saying that this recipe, given to me by my dear friend Nina, is a template for great granola around here. Slightly sweet, not at all greasy, filled with healthy pumpkin and sesame seeds, sour cherries, golden raisins, and dried apricots, this granola sits in a clear container on the top of our refrigerator, tempting me every morning.

Think of this as a template for your kitchen. Maybe you prefer olive oil to canola or prunes instead of apricots. Change the sweetener to suit your needs. No need to hew to this exactly. Keep the proportions and make it your own.

Mostly, I'm offering this because Sharon approves of this. That's good enough for me.

5 cup oats (please make sure they are certified gluten-free)
2 cups coarsely chopped almonds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup sesame seeds
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit (we used apricots, sour cherries, and golden raisins here)
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Mix together the oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds. Make sure you use a large baking sheet or roasting pan for this. (I prefer the roasting pan, because you can really swirl around those ingredients without spilling them on the floor.) Sprinkle the cinnamon, ginger, and salt over the top. Stir it up.

Toss the bite-sized pieces of dried fruit over the top of the oats mixture. To be honest, you might want more than 1 1/2 cups here. I kept throwing more on until about 1/2 of the surface of the oats had fruit on it. Use your own judgment here. Stir it all up.

Drizzle the maple syrup evenly over the surface of the oats mixture. Do the same with the oil. Stir it all up until everything is well coated — not too sticky, but not dry either. Done? Great. Throw it in the oven.

Bake for 12 minutes, then stir up the granola-in-the-making, then put the pan back in the oven. Repeat this process three more times (it could twice or four times for you, depending on your oven). You're looking for the granola to be not-at-all wet, golden brown, with a bit of crunch.

Pull it out of the oven and let it cool before devouring it.

Makes 10 cups or so.


At 5:07 AM, Blogger 365 sonrisas said...

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... great... i love granolas!!!

At 7:25 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Love the addition of sesame seeds—I will have to give that a try. My dearest friend Jeanise and I are going 23 years strong this September. I remember the day we met like it was yesterday, and she has been there for the birth of both my daughters. How did that possibly happen, when we both still feel like those giggly, silly girls on the 2nd day of highschool? Can't imagine my life without her.

At 7:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This granola is amazing! I added it to my fat free greek yogurt and it was heavenly! Thanks!

At 7:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friends truly make life worth living. Sharon is so lucky to have you in her life.
Love the granola, but tell me how do you keep that jar full? we go through pounds of the stuff whenever I make it.

At 7:43 AM, Blogger bgirl said...

what a great post. nothing like sisterhood that easily flows. how lucky you two are!

i'm so happy to have found your site, the way you blend your words between life's moments and good ingredients!

eager to make this recipe, just wondering if coconut oil would work vs. canola.


At 8:00 AM, Blogger Tracey said...

Mmmmm, definitey making this granola. Sounds delish!

I'm not totally GF, but I'm a low-carber, so I'll skimp on the fruit and use sugar-free syrup. Thanks so much for the recipe!

At 8:10 AM, Blogger jeswel said...

I keep trying to find a good gf granola recipe. This one sounds fabulous. Curious about the ginger though? I'm scared of spices I know little about ;) Do you really taste the ginger or does it just add a new depth to the granola? Could I substitute a different spice?

Thank you so much for your blog. I love your recipes and your descriptions of your life.

At 8:21 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Oh Shauna - Gluten Free and Peanut Free! This is on the list to make this week for sure :)

At 8:41 AM, Blogger iampalegreen said...

Hmmm...ginger, I love that addition! Sounds fab! :)

At 9:04 AM, Blogger Nina Laden said...

Hey Shauna!
Greetings from my library tour. I'm in Moses Lake right now, headed for Soap Lake and Royal City. Very cool that you posted the granola recipe... and I'm so glad that you took time off with Sharon. Good girls!

Just one note: I don't bake my dried fruit. I add it after I bake the seeds, nuts and grains. And I can't remember, did you add the flax seed meal? Keeps you regular, you know. I just ate my granola in the Best Western. Good to go now. (heh heh)

I'm happy to be getting home tonight after fourteen libraries and ten days gone. Home is best- hope to see you soon... xo

PS- Blogger wouldn't let me post with my regular screen name. Don't know what's up with that.

At 1:43 PM, Blogger Chef Fresco said...

Aww what a sweet post! Sharon looks like quite a fun person I must say. :) The pics are all amazing, as usual and I love the granola recipe!

At 5:37 PM, Blogger Stephanie Weaver said...

Thanks for another option for GF granola, Shauna! I never used to like it all that much. But since going GF I got tired of the store-bought GF cereal options and started making my own. If you can get citrus olive oil, it adds a lovely flavor.

At 6:22 PM, Blogger Ali and Evan said...

In our house granola is considered comfort food. We sit together on the couch, reading the paper, eating handfuls of the stuff like popcorn. We like to use olive oil, add orange juice, and cardamom. For us, this spice makes it. We make double batches, baked until sweet and crispy (we know it's done when the whole house smells like a spice-cake factory), and then store in big mason jars. These makes great gifts for friends and family. Thanks for sharing your recipe. I'll be on the look out for gf oats next time.

At 6:36 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

yum!!! i am also intolerant to oats, even if they are gf so i use quinoa flakes, lots of seeds and nuts, puffed rice and coconut oil. i came to your site today because i was feeling sad and a little in need of support. 1 yr. off gluten and the re-test shows my anti-gliadin antibodies doubled (and the iron still pathetically low). i was never tested for celiac so i've been careless about 'shared equipment' and the like. looks like it's time to take it up a notch. i'm bummed and scared. thanks for being here. you, and this community, makes me know it's possible.

At 7:27 PM, Blogger I Am Gluten Free said...

Friends. So lovely. Do you know how to make the sign for friends in ASL? Hook both pointers together at the inside first knuckle. Then reverse with the other finger on top. So cool, isn't it? Almost as cool as having a friend for 30 years!

At 10:36 PM, Blogger Tracey said...

Had to come back. Mine just came out of the oven, and YUM.

Can't wait to pour some almond milk over this for breakfast in the morning.

At 9:37 AM, Blogger socgrrrl (aka, Lisa) said...

This is such a lovely post about old friends and the shared love of food. I have a best friend who I've known for 22 years and when we're together we enjoy morning coffee together. Time passes so quickly.
Thank you for sharing.

At 10:11 AM, Blogger EponaRae said...

If there is any one food that symbolizes 'natural' or 'healthy' to me--other than homemade bread--it is a bowl of rustic, chunky granola. How I missed that beautiful, chewy, nutty, fruity bowl of joy! The advent of certified gluten free oats sent me scurrying for the sheet pans with the obsession to duplicate my favorite granola of yore. *Sigh*
I use coconut oil and like Nina do not roast the fruit. I also leave my pumpkin and sunflower seeds raw and add flax meal and/or hemp seeds raw to my bowl when serving, since for maximum nutrition these two should remain raw AND refrigerated until consumption. My spices? Freshly ground cardamom, fennel seed, fenugreek and nutmeg tossed with the finished goodness.
Oh my, I think it is time to make a fresh batch!

At 10:29 AM, Blogger Shira said...

Everything sounds and looks yummy!

At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just made a big batch of granola last night. i miss le pichet!!

At 11:44 AM, Blogger Rosiecat24 said...

Ooh, this recipe sounds fabulous! It's on my list of things to make this weekend. Also on the list: buy a new bottle of maple syrup.

At 4:39 AM, Blogger Vee said...

Fantastic post, and I understand what you mean...every time I have to leave my best friend I feel the same sadness. She lives in MN and I live in NC. Thanks again, Shauna!

Oh, btw, Arielle, as long as you're correcting Shauna's French, I must correct your English. It's "irks," not "urks." :)

At 6:28 AM, Blogger Krista said...

Mmmmm!!! I really wish my daughter and I could spend a week with you, like your friend Sharon did. To eat, and learn and cook together would be the biggest gift in life for my daughter. Although she'll only be 3 in November, she understands what good food is. I really try but I feel my cooking skills lack-luster! lol I can't stay away from your blog..what a blessing it truely is!

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Anna Lear said...

Thanks so much for this recipe; I've been craving granola lately and can't find GF granola that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. And I'm so glad to read that you took time off to really be with your friend; that kind of time is priceless.

At 7:58 PM, Anonymous tosca teran said...

i am actually making the granola now!
i omitted the oats instead added pecans and hazelnuts.
oh yeah, and i didn't have any maple syrup so i used agave nectar.
i LOVE your website- will be heading to Seattle august 12th and visiting a lot of the restaurants you've mentioned before heading up to the pilchuck glass school.
thanks so much for all of your time, energy and awesomeness shauna!

At 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh my gosh! You've made me cry tears of happiness, again. I love reading your posts and eating from your recipes.

Thank you for your wonderful blog.

At 8:19 PM, Anonymous Jam said...

yyuumm.. the granola looks delicious.. I love having them during Breakfast or snack..

At 7:03 PM, Blogger Jamie Creason said...

I am going to give this a try~especially since Sharon approves! You are so blessed to have such a relationship! Congrats to you! Cherish your time!

At 8:13 PM, Blogger Lucy said...

I am a granola fiend. This recipe sounds divine. Thanks for sharing!


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