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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Barrett

Skillet granola.

I am not the "up and at 'em" type. Furthermore, I generally open my eyes each day with a bed to myself, and - especially on the windy winter days of late - I am prone to retreating deeper into the cocoon of cotton covers. This is the one and only downside to having high standards when it comes to sheets, by the way. Buuuut - few months ago, I committed myself to doing yoga every morning to help get me through the physical demands of the holiday season and avoid injury, and now - if I don't - my body misses that deep stretch and breath-guided opening of tightly wound spaces. So as the clock gets closer and closer to 8am, and the eventuality of my rising can no longer be denied - I throw back the blankets to greet the day, if somewhat begrudgingly. That said, I am also not a later sleeper. I fully recognize the paradox, and I promise it's strictly my love for linens and lying down, combined with a strong resistance to abrupt temperature changes, that makes mornings a rough go for me. Luckily, I am able to shuffle myself from task to task before hitting the mat with little to no human interaction, and after an hour of bending, twisting, breathing, and balance work - I am JUST warmed up enough for my morning coffee or tea.

If you follow me on social, you might remember me mentioning at one point or another that I stay away from gluten and dairy. This is true 95% of the time, as I don't have an allergy to either, and I love cheese. Gluten can go straight to hell, but cheese...that's suffering I am occasionally willing to take on. I'd *probably* go on a gluten bender in a place where the offerings were really something special (say, France, or Karen Akunowicz's new Enoteca + restauraunt Fox & the Knife ), or a food field trip of some kind, but since I feel SO much better without, I am more than happy eliminate it from my daily diet. I wish my food intolerance was because of digestive reasons. I'd just ignore them in that case, like most people. Sadly, both gluten and dairy give me inflammatory skin conditions, and I am just too into not having itchy skin and breakouts. Can you feel me on this? The brain fog, bloat, and mood swings aren't that great either, know...more for you, I guess.

LUCKILY, I know my way around a kitchen. I love food, and beautiful produce, self care, grocery shopping, farmer's markets, unusual ethnic culinary destinations, and I have an authentic admiration for other cultures, so - cooking is part sustenance, and part exploration for me. This blog is a place for me to share a bit beyond the branded lens of my social media presence, and it will naturally include a lot of recipes and food adventures, because honestly - it is one of the things that drew me to ceramics in the first place. You cannot love feeding people, design, and not appreciate a good piece of pottery. When I talk to people about food, I always wish I had an index of recipes to refer to instead of verbal instructions and a hastily penned list on a scrap of paper. If this space inspires someone to make granola from scratch, the value in that is ten fold. From knowing exactly what is in your food (especially if you have dietary restrictions) and valuing the investment of time into your health, to the pride of making something from simple ingredients, and the joy of feeding yourself with good, wholesome, nutrient-dense foods that are fresh and tasty.

That's a lot to digest about granola (see what I did there?), so without further tangential fanfare, here's my recipe for skillet granola, which I developed out of sheer impatience after running out of the store bought kind one morning. Enjoy!

You will need:

a large non stick skillet

parchment paper or baking sheet

1-1/2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup nuts + seeds

(chopped almonds, pepitas, pecans, walnuts,

sunflower seeds, pistachios, etc.)

2 tablespoons of butter. Non-dairy is fine.

2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup

pinch of crunchy sea salt

Put the oats and whatever nuts and seeds you have chosen in a DRY skillet. Over med-low heat, gently toast the mixture without burning it. This takes about 5 minutes. Toss the mix occasionally to encourage an even color. Dry toasting gives the raw nuts and grains a chance to develop flavor and texture without a long bake time. When your mix has developed a light to medium golden brown color, add the butter, and turn up the heat to med-high. Have your sheet pan or parchment at the ready. Stir the mix to distribute the butter, and once melted, pour on the maple syrup. You want the oats to be completely covered and for there to be a little bit of liquid left on the bottom of the pan. Add more syrup if needed. Essentially, this is caramel making, and what we want to happen is for the butter and sugar in the maple syrup to get to the right temperature without burning, so that when the granola cools, there are crunchy clusters that are not sticky. I usually test my luck with longer cooking because a little bit of burnt sugar is way better than soft, soggy granola. That said - just keep your eye on it. Generally, after the butter has melted and the maple syrup distributed, I let it cook for 1-2 minutes. Caramel happens with temperature reached, not time on the stove, so keep that in mind, too. Once your granola is ready, it needs to come off the heat immediately and be spread into a thin layer on either the baking sheet, or parchment paper directly on the counter. Sprinkle ever so lightly with salt. Unless you hate salted sweets, then skip that part. The benefit to spreading it out onto a baking sheet, is that you can pop it into the freezer, assemble your yogurt bowl, and by the tie you are done - it's cool enough to eat.Once, I made the mistake of opening my kitchen widow to set my baking sheet onto the back porch table, recalling from my childhood memories, large, meal-centric gatherings during winter months, and making use of the outside as a makeshift refrigerator. In theory, this is a great idea. If you live in a place with an urban squirrel problem, THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA. Spry little shits. Moving on...

Full fat Greek yogurt and french style jam used to be my one true breakfast love, and although vegan yogurt will never be the same, the Coyo brand of plain coconut yogurt comes the closest with the texture and cooling mouth feel of it's more popular dairy sisters. It does, however, taste like coconuts. Le sigh. Topped with punchy, top of the season citrus, sweet and salty granola clusters, and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey - it might fly under my radar if I hadn't prepared it myself. I'm not giving you a recipe for this portion. It's yogurt and fruit. In the photo, I used red grapefruit and pomelo. You could do strawberries and oranges. Raspberries and rhubarb. I love a super fine chiffonade of mint on the fruit. A spoonful of preserves, or even just the granola + yogurt itself is perfectly delicious. OK. Go forth and make breakfast. May your choices reflect the love you have for yourself and be guided towards health.

(Once cooled, the granola with store in an air tight container for a week or more - though I don't know for sure since it's never lasted that long).


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