On June 21, 2017, I issued a definitive declaration to my husband:
“We will never buy granola again.”
As you might imagine, that proclamation profoundly impacted breakfasts at the Nyfeler house. What you might not realize is how these six words could have a lasting effect on our family for generations to come.
My Kitchen Super Power
Wonder Woman has her super-human speed, agility, and strength. Me? I can pick a good recipe. Yes, my awe-inspiring super power is the ability to ferret out easy to prepare, tasty dishes that utilize simple, whole-food ingredients in our pantry. As a result, my husband and I are a super Supper Club duo–I select the recipe, shop, and prep, and he cooks and cleans. Teamwork on three!
Sometimes, I uncover these recipe treasures in my trove of cookbooks. Favorite pages collect food stains and scribbled comments (you should see my copy of the Smitten Kitchen recipe for kale, dried cherries, and pecans).
I’m a paper person, so stacks of recipes can collect about the kitchen if I’m not careful. I’ve had to develop a system to avoid clutter and fire hazards: newspaper clippings, torn out magazine pages, and printouts are neatly and safely tucked on a bookstand. And what if those recipes don’t completely please when prepared? Trash! I exact an expiration date, too; if a month passes and the recipes remain uncooked, into the recycling bin they go.
I hear you mutter: “What about the good ones? Where do they live?”
Menus From Mom
Flashback to Christmas, 1982: Sue McBee Nyfeler gives each of her kids a very special gift. She’d created a family cookbook, painstakingly typing out favorite recipes on the family’s IBM Selectric (yes, an office-quality electric typewriter was ensconced in the den). Among the measurements and sources, Sue sprinkled comments: for example, “a recipe Jack found on one of his trips to Los Angeles” introduces the instructions for Pinecrest Paella.
My husband James is the middle Nyfeler kid. When we married in 1983, I received custody of his copy of Menus From Mom. For years, it was our kitchen bible and I used it hard. Too hard. Nearly twenty years later, our bulging, food-stained binder bore little resemblance to the crisp, neat notebook his mother had lovingly wrapped that Christmas.
After Sue died in 2003, I wanted to restore her cookbook to its original condition so our kids could know that special piece of Grandmama. My recipes had to move into their own home. So in 2007, I put together Menus From Mom 2.0 for our three kids, just in time for my oldest to start cooking for herself.
What About That Granola?
I’m getting there.
Those delicious “keeper” recipes go into my Menus From Mom. As time passes, new favorites accumulate. Periodically, I issue a set of updates (yes, I know it’s about time to go digital but damn, I love print) and it’s fun to chronologically trace my/the family’s food fads. Everything low-fat from Cooking Light, those pasta-heavy teen years, meat-is-the-main-dish early focus, after-school and pre-workout snacks, and lately, gluten-free and veggie-heavy recipes.
Our family’s history, told via food.
My favorite food blogger, Megan Myers (her site is “stetted”), tweeted a link to an apricot granola recipe she’d published. Oh, Hubby eats a lot of granola. Me, not so much…except in a tiny bowl with Greek yogurt and a heavy sprinkling of mini-chocolate chips as an occasional late-night snack (revealing a guilty pleasure here). Now, my man can burn through a bag of granola at light speed and I was facing a store trip when I opened Myer’s tweet. Whoa–I had every required ingredient at hand. Since I loathe grocery store trips more than cooking, I whipped up a batch.
Oh. My. God.
So much better than the store-bought stuff. Definitely cheaper. Most likely better for us. Preparation took so little effort that even I didn’t even mind cooking.
True to my text, we haven’t bought granola again.
Since that day in June, we’ve kept a container of homemade apricot granola on our counter. When contents are low, I whip up another batch–the simple steps are a nice meditative break from work. I’ve even taken to eating a small bowl of granola with almond milk and a banana on many mornings.
Next step: Enshrining that awesome granola recipe in Menus From Mom so current and future Nyfelers can enjoy the goodness.
Here’s the recipe for your family to love: