I am definitely a girl with some deep contradictions, and my battle with mornings is probably high up on the list. You see, I think mornings are great, especially in the spring and summer when the sun rises early and you can sneak out into the garden with your coffee while the world is still dozing and enjoy it all to yourself. Except I very rarely do. Why? Because I'm in bed dozing like the rest of them! See, I like mornings, but I like my sleep more and it's an ongoing struggle between these two instincts. I seem to do better on holiday and in the height of summer, but I long for the days when I can rise without grump, and sun myself in the garden with the cat before the midday football match has started!
There's another reason why I am trying to curb the "staying in bed" urge in favour of the "rising enthusiastically" one. I love breakfast. I really do, it's my favourite meal of the day and I have been known, when N is out in the evenings, to eat it for dinner. But I really enjoy it in the morning where it belongs. I'm not a girl who goes in for the steaming piles of food for breakfast, you won't find me tucking into a fry-up in the morning (or ever, for that matter) for example. I like to save those breakfasts for the "brunch" portion of the day, the one that comes in between walks in the woods and secondhand bookshopping. Instead I like a bowl of cereal, museli or porridge during the week (spiced in winter, adorned with fresh berries in summer) and a little something more indulgent for the weekends. Always with a black coffee. Always.
Coupled with my love of breakfast is my love of good museli or granola. I try so hard not to pour myself a massive portion (I so easily could) and often look forlornly at the empty bowl which appears all too quickly. My biggest problem with store-bought granola is that it is so often too sweet for my liking, so when Nicole was kind enough to send me the "Baked" granola recipe a few months, along with rave reviews, I knew I was in for some cereal goodness I could make for my very own.
It took a couple of goes to get it just right (first too sweet, second not enough nuts and seeds) but I think I've cracked it. I don't eat this every morning as it still feels like too much of a treat compared to my high-fibre museli, but once or twice a week with some plain yoghurt it's just right.
Hyped-up Granola - adapted from the "Baked" version. (Makes just over 1 pound of cereal)
2 cups of rolled oats
3 tbsp groundnut oil
1/8 C honey
1/8 C maple syrup (I did this by half filling my 1/4 cup with honey, then topping up with syrup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 C flaked almonds
1/3 C Hazelnuts
1/2 C mixed seeds (I use linseeds, sunflower and pumpkin)
1/3 C mixed dried berries (I used blueberries, cranberries and sour cherries)
Preheat oven to 160C and line a baking sheet with parchment or silicone liner.
Place the oats in a large bowl and mix in the cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl whisk together the oil, honey, syrup and vanilla. Pour this over the oats and mix together until all oats are coated.
Place the mixture on the baking sheet and spread into as thin a layer as possible, leaving clumps if you like clumpy granola.
Bake for 10 mins, then remove from the oven, toss and add the nuts and return for another 5 mins, remove again, toss, add the seeds and then return to the oven for 10 mins. Remove and allow to cool fully before adding the dried fruit.
Store in an airtight container, it should last a week or so (if you can refrain from munching on it at every possible "passing the cupboard" opportunity that is!).