When I was a kid, my parents got me a computer game called Cave Girl Clair. They didn’t know it then, but Cave Girl Clair was the software industry’s horrifically misguided attempt to empower young girls through games featuring female protagonists.
The problem was that Clair’s life sucked. If you let her venture out into the world for more than 20 seconds at a time, her bonfire would go out and she would freeze to death. If she didn’t freeze, she’d get eaten by a wild animal because she had no weapons and no choice but to run away. Also, she wasn’t much bigger than the pet rabbit that followed her everywhere. The imaging was rudimentary, so you couldn’t tell if she was wearing any shoes. For all these reasons, you could only let her eat the seeds, nuts and medicinal herbs in her immediate vicinity.
She was always underfed.
I worried about her.
When it came to my mother’s attention that Clair was a defenseless, scantily-clad young lady who was always dieting and taking “medicinal herbs,” letters were written and phone calls were made, and I received another copy of the book Girls Can Be Anything. (In that one, the girl becomes president of the United States at the age of like, ten.)
I think Cave Girl Clair is why I used to hate granola. All those seeds and nuts and dried bits brought me back to the moment near the end of each game, when I’d lower my eyes and whisper at the screen, “The rabbit. I want to eat the rabbit.”
I have since realized that homemade granola is delicious.
There are so many reasons to make your own granola. It is ridiculously easy. It makes a joke out of the taste of boxed granola, and boxed granola is expensive, anyway. Your house will smell like a cinnamon nut factory. You can make pretty jars of it and bring it to brunches or holiday parties.
You can also control your own ingredients. In my case, that means no sunflower seeds, since I never really taste them anyway. You could add any kind of dried fruit or seed to this recipe, or coconut (20 minutes into the cooking time, or the coconut will burn). If you add a lot more nuts and grains, just ratchet up the amount of honey and maple syrup a bit. If you don’t want to go to the natural foods store for wheat germ, just leave it out. You can leave out the dried cherries altogether and go with something else–orange peel, dried mango or guava, chocolate, marshmallows…
Finally, you should make this granola because if you do, somewhere Cave Girl Clair will want to smile. She won’t be able to, because none of the dudes at Rhiannon Software thought to endow her with facial features, but that’s not the point.
Black Cherry Granola
6 c. rolled oats (not quick or instant oats. This is a little less than one 18-oz. cylindrical canister)
1 c. wheat germ
1 c. raw almonds
1 c. pecans
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. maple syrup
1 c. dried cherries
1/2 c.- 1 c. dried pineapple (optional)