I credit Bobby with my passion for cooking. Before I met him I was dating men (okay, man-children at best) whose entire culinary educations lived and died with Hamburger Helper.
When I was living in New York I dated a guy who once brought Lucky Charms and milk to my dorm room, poured me a bowl, and told me it was his "speciality." Needless to say, we never saw each other again.
I actually did date a professional chef in Orlando but he was more interested in checking out his own reflection in the oven door while his osso buco braised than getting to know anything about me. I couldn't overlook such vanity.
Besides, he was a Republican. It never would have worked.
Once I met Bobby, I got the kick in the ass I needed to actually try to cook something myself rather than wait for someone else to cook for me. He was 18 years my senior and regaled me with stories of past dinner parties he'd thrown and travels to some of the farthest corners of the world.
I was completely intimidated and desperate for him to see me as worldly and experienced too. What would he think of me once he found out that I'd never eaten a mushroom or a sweet potato before? How embarrassing.
I have to laugh at some of the things I fed him when we first met. I remember cooking a hamburger to death on the stovetop, sticking it inside a pita and calling it Greek food.
Like a gentleman he ate all the crap I fed him without a complaint, but now we both laugh about how clueless I was.
It's because of him that I was motivated to learn how to really cook - to study food programs on TV and read through cookbooks like novels. It wasn't anything he said or did; just his presence made me want to appear grown-up and self-sufficient, and somehow in my mind that meant that I needed to learn how to cook. How very 1950s of me?
None of this has anything to do with granola per se, except that I could never have fathomed making anything from scratch six years ago. Now I know that toasting oats and honey is a pretty basic thing to do in the kitchen, but just the idea of making granola would have sounded daunting back then. I would have quit before I even began.
I was thinking about this while preparing this recipe today, thinking about how far I've come and how valuable that sense of intimidation ended up being. It pushed me to not only be a better cook but, I think, a more enlightened person.
So here is my low-fat granola recipe, which I dedicate to Bobby, without whom I would probably not even know how to turn the oven on.
Maple Cinnamon Granola
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
Combine all ingredients except the raisins in a bowl and mix until the honey and syrup are distributed evenly. (The raisins will burn in the oven so they should be added after the oats are done cooking.)
Spread the oats onto a greased cookie sheet in an even layer. Cook for one hour, stirring twice throughout. Once it's done and out of the oven, add your raisins. The granola will be crunchy and ready to eat straight from the oven.
Store in an airtight container and enjoy!