The great Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Depending on the day, I think of this sage advice differently; some days I am sure Bueller is imploring us to “live in the now!” “look through the bullshit!” And to take deep breaths, take things as they come. Other days, I’m sure I hear an aire of “take nothing for granted!” and “live until you’re dead!” All are exceptional words of wisdom, ya know.
No matter how hard I try to keep some great schedule of recipes and updates in this space – how certain I am it’s possible when sh*t gets crazy – there are always little pauses where I fail and I miss the opportunity to write. Part of me is remorseful about that. Without the report in this space, I’m quite certain that many of you fail to believe that I’m actually taking it all in. But, part of me is ok with these pauses because it means – whether or not I’m telling you about it – I’m taking all of Mr. Bueller’s advice now, and not just literally: yes, you can stop to *see* life as it passes by, so as not to miss it. But I’m learning if you’re going to bother to look around, you might as well *feel* around too. Because there are lots of things going on in that jet stream that you would never see. And a lot of things that, no matter how much I write here, you’ll never read about. You’ll just feel them in my words.
The difference isn’t semantic, it’s actual. If you stop to look at life moving quickly past, you’re still just an observer. And in looking at the warp speed of days one would be inclined to believe that the patterns are the same, the blur is boring. Similar. Comfortable. In my case the trite “more travel, more cookies, more bike rides” would start to be monotonous. But, there’s also a lot of emotion in there and you can’t *see* that. So, while I’m stopped, I’ve been poking my little heart out to see what hits me in my core as well. And this is a different thing entirely. The vulnerability reveals some patterns, yes, but instead of revealing monotony, it cuts it. Nearly every moment is some version of scary; you never know how hard you’re going to be hit, with what you’ll be struck, how you’ll be inspired, disappointed or how you’ll recover from the blow. Regardless, committing yourself to actually taking the hit and standing up again seems like a very worthy cause if you’re going to stop and take notice of life. So, that’s the cause I’m supporting.
The result is a lot of passion brewing in me just now. I don’t know exactly what it’s meant for but it’s telling me to follow into warp speeds, pulling at me in different directions, blindsiding me and requesting that I think about my work, myself, my life in a new light. I imagine it’s a bit like moving at mach speeds in a space shuttle; no doubt, my craft is still hurdling through the unknown, and I’m being jostled, but I’m not confused — I’m very aware that I’m moving faster than anything on the planet and am dealing with my speed in the moment. Trying to smile and not vomit with awe or ill at the same time.
I’m telling myself that I’m viewing things as they are. I feel that I’m learning to act, and work, and live from a place of more compassion and vibrancy. It’s exhilarating and exhausting and confusing. And sad. And wonderful, all at once. The gasp for breath that accompanies an exclamation of “how can this be?!” when I see or feel something unexpected is both a horrible and excited one, and it’s one that I’ve grown more comfortable with of late and the buzzing response created has found it’s way into everything I do.
I ride the canyons and watch for falcons that soar through the morning sunshine, reminding me that I’m just as free. “How can this be?!”
I wake up early to walk the puppy to the park and soak up the dew with bare feet, like a five-year old little girl and just as impressionable. “How can this be?!”
I allow the endless checklists that I hold myself to (even though no one else may ever know when they’ve been completed,) to fall by the wayside. The world continues without them. “How can this be?!”
I just yesterday finished riding my bike from Geneva, Switzerland to Nice, France. (More details on that this week.) “How can this be?!”
I won’t necessarily perish if I run out of almond butter and have to have something else for breakfast. “How can this be?”
My standard, Best Granola recipe isn’t the only one worth making. “How can this be?!”
To this point, this Fennel + Honey Granola.
I found the original recipe in a Bon Appetit Magazine a couple of months back and it has haunted me deliciously since. So for the sake of authenticity I have to commemorate it here (even though I know you have no shortage of great granola recipes from me.) I started making this particular recipe before leaving for Italy and it’s been my airplane breakfast of choice on the past few trips. It’s changed and morphed – as these recipes do – with each iteration until now I have one that I really call my own. The intrigue in this particular granola are the spices and subtle flavors that emerge. Toasty fennel, roasty almonds, comforting pine nuts and bright lemons. The original recipe calls for pedestrian dried cranberries but I can’t imagine making this recipe with anything but apricots or dates (or maybe maybe figs) because the flavors all blend in this unexpected mediterranean profile that’s divine with thick greek yogurt…and cranberries are for fall in New England with pumpkins and brown sugar.
A few important things to note: the honey you use here makes a difference. That’s to say that it’s ok if you use whatever honey you find at the grocery store; it will taste like honey. But if you go so far as to use something small batch, from a special place, it will take on notes of that place. I came home with a delicious little jar of sunflower honey from Italy and it sent this recipe over the top. The almond butter you use also makes a difference. Just as with the honey, you can use whatever you have on hand and it will be great. I particularly love to use a new almond butter I’ve discovered lately from local Boulder purveyor Life of Riley; they ever-so-slightly sweeten the almond butter with maple sugar and it’s divine on its own, not to mention employed in this recipe. If you have the means, please give it a whirl. Lastly, you’ll notice that the granola looks a bit wet when you pull it from the oven. As it should be. By allowing the granola to cool, you create the perfect crunchy chunks that are perfect for yogurt, or eating on their own. Trust, friends. Trust.
And with that, trust that it won’t be a short-lifetime before I share some more good stuff with you here. I’m seeing a lot, creating a lot, and thinking a lot and I look forward to putting it all out there so you can take pause see it, and soak it up. – xo L
- 1 cup pine nuts
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 Tablespoons smooth almond butter
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
- zest of one small lemon
- juice of one small lemon
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup medjool dates, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toast pine nuts, almonds, sesame seeds, and fennel seeds until lightly golden and fragrant roughly , 5–7 minutes, tossing occasionally to prevent burning. Reduce oven temperature to 275°.
- Meanwhile, whisk honey, almond butter, oil, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth. Toss nuts and seeds, oats, and salt in a large bowl. Pour honey mixture over and gently mix until oat mixture is completely coated.
- Spread the mixture out on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring halfway through (to prevent burned edges, 20–25 minutes.
- Let cool; granola will crisp as it cools. Break up into pieces, then stir in dates and serve with yogurt, milk, as you wish!
- Granola can be made 1 week ahead. Store tightly covered at room temperature.