(A day trip with mesquite granola, with polenta and coconut and all kinds of good things.)
If you were to visit California at any time of year, my friends, this should be it. The air is warmer, the nights are still cool, greenery is shooting up at a rapid pace. Road trips are riddled with ‘ooooh’ and ‘aaahhh’ pointing at one tree or another awash in spring green. That slightly dusty hazy light falls on it all with a benevolent hand that makes it all somewhat nostalgic even though it’s happening right now. Maybe it’s David Hockney’s fault- I’m not sure if California felt dated until he dated it. Still, this is the time to come here. A drive up the usually hideous 5 freeway will greet you with lush green fields, happily grazing cows, almond blossoms as far as the eye can see, and a row of cottonwoods and oaks along the Grapevine that make you want to stop and explore. A drive out to the desert (such as the one I did yesterday) will, once you pass Beaumont and the outlets, hit you in the face with a wave of warm air and blooming creosote and citrus blossoms but with snow still atop the San Jacinto mountains. All topped off with that big curved blue sky that makes you feel like you’re in a snow globe.
Last night, as the sun went down, Alysa and I dusted off her barbecue and grilled some chicken, and sat outside eating and sipping cider until the night got cool. This time thing is especially present here in the desert because there are maybe two months left before the heat becomes oppressive. Even now, sitting outside in the crispy morning air, there’s that electricity in the air; that anticipation that it’s going to be a hot day. Luckily, I’m heading up into the mountains for the majority of the day, to gather some sage and yerba santa and pine needles from my favourite tree. These are my favourite days, spend crawling over tree branches and stepping over bubbling brooks. Tasting leaves and whispering to trees and, most likely after a snack atop a rock (lizard style), a little nap in the sun.
But it’s that snack I want to bring up right now. Because, if you guys are privvy to my numerous Facebook posts, I don’t really do breakfast. I mean, I like the idea of it, and I know it’s good for your metabolism and that starting the day without it just isn’t right and all that stuff but, since this whole paleo movement made my sweet sugary breakfast cereals into demons (actually it was Sally Fallon, in Nourishing Traditions, and before that my move to America in which nothing tasted the same as the Rice Krispies in the old country, but paleo appealed to my vanity, which was even worse) I went off breakfast altogether. Compound my lack of desire to eat something heavy in the morning with the 3 hours of having been awake before yoga practice is over, and it’s just easier to say ‘I’m not a breakfast person’.
Until this mesquite granola happened. Which, if you ask my rational nutritionally-minded opinion, is really quite bad for you. But if you ask my tastebuds and stomach, both of which are quite happy to have something to gnaw on in the morning, it could possibly be quite good for you if the alternative (starvation) is worse. Here is the conundrum of modern living: too many sides to the story. I leave it up to you to decide after you’ve tasted it. Meanwhile, I’m heading up a mountain with a little bag of homemade granola, scented with vanilla and mesquite from this desert that I love, with little poppy bites of polenta throughout, to eat my lizard style lunch and nap in the sun. The health benefits of such behaviour have not been proven in clinical tests as one cannot patent the lizard style snack-and-nap, but I’d venture a guess that they’re pretty damn good.
I’ll post some pictures for you guys tomorrow.
Mesquite granola, with polenta and coconut and all kinds of good things.
5 cups oats
3 cups mixed nuts, ground in a food processor (I used half almonds, half brazil nuts)
3/4 cup rapadura
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup dry polenta
1/2 cup grated dried coconut
1/2 cup mesquite flour*
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup water
Dried fruit to your taste
Melt the butter and coconut oil together. While you’re doing that, assemble all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Pour the melted oils over the top, mix everything together, then add water until the whole mixture is moist. Spread out over 2 baking sheets, and cook at 300 degrees for 40 minutes, setting a timer every 10 minutes to give everything a quick stir.
Allow to cool, mix in the dried fruit, then store in an airtight container.
* Mesquite flour is available at health food stores. I gather mine in the desert in the summer, you can read about how to prepare it HERE.