I was always surprised as a kid that both of our parents seemed to have missed a large chunk of the sixties. When we asked them about famous musicians and major historical events, sometimes they were a veritable fountain of information and other times not so much. I never understood why. Had they been living under a rock? Had an alien probe wiped this knowledge from their brains? It was so puzzling.
Now that I am a mother of two, I realize exactly what the heck they were so busy doing that they missed out on an entire decade. I can’t even remember whether or not I fired up the toaster seconds after I drop the bread in, let alone sum up current events and intelligently discuss important cultural happenings. I am currently in the trenches with two tots under four and if a meteorite was about to hit the earth, I hope someone would have the courtesy to shoot me a text. Otherwise, oblivious to the goings on in the world around me, the kids and I will surely be vaporized. If we do survive, in the post apocalyptic interview when they ask why I didn’t evacuate, I would state, “I thought it was strange that everyone was fleeing the neighborhood, but the baby was actually snoozing for once and I didn’t want to wake her. Also, I had just one more load of laundry to finish.”
Since our parents missed most of the sixties because they were busy raising little prince Scotty, they also missed most of the countercultural influences from the time period as well. Besides some of their hairstyle and wardrobe choices, they were entirely impervious to the whole hippie movement that was happening around them. We were a meat and potatoes family who typically stuck to a more traditional, fifties inspired midwesten diet. Aside from indulging in an occasional can of La Choy chopped suey over those crinkled crunchy fried noodles, we steered clear of exotic fair. Rice with butter was about as international as things got around our table. In the eighties, we did get a wok, and mom experimented with some soy sauce and stir fry but this trend didn’t last long. Eventually, somebody got a screamin’ deal on a wok that was “just like brand new” after it ended up on a table at mom’s annual yard sale.
As for hippie “health” food, prior to your kitchen influence, it was completely non existent in the pantry of our youth. If not for your kitchen tinkering, I may still be eating a slab of meat with fried potatoes and a side of canned green beans, thinking that this was a healthy dinner option. It was you who introduced us to tofu mixed with scrambled eggs. It was you who kept us well stocked with various styles of corn chips. (Not a health food per say but how could I leave out “the staff of life”?) You brought home pots of yogurt and even made your own signature homemade version. You introduced us to grain and nut milks, which finally allowed your lactose intolerant self to stop gagging down handfuls of dry cereal for breakfast. You served up various kinds of granola, sesame sticks, the lovely avocado, tempeh, beans in a form other than the canned and baked variety. You were single handledly responsible for serving me sugar cane, hummus, tamales and sushi. While not everyone in the household embraced the exotic and nutritious fare that you pedaled, I became a big fan. As a little thank you for your important culinary influences, I offer you two of the best granola recipes that I have ever met.
The first recipe is a version of granola bars that are guaranteed to completely knock your socks off. Admittedly, they are a bit dense in the calorie department, but I promise that if you cut them small, they will provide you with energy for days. They also freeze beautifully and they make an awesome on-the-go travel snack.
The second recipe is for a homemade granola that will make you want to burn your co-op card. I promise it is that good. I recommend using three different kinds of nuts instead of exclusively relying on almonds, but other than that, I prepared mine exactly as written. I chose almonds, cashews, and walnuts but I’m sure you can use whatever you happen to have on hand with an equally fabulous outcome. You can eat this stuff by the handful or mix it with some fruit and yogurt. Either way, it is absolutely divine!
Thanks again for all the culinary adventures, big brother. I have happily shared your influences with my husband (a serious sushi convert) and both of my children. The second has yet to eat actual food, but the first would have a hard time grasping that a world could exist without yogurt and tofu!