Thursday, December 17, 2009

Silver Linings

I will admit up-front that when it comes to the "half-full or half-empty" philosophy of life, I'm the one stomping her foot and saying "Which one of you dillweeds drank half my Mojito?" Guilty.

When things hit the skids, I hit the bottle. And the complaining. And the wallowing. And the Cheetos. I'm really quite the treat in times of trouble.

Strangely, I grew up with a Mama who refused to let anything get her down for more than a minute. The Matron of Let's-Make-Lemonade, if you will. Sometimes her optimism annoyed me so much that I wanted to pull my teeth out; still, I had a lot to learn from Mama.

Mama is a self-proclaimed "tough old bird." She's almost impossible to rattle and I've seen her cry maybe a handful of times, and she would never be so undignified as to wallow.

This season, I'm channeling my inner Mama. Because old KitchyWitchy needs to toughen up, Uma Thurman style. Although rather than kill Bill, I just need to kill the cranky.

Without going into the minutiae, just know that there's some Karmic Assholery afoot at Chez T.

So I've allowed myself to suck my thumb in the fetal position for a couple of days, but now it's time to squint for that silver lining. So come on out, wouldja?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Well, damn. I guess I'm going to make my own silver lining.

Money suddenly gotten a leeeeeeetle tight this holiday season? Check. Probably is true for most of us right now in this great nation. But when the going gets tough, the tough make homemade gifts.

I've talked before about Awesome Stepkid R. and our holiday salsa project. It's a wonderful tradition, but this year Awesome Stepkid R. is incredibly busy and hasn't been around much. And to make salsa *without* my handy little henchman would make the Wicked Stepmonster even crankier.

So this year, I'm making Homemade Granola. Because it's easy, delicious, fairly inexpensive to make (if you buy the fruits and nuts in bulk) and this recipe makes a huge batch, which is a good thing!

Also, you can customize it any way you like, really, as long as you keep the fruit/nut/grain ratio the same. I didn't put raisins or dates in mine, because a lot of people in my life don't fancy them.

Bake up a big pile of healthy granola, slap it in some festive packaging, share it with people you love, and look forward to the Good Life in 2010. No wimps allowed.

Holiday Granola
based on the Four Seasons recipe in Bon Appetit (12/2009)
makes about 11 cups

4 cups toasted whole grain cereal (such as Mueslix)
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup dried blueberries
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup golden raisins (I used chopped dried apricots)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 275. Mix whole grain cereal, oats, walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts in large bowl. Bring honey and oil just to boil in a small saucepan; drizzle over cereal mixture and toss to coat evenly. Spread mixture onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and dry, stirring every 15 minutes, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Scatter dried fruit over. Sprinkle cinnamon over and toss to incorporate evenly. Cool granola completely in pan on rack, stirring occasionally to prevent clumping.

Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.


  1. We LOVE granola in our house - especially on top of greek yogurt! My husband is going to love you for this recipe. I typically buy the boxed variety and he complains. I don't blame him - homemade is much better and you make it sound soooo easy!

  2. Granola works for me! And so do those prayer bars--just wrap them up, too.

  3. I think this is a wonderful idea. Even better the jar looks like it's filled with candy. How festive is that?

  4. I just got a big jar of granola from my grandmother - it's such a great idea! I might be doing that next year...

  5. Granola and yogurt.... yuuummmmm. Love that.

  6. And once again we are on the same page! I'm making granola bars tonight =). I love your packaging, this would be a gift I would be very happy to get!

  7. I am really sorry you are being a crankapottamus. Hopefully you find some Christmas spirit soon, but it's ok with me if not cuz you are tooo funny.

  8. Hrm. Well, I'm a little sorry that the pity party got cancelled, but if it gets up and swinging again, let me know and I'll drop by with some booze.

    That said - I hope all goes well.

  9. I suck my thumb every now and then. But I'm good at whipping the finger too! Maybe I'll learn how to do both and kick ass simultaneously.

    You said Cheetohs. I'm a goner.

  10. It's a thing of beauty and has to be delicious! We're doing all handmade gifts this year, too, and I hope like hell that we avoid the little guilt bombs that are dropping already.

  11. aw, that's a nice idea! I love granola! Especially if it is cinnamony.

    I'm like you with the half empty cup...I wish I could be like your ma. How does she do it?! With my break-up at the mo, I'm trying my best to be upbeat - and I manage but some days - like last night - the mask cracks. What triggered it was finding the house front door lock frozen so I couldn't get into the house and faced a half hour wait for my landlady to get back to let me in. I felt pretty sorry for myself shivering in the cold there and then... thinking illogically that if I still was with my boyfriend I wouldn't be cold, I'd have someone to hold me...silly really as it would have still happened with or without him as I don't live with then I'm trawling through the internet for distractions later (when I finally get into the house, snug under my electric blanket) and I read somewhere that it is ten times more difficult to be positive and upbeat than it is to be sad (no shit sherlock) but I guess it is a challenge to try and take the difficult path...just it don't bloody come natural...! And I'm a creature of I think of your mum...she is one of those lucky people where it sounds like it is part of her nature to be upbeat...OR she just generally takes the challenge and it one tough, brave cookie. xxx

  12. That thing about being postive is related to isn't a general fact!

  13. Um, hello, if someone drank half your mojito you are totally allowed to stomp your feet!
    I made spiced pecans this year for the neighbors - It made me feel very jolly.

  14. Crabby huh? Sorry to hear that, I know about the money issues that come up.

    My wife and I had the converstation that things are tight and maybe we should cut back on our drinking. After the laughter died down we decided to go with the no presents for grown-ups idea instead.

    Granola looks good! I love home made granola fresh from the oven when it is hot and sticky, can't beat it.

  15. What a great idea... I'm looking everywhere to find ideas for homemade presents and this sounds like a perfect idea for my dad. He loves granola on his yogurt!

  16. I love the thought that goes into homemade gifts. Hope my parents and in laws feel the same way since this year that's basically all there was money for. Thanks sucky economy, hope we part ways in 2010.

  17. Sorry things stink. I hope you know that for quite a few of us, money is tight. And will be, for a while. I totally admire your creativity in the face of crazy. Blessings to you and yours.

  18. I adore your writing and perspective. Love that you are making your own silver lining. We should all be so wise. Can't promise that I'm going to take a crack at the granola (did you see that mangled cake !?!) but I love the palpable sweetness and sentiment of this post.

  19. Who the hell is drinking half of your Mojito?? Let me at 'em!

    Personally I think homemade gifts are the best. I just got a bunch of homemade candy from my cute little Brownie girls and I have been snacking on it for about 3 days now. Yum.

    Sending you some holiday cheer!

  20. Sometimes I feel like we writers are just more prone to crankiness with or without cause. Like you, I think it's OK to wallow with a glass of wine for a bit and then pull it together. I much prefer homemade food gifts to ugly BS sweaters.

  21. I had days like that, weeks even. Now, not so many ups and downs. Hang in there and guard your mojito! Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don't. Christmas is always a bad time for problems (they seem bigger than they are) and this year is worse because so many of us have less money, if any at all!
    We're all with you.
    Funny....I am making granola today too!

  22. I have not even posted on my blog lately b/c all I want to do lately is WHINE, WHINE, WHINE! I love the mojito line, by the way...totally using it.

  23. You amaze me. And even without knowing, I know you are more like your mama than you and your mama want to believe. You'll pick up, brush off, and make some granola. And you'll do it all again tomorrow.

  24. I am so sorry that you're having a Karmic Assholery week. Hugs!!!!!!!!!!

    Btw, when I read "Which one of you dillweeds drank half my Mojito?" I spit coffee all over the keyboard. Even in misery, you're one of the funniest people in the universe. Love you, sweetie!

  25. I hear you, TKW. Bring on the Cheetos, f-bombs and pity parties - you are entitled, and a true sign of being a "grown up" is that you can scrape yourself up and get on with things, which you're doing. This past decade was full of major, almost catastrophic ups and downs over here, but w/o the downs, you can't appreciate the ups quite so much. Don't want to sound like too much of a pollyana, 'cause generally I'm a crusty old cynic,but sometimes even *I* gotta look on the bright side. Hope your bright side shines sooner, rather than later . . . .

  26. Lately, everything has been empty (especially my head). : )

    Money, tight? I am right there with you! For sure!

  27. What I Have Learned This Year, by me: 1) There is definitely a place for fetal position and thumb-sucking; 2)I don't even like mojitos; and 3) The silver linings eventually turn up. Just can't rush them. Oh, and 4) New friendships turn up in the most unexpected places. Now I'm off to look up your toffee bar recipe.

  28. Is it okay that you're making me laugh while you're struggling to find the silver lining? I don't like that you're struggling, but I do like/love your humor and perspective.


  29. It wasn't I who stole your Mojito...although I could use one :) Everyone is aloud to wallow...especially Mom's and Wives. And if I was given so some homemade granola I would be tickled.

    I threw out feelers last summer about Making gifts and you will not believe this. Someone actually said they want a store bought gift.


  30. I sucked down a Cape Cod tonight-- heavy on the vodka, easy on the cranberry juice. I've been whining all week long-- it's been the week from hell. I'm on Winter Break, for two weeks. My tree's not up, no gift shopping done, the fireplace mantle that hubs made and stained for me has nothing festive on it. Bah! I need to make gifts tomorrow. Candied pecans, yeah! Granola-- great idea. It would be great on ice cream with lots of booze poured on top.

    Salut! Off to make another cape cod. Hope your week gets better.

  31. That's a fantastic gift!

    Sometimes I hate money. *Sighs*

  32. Christmas is always tough time of year -- very emotional and way too busy. Not to mention commercial? At our house homemade gifts are a norm, not an exception. I want people (sort of step-kids except I'm not married) to come here for warmth, love, food and fun, not for what someone bought them. Not one of my Christmas presents has ever changed my life or made me a better person. Having people in my life I love -- that's a different story.

  33. passions and soapboxesDecember 19, 2009 at 4:03 AM

    I am the BIGGEST pessimest there is. For me the glass is always half GONE. I never saw my Mom cry. I know she did but her philosophy was to never show your emotions or they would be seen as a sign of weakness. I'm thinking of doing a cookie grab bag this year.

  34. J. Harker is da bomb, because of the offer to add liquor to your time of need.
    I think silver linings are overrated. They make OTHER people feel good to be around us when we have every damned reason to be depressed. And squashing our righteous whining just makes it sneak out in other places at the wrong time. Just like holding in really unacceptable noises.
    Well screw other people and screw putting happy faces on when you don't want to.
    I'm up for a good pout any time you want one. But I might drink at least half your mojito. Cuz as long as my glass is half empty, Witchy, yours had better be, too.

  35. Let me share something with you about the Matron of Let's make Lemonade gal because I must admit I am the glass half full kind gal myself. That lemonade might have a wee bit o' gin in it. Just sayin' something to mull over.

  36. I think homemade gifts are awesome. Do any of us really need any more crap? As a fellow half emptier, I hear you. It's hard to change your perspective. Your granola looks great and sounds delish. Please send some this way!

  37. This is waht I gave for teacher gifts last year and it was a huge hit. Love it!

  38. I turned to homemade treats for some holiday sanity this year, also...granola sounds like a good idea. Tucking it away for next years season of love. ;)

  39. You know, everytime I go missing from your blog, I kick my own ass for missing it as I stalk the hell out of you, catching up and wondering why would I ever miss the awesomeness of The Kitchen Witch.

    First, I love that picture. I need it.
    Second, I wish I was more like your Mama.
    Third, with the budget a whole lot tighter at my house, I made homemade hot coco mix, dipped cookies, and dipped spoons. I love the granola recipe