A Winner, Christmas Sweaters, and Granola

December 13, 2010

I’m going to talk about granola.  But a warning.  I’m also going to talk about Christmas sweaters.  And I am going to announce the winner of the apron contest.  Adorable assistant, please show us the number!

Commenter #39 is Annie from Phoo-D!  Annie, please send me an email so I can get your address.  You have a week!

Randy’s and my first date was ten years ago – November 26, 2000 to be exact.  After a week of communicating by email, we met in a Starbucks near his office.  It was a Sunday so he was wearing weekend attire – loose fitting jeans, a comfortably worn plaid shirt, and a pair of clogs.  I kid you not.  During the week, I would later learn, his taste skewed toward Brooks Brothers and sort of preppy clothes that, while very nice, are not really my taste.

One of my very favorite memories of my life with Randy comes from the Christmas of that first year.  We had been dating less than a month and he had plans to join his parents and sisters in Atlanta for the holiday.  I told him I would miss him and he was a little mystified.  We didn’t know each other that well, he would be back in just a few days – why would I miss him?  Lo and behold, soon after arrival in Atlanta, he realized he missed me.  He called me many times in that few days’ span and he also asked his sister Lois for wardrobe assistance.  Lois, bless her, took him shopping and “funked him up”.

Once back in Seattle, he got off the plane and called me from the road saying he missed me so much, he had to stop by my job before going to his.  In he walked wearing a tight-fitting tan sweater with good jeans.  The first time I met Lois, I thanked her for the inspiration because his taste and the clothes  just got better from there.

Now, these many years later, Randy has a very funky wardrobe.  Classy but different.  I love it and he does too.  He still has kind of old fashioned ideas about getting dressed up, but I love that Southern part of him.  When going out to dinner, he will sometimes ask me if it is all right for him not to wear a tie.  My answer is always along the lines of, “You know Seattle, you don’t have to wear a tie anywhere” but what he is asking is it all right with me if he doesn’t.  He is a gentleman.

I like our boys to have cool clothes too.  If you have a boy, you know this is no small task.  The choices range from puppy-dog to skater-punk to little-man-suit without a lot of other options.  But I have found brands that I like and they wear a lot of solids and stripes.  I am practical – I know they are hard on clothes and I try to buy everything on sale.  It is nice to have two boys because all of the more expensive things (jackets, fancy shirts) can be handed down from Graham to Spencer.

These Christmas sweaters were Randy’s idea.  It felt old-fashioned to me.  Like pose for the camera with Santa in a stiff sweater kind of thing.  But things like this make him happy so I waited until some that I liked went on sale and last week I came home with these sweaters.  I showed Graham and his face lit up and he ran over and hugged the sweater.  Talk about easy to please.  We put them on and snapped a few shots and I was grateful that Randy pushed on this one.  I will treasure these photos long after the sweaters stop fitting.

After all that clothes talk, I’m not sure how much you want to read about granola.  But stay with me here.  This recipe comes from Melissa Clark’s new book In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite.  She came through town on a recent book tour and I signed up for an event with her where we got a copy of the book as part of the ticket price.  A week beforehand, I found myself in the cookbook section of a bookstore and pulled it down for a sneak peek.  Based on what I saw, I would not have bought the book.  It is very meat heavy with extremely long introductions to each recipe, more stories than I usually like, and no pictures.  But I had already bought my ticket so I figured I would just give the book away.

After bringing it home from the event, a funny thing happened.  I grew to like it.  Really like it.  The stories are funny.  And Clark has serious kitchen chops, having written or co-written many many books, not to mention her ongoing column in the New York Times.  There are a few authors whose taste and recipes I never question – Deborah Madison and Patricial Wells are two that jump to mind – and I think I might soon be putting Melissa Clark in the same category.  Yes, there are entire chapters of the book, a full two-thirds of it practically, that are off limits to me.  But the things I can make (and have made) have been wonderful so far.

This granola is wonderful.  I have another recipe that I like very much but it has pecans in it which are not my favorite nut.  It also has a lot of butter and honey in it.  There is nothing wrong with either of those things – I just like that this one is different and uses heart healthy olive oil.  In fact, this recipe is vegan and I know vegans who would love a big bowlful with soy milk.

One Year Ago:  Holly B’s Rugelach
Two Years Ago:  Middle Eastern Lentil Rice Rolls with Lemon Tahini Sauce

Olive Oil Granola with Dried Apricots and Pistachios
In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite
Makes about 9 cups

Clark suggests you serve this with fresh ricotta and berries.  Not for me, thank you, but feel free to add this to yours.  I used roasted salted pistachios because that is all I had so did not add the salt.  I used coconut flakes from Bob’s Red Mill and I love their texture here.

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1½ cup raw pistachios, hulled
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup coconut chips
¾ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cardamom or ginger
¾ cup chopped dried apricots

Preheat oven to 300°F.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugr, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom or ginger.  Spread the mixture on a large rimmed baking sheet (about 11×7 inches) in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.

Transfer the granola to a large bowl and add the apricots, tossing to combine.  (DT: I just did this on the baking sheet.)


  1. your tweet of BOYS IN CHRISTMAS SWEATERS sold me. EEEP!!! I hope that Cooper retains his doughy cheeks like Spence. OMG. They are such beautiful boys. I can almost hear their giggles!!

    yummy looking granola too!

    Comment by tracy — December 13, 2010 @ 11:05 pm

  2. I’m really intrigued by the olive oil, and I think I have everything on hand for the recipe except the maple syrup. Do you think honey would substitute well? I do usually use honey in my granola recipe.

    Comment by Jillian — December 13, 2010 @ 11:22 pm

  3. I gasped when I read the clog line. Kirk and I met a friend’s husband at a party last year. He was wearing clogs. To this day, Kirk cannot remember his name. However, whenever I remind him about the clogs, he knows exactly to whom I’m referring!

    I love the sweaters. There is nothing sweeter. Isn’t that one of the lessons of Brigit Jones’ Diaries? Ha.

    And, thanks too, for the cookbook recommendation. Looks wonderful!

    Comment by redmenace — December 13, 2010 @ 11:34 pm

  4. Hi Dana, This is my first visit to your blog via Two Peas and their Pod, but I will be back-already bookmarked! I’m going to play around with some maple agave nectar I picked up as the sweetener in this. Hope it turns out alright

    Comment by linda — December 14, 2010 @ 12:09 am

  5. I’m always on the look out for a good granola recipe. Thanks for sharing!

    Your boys look super cute in their sweaters!

    Comment by sally — December 14, 2010 @ 12:15 am

  6. Love your story about meeting Randy. I guess it just goes to show that a tiger CAN change his stripes! And also that you can’t judge a book by its cover. And a whole slew of other cliches. The boys look adorable in their sweaters. Old-fashioned or not. If it makes you feel any better, my friends and I just had a holiday party and more than five of the guys donned sweaters just like that. I kid you not.

    I’m excited that you like this book! I just got it and haven’t cooked anything from it but I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I like her writing. I could see myself writing a cookbook like this someday…

    Comment by Joanne — December 14, 2010 @ 12:29 am

  7. Thanks for the yummy granola recipe :) Granola and museli are staples around here! I love your story about meeting Randy and the clothes. My husband and I met online and I am sooo glad I looked past his clothes the first time we met! Have you ever shopped the Boden online catalog for your boys? They are based in the UK and they have totally cute and funky clothes.

    Comment by Kathy — December 14, 2010 @ 1:10 am

  8. Cute story! That’s so wonderful that you remember what your husband wore on your first date. I remember when my fiance showed up at my apartment wearing a leather welding jacket on our second date. He was riding his motorcycle and the welding jacket was his stand-in biker jacket.

    Comment by Rachel — December 14, 2010 @ 1:20 am

  9. Super cute! (The boys, not the granola) although the granola looks amazing too.

    Comment by Maris (In Good Taste) — December 14, 2010 @ 5:11 am

  10. I loved this post! I love the boys in their snowflake sweaters – so cute. I too love my boy in sweaters – I found 2 this year that I love – same sweater in navy/yellow/pale blue stripes and grey/light grey and white and I love how he looks in both. Love the story of Randy and his sister – reminds me both of my husband and my brother….

    Comment by Charlotte — December 14, 2010 @ 6:45 am

  11. Those sweaters KILL me. So cute.

    Comment by Jess from Hogwash — December 14, 2010 @ 6:38 pm

  12. I love the boy’s sweaters!

    Comment by Emily — December 14, 2010 @ 7:46 pm

  13. a few things. first, i love that graham hugged his sweater and lit up with happiness. that made me laugh and smile. :) second, thanks for the recipe! I love making my own granola and the recipe I use most often has lots of butter and honey also, so I’ll certainly give this one a try. thanks again!

    Comment by elizabeth @ sophisticated pie — December 15, 2010 @ 6:44 am

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