8/15/10

Granola Project

The more I cook and bake, the more I feel like the world, in terms of food, expands. Bon Appétempt, in this way, has become much like those early mornings when checking email turns into a two-hour Internet free-for-allyou lose all sense of time and place and when you finally come up for air, you wonder: What the ef just happened? And I’m only talking about my very limited scope of following recipes—for all the meals I’ve prepared, I haven’t yet dared to come up with a Bon Appétempt original. Where would I even start? (And what would be the “their version” shot?!)

My friend Lauren, on the other hand, has attempted and succeeded at creating some amazing granola, and when I say amazing, I am talking about the kind of dessert or snack you pledge not to finish in one sitting, the kind you wrap up and place in the back of the refrigerator or cupboard to try and forgot only to find yourself going back until you’ve finished it all. The granola in question is both sweet and savory, satisfies both hunger and dessert cravings, is, in the words of Isaac Mizrahi from the 1995 cult classic Unzipped, “good.”
Amelia: I feel like to create your own recipe, you have to have either reached a certain level of culinary self-esteem and/or not be afraid to fail if things don’t turn out. How did the Granola Project start?
Lauren: The kitchen has always been a place of total freedom for me. You can always try again. I love reading recipes but also have a difficult time following rules. So I suppose the objective is to master something so I can then stray. Granola lives and dies with friends and my loved ones.

A: From where do you draw your culinary and/or granola inspiration?
L: Granola seems simple, right? It looks simple. It's one of the those complete things where all the individual ingredients can be recognized but together form something unique. So within this simplicity there are complexities. You see this a lot in cooking. But granola seemed like the perfect place for me to rest.
A: Did you look at any granola recipes as guidance?
L: I am always looking at granola recipes and the ingredients of granola on the shelves. As far as recipes, there are so many I draw from. It's really interesting for me to see ratio and proportionshow much or how little makes a world of taste difference. Louisa Shafia's Lucid Food has a wonderful recipe, and my vintage copy of Kripalu Kitchen has a real classic hippie version that is a total throwback.

A: What are some of the flavor combinations you’ve had success with?
L: The two that have been consistently successful and praised by friends are dried cherry, cocoa nibs with pumpkin seeds and preserved lemon and dates. My son loves Monkey Seed which is dried bananas, sunflower seeds and chocolate chips.
A: My mom recently almost had a major meltdown over purchasing what she thought was an unnecessary bottle of olive oil of which I felt the opposite. Is there one ingredient apart from oats that must go into every batch of granola no matter what flavor you’re making?
L: Maple syrup and salt. When can I get in the kitchen with your mom?

A: The banner of your website features the word granola in hand-lettering within the outline of the state of California. California is a big state—what kind of California specifically is your granola all about? Like, I kind of picture it hanging out along the PCH with some black-leather-jacketed bikers. There’s something very earthy, but also very fresh and sort of Rolling Stones about it.
L: I love you, Amelia. California is sort of my version of the promised land. The place where it all comes together. A bit of nature complimented with a lot of rock and roll.

A: And while we’re getting deep into this, can I say that I love your hair, which is very Debbie Harry and that picture on your blog of Walter de Maria who kind of looks like Alvy’s friend in Annie Hall, but what’s up with these things? Is it all a part of the granola lifestyle? Can the Granola Project bring granola out from under the connotations of hippie-dippy-mama meets convenience?! (Sorry, I’m getting excited.)
L: Thank you for the hair compliment. I suppose it has become my signature thing. But what's most impressive is how you managed to weave Annie Hall and granola in the same conversationI am thinking A Neurotic Granola. Oh, and Walter De Maria is totally inspired and he just put it out there.  

I go through a lot of obsessions and my head rattles with images from music, art, film, etc. Food is the place where all this energy takes shapethat's the glue in my life. I appreciate anything culinary that is open for interpretation and constant reinterpretation, but at heart, I am a purist (a bit of a contradiction, I know!). Granola Project can be the whipping post of all my passing fancies. The granola of 1972 is not the granola of 2010. it may have undertones and a scent of a hippie past but this granola is au courantit's what is happening right now.
above images via maholo & patrishka
A: What are some tips for tackling your own granola at home?
L: Like anything you take on in lifewatch the heat; don't worry about being too careful; good quality well chosen ingredients, and excess passion and love.

A: And lastly, when will it be available in stores??!
L: Taking orders. Contact info@granolaproject.com for more information.
Print Friendly and PDF

10 comments:

amelia said...

OOPS. Forgot to ask a few questions. 1. Can I borrow this Kripalu Kitchen you speak of?
&2. When's the next batch come out of the oven?

Matthew said...

I wish i was still in big bear eating this granola by the lake.

Mary Anne said...

i wish i had ever been in big bear eating this granola by the lake.

the granola project said...

yes, kripalu is on loan to you. you are going to love the book jacket cover.

Andrea said...

I wish I had been in Kiawah via Ojai eating anything.

Ana Degenaar said...

I love eating and making granola...!
Happy week!

Green Been Food said...

love a bit of blondie with my morning granola! looks great.

Neal said...

I had a great time eating this out on the lake.

david john said...

fantastic interview, with some outright delicious granola!

i need to get my hands on this!

david
YHBHS
los angeles

QueriesonFoodsandHealth said...

"don't worry about being too careful"

I guess this is the greatest yet odd advice I've ever heard. Though this is very practical and risky, eh. :)

Cheers,
Peny@embroidery digitizing