Something magical happened to me recently. I woke up to a text message from a friend of mine in Minneapolis with a general level of urgency: “Can we please Skype when you have a chance?” Those of you who know me well know that-though I am a morning person in comparison to most-there is a point between waking and that moment when the caffeine finally jolts my system in which I am at my most inhospitable. This was the state in which that text message found me.
In an effort to wake up, I promptly hopped into the shower. I logged onto Skype with a giant towel atop my head. Shortly thereafter, I got an incoming call from a familiar username and, instead, found my best friend in the whole wide world, whom I haven’t talked to very much since I moved away, sitting at the computer, in all his Jimmy Neutron-haired glory. SURPRISE! I shrieked so loudly that he had to take his headphones out. I think the excitement is so fresh that I still haven’t begun to feel apologetic. Whoops.
Let’s be real–I am probably never going to apologize. I realized over the course of the next couple of hours of catching up that Distance is a powerful and, at times, destructive force. All this time has passed-enough time for an impressive beard to grow into Wolverine-like fierceness; enough time for me to chop off my hair and grow it back again; enough time to make you wonder if you’re still a part of a person’s life or not-and all it took was one morning for us to be in certain places at a certain time. We got to connect again. Sure, we’ve both probably changed, but our friendship hadn’t for a moment. If we were smaller people, Distance might have had us wondering if it had.
In honor of my recent, most-wonderful surprise, I have for you an Ode to Morning. Bright, acidic orange zest and rich sunflower seed butter coat a mixture of fennel seeds, oats, puffed rice, and tangy golden raisins. Its complexity begs for delicate handling, by way of sprinkling atop a plate of fresh fruit and yogurt or decorating stewed apples–complementing and nourishing, like the love you find in a friend.
Orange-Infused Sunflower Seed Butter Granola with Fennel and Golden Raisins
Makes about 3 cups
3 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice (about half an orange)
2 tbsp sunflower seed butter (substitute peanut butter, if desired)
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp ground ginger
pinch of salt
2 cups oats
1 cup puffed rice cereal
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup raw almonds (can be left whole or coarsely chopped, if desired)
1 cup golden raisins
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, add coconut oil, orange juice, sunflower seed butter, honey, orange zest, fennel seeds, ginger, and salt, stirring until combined. Add oats, puffed rice cereal, and almonds, stirring to coat. Spread mixture evenly on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, redistributing granola every ten minutes. Transfer granola to a bowl immediately after removal from oven and allow to cool completely. Once cool, break apart into chunks and stir in golden raisins. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Granola will last up to five days.