In February I began an online travel writing course. I haven’t taken a course since I finished grad school so it feels like a treat to have protected reading and studying time. It’s safe to say that for chunks of the day, I have been transported from the poles to the equator and everywhere in between. Part of becoming a good travel writer, as I’m sure you’re aware, is that you must read copious amounts of travel literature. “I’m reading for my course” has been my excuse when dinner is not ready on time or we’re eating leftovers, again.
The course commenced as things like this often do, with introductions and enthusiasm from all the students. In the beginning, I focused on the objectives and the online progress bar (on a side note, anyone who enjoys organizing would really appreciate the progress bar feature as it allows students to check off each item that they have completed). As time passed, though, only the committed and enthusiastic students continued to complete the assignments and contribute to the discussion boards. Weeks in, I realized that one of the most important benefits of the course was connecting with the other students through critiques of each other’s writing. As it is an online course we have not seen each other face to face but, there is a sense of connection being that we are all travellers and writers. We’re learning together and it is fascinating to read about different experiences in the same location.
Unlike undergraduate or even graduate courses, this one does not require an end of term exam. It wraps up next week with students saying thank you to our keen instructor and to each other. My goal is to continue with my weekly reading and writing schedule as I’ve come to realize how much discipline is needed when pursuing a creative project at home (and similarly, the discipline that it takes to ignore the huge mess in the other room or that growing pile of laundry).
I will also continue to experiment in my kitchen on a regular basis. My latest creation was inspired by the store-bought boxes of granola that my family has recently been consuming. Looking at the ingredient list on these boxes I realized that we can do better. Less sugar, more freshness, more variety and a touch of springtime flower power. I present, rose and pecan granola.
Rose and Pecan Granola
Makes: about 7 cups (725 g)
Time: Prep time (20 minutes) + baking time (45 minutes) + cooling time (1 hour)
300 g (3 cups) rolled oats
100g (1 ¼ cups) untoasted pecans, roughly chopped
60 g (1/2 cup) cacao nibs
25 g (1/2 cup) large flake, unsweetened coconut
1 tsp fine grained kosher salt
2 tbsp rose petals plus extra for sprinkling
115 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
(1/2 cup) maple syrup
1 tsp rose water
1 egg white
105 g (3/4 cup) currants
1. Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line a large, rimmed baked sheet or 2 smaller ones with parchment paper.
2. Mix the rolled oats, pecans, cacao nibs, coconut, salt and rose petals in a large bowl.
3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Once melted, stir in the maple syrup and rose water.
4. Add the butter mixture to the dry mixture and stir with a large, wooden spoon. Stir in the egg white.
5. Spread evenly onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in the currants.* Bake for another 15-20 minutes. The granola should be golden in colour. It will feel soft but it will harden as it cools. Fully cool on the pan for at least an hour.
7. Store in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.
For breakfast, serve with a combination of yoghurt, bee pollen, hemp hearts and fresh or frozen berries. For dessert, serve with plain yoghurt and mini chocolate chips.
*The currants are added part way through baking so that they will not become overcooked and harden.
** Why is the cooking time so long? This ensures that the pecans are fully roasted which, brings out their flavour and reduces bitterness.
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
Did you try out the recipe? Take a photo and tag your creations with #lindenandlavender or @lindenandlavender on Instagram or Twitter!