readysetgo: Maggie Gyllenhaal. She's my first one. Of course, I also have a crush on her brother, but that doesn't take away from the fact that I think Maggie's supercool. She's such a great actress that she doesn't even seem like she's acting. But what I admire especially is that she wore really unflattering jeans during Crazy Heart. If you saw the film, and you saw how unflattering those jeans were, you'd get my point: only someone with a large degree of awesomeness could get away with wearing such incredibly, unbelievably, and shockingly unflattering jeans and still be supercool.
My second girl-crush is Kim Boyce. I'm sorry if you haven't heard of her, but you're about to. She's a former pastry chef at Spago and Campanile in LA, and since I got her book Good to the Grain about 2-1/2 weeks ago I've spent half my kids' college fund on things like amaranth flour, barley flour, oat flour, and teff flour -- and, oh, also rye flakes.
I've been baking with whole grains for some time now, but I'd recently begun cutting my whole wheat flour with refined flour because I found the texture of some of my baked goods a little heavy. But this Kim Boyce, she's got it all figured out. My first experiment, with her chocolate chip cookies -- which use all whole wheat flour -- was a smashing success. I'm going to make them again with fun, top-secret tidbitty add-ins and then post the recipe. Also, her book forever changed the way I make oatmeal, but you'll have to come back for that recipe, too. Suspense!
So, this muesli. Muesli is granola-ish, but instead of baking honey and oil into the grains and nuts, you toast the grains/nuts naked, and then you add the honey when you're serving. Where's the oil? Ah HA. There's only a teaspoon, so the finished texture is quite different from granola. Muesli's a little more cardboardy, but not in a bad way, and it's also much less caloric. Think of it as a granola alternative, not a granola replacement. I have room in my life for both, just as I have room for Maggie and Kim, should they ever invite me out for breakfast, or to go shopping for jeans.
Recipe for Homemade Muesli
Props to Kim Boyce, whose muesli recipe in Good to the Grain (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2010) served as my very direct blueprint. I made a few changes, mostly because I had oat bran but not wheat bran, almonds but not hazelnuts, and rolled oats but not quinoa flakes. I also used the golden berry blend from Trader Joe's. Drizzling with honey at the table allows you control how sweet you want your muesli to be. You'll find the rye flakes and oat bran at Whole Foods or your local natural foods store. (Check the bulk bins for the rye.)
Makes 4 cups
1 cup whole, skin-on almonds
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups rye flakes
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup oat bran (sub wheat bran, if desired)
2/3 cup mixed dried fruit of your choice
Honey and milk, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the oil and salt. Use one clean hand to rub the oil and salt into the nuts.
Spread the rye flakes and rolled oats on a second rimmed baking sheet.
Place both baking sheets in the preheated oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, stirring two or three times to brown evenly and prevent burning. (Rotate the sheets halfway through, if desired.)
Scrape the toasted nuts and grains into a large serving bowl and add the bran and dried fruit. Serve warm, drizzled with honey and milk, or cool completely and store in an airtight container.