One of the things that was supposed to get us through the Covid-19 lockdowns was learning something new. Being disinclined to sit still, that seemed like a good idea to me. Now a year and I don’t know how many months into the pandemic, I can look back with satisfaction that I learned how to make granola.
It was a friend who first made me realize it was possible, sharing a Mason jar full and some but not all of the recipe. It was sweet, but not too sweet, and there was a hint of cinnamon and something else; I never figured out what.
Cookbooks were helpful, as was the New York Times cooking website. A breakthrough came via my middle child, who a few times brought home some from Carissa’s, where she had a summer job. The ingredients list on the bag provided more clues.
Eventually, I got pretty good at it, discovering that the toaster oven on its lowest setting for about 25 minutes browned and crisped my trials and errors without scorching the pecans or coconut flakes. Each batch was different, even when I tried to make them the same, and each seemed better than the last. I tried different oils, maple syrup in place of honey, different spices, flax meal, chia seeds.
I learned a few other things during the lockdown, including how to sail a boat big enough for coastal cruising and how to take care of its diesel engine. Owning a project boat built in 1979 led to other new skills, such as sewing cushion covers and splicing new, high-tech rope, and the basics of chart navigation. I did not learn to play the piano, and I did not learn a new language, though the notions cross my mind, occasionally, as I am eating my own granola, inspired, as the best things always are, by a close friend.