Read // Eat: Granola from Cheryl Strayed’s ‘Wild’

This guest post comes to us via Alicia of Jaybird fame. When she’s not making a mess in the kitchen, she tries her hand at home DIY projects and elaborate picnics. Go be friends! Twitter /Facebook. 

There are moments in life when we crave answers. We need to push, hard, to find meaning in something that has happened, and to find a way to leave it behind us and keep moving. Wild is the story of a time like that. Cheryl Strayed’s memoir dives deep into her story of losing her mother and the steps she took to find peace–steps that eventually took her to the Pacific Crest Trail and one incredible hike.
“Each evening, I ached for the shelter of my tent, for the smallest sense that something was shielding me from the entire rest of the world, keeping me safe not from danger, but from vastness itself. I loved the dim, clammy dark of my tent, the cozy familiarity of the way I arranged my few belongings all around me each night.” 
Sometimes in the depths of difficulty, simplicity becomes a safety net. Its ease gives us comfort, and it removes the challenge of making one more decision when we’re already struggling. Though I can’t say I know exactly how Cheryl Strayed felt, I can empathize with the feeling of overwhelm. That’s how I’ve been feeling, too, albeit on a less grand scale.
Wild has inspired me to make small changes and to start taking regular steps toward health and happiness. Though I’m not out hiking the PCT, I got started with an easy step: simplifying my morning routine. I have a long commute, but I really enjoy having a homemade breakfast. I often cook something for myself (eggs and a salad or old-fashioned oats, either of which takes about 20 minutes), but when I don’t, I head out the door with an empty stomach. One option makes me scramble to get out the door, and the other makes me hungry until I cave and eat lunch at 10:00am. Clearly it was time to try something a little different.
Last weekend, I took Sunday afternoon to make homemade granola inspired by Cheryl’s trail snacks and classic GORP: good old raisins and peanuts. I swapped almonds for the peanuts and added a few mix-in options straight from the bulk bins of the grocery store.
Every morning this week, I got to enjoy a bowl (or a to-go cup) of yogurt, homemade granola and honey. One less choice to make, one happier morning. I hope you enjoy this recipe…and the extra comfort of simplicity in your day.
Homemade Granola & Mix-Ins, Inspired by Wild
2 cups thick cut rolled oats
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
1/3 cup honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped, toasted almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
optional: ⅓ cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except cranberries and toss by hand. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and evenly distribute mix. Bake for 15 minutes, then add dried fruit if desired. Shake the pan to turn ingredients so they will cook evenly, then bake for another 10 minutes or until golden-brown. Let sit until cool.
Mix-ins
Banana chips
Pepitas, roasted and salted
Unsweetened coconut flakes (toast at 400 degrees F for 2-3 minutes)
Whatever your heart desires
Though Wild isn’t a book about food, any subject matter can inspire some reflection on life and fun in the kitchen.Have you read Wild? Are you looking forward to the upcoming movie version, or sticking to the text?

P.S. Lamb stew from The Hunger Games and chicken frito pie from Gone Girl

11 Comments

*Abi*

At first glance that close up looked like fallen autumn leaves – who knew breakfast food could be so beautiful!

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Manisha

I really want to hike the Superior Hiking Trail here in Minnesota so I tend to read everything about hiking trails and the fact that WILD was written by a woman was the extra bonus for me. This is the second post I've read about granola today. I think the Uni is trying to tell me something. Thanks for the recipe!

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iris

Oh man, I've read this book and it is up there in the top ten of the worst books I've ever read. Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" is far better about having actual plot, using reasonable plot devices (Why start off with your lost shoe, when it ends up not being a big deal at all?), actual character development, and not incorporating tons of meaningless detail/sub-plots that go nowhere.

However, that being said, this granola looks lovely. With a bit of brown rice syrup, you can even make them into granola bars if you like.

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Alicia | Jaybird: Home in Motion

Wow that's so interesting–I actually strongly disliked Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods." I think in both stories it was the main character that stood out to me, and Bryson seemed egotistical and condescending while Strayed seemed empathetic and troubled. I think there were also more specific parts of her story that resonated with me, so even if there were parts where I felt she was acting ridiculous, I understood it overall as part of her story and natural progression.

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iris

Yeah, Strayed might be a more likeable character, but her writing is terrible. Maybe she should have hired a few more developmental editors.

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Ruth

Coincidence is my signal that the Universe has got my back. And after reading Sarah's articles on blogging, a minute ago I made my way to Yes and Yes for the first time. And earlier today I borrowed the audiobook version of "Wild" from my library. I loved Cheryl Strayed's writing in "Tiny Beautiful Things" and love Bryson's writing (although "A Walk in the Woods" is not one of my favorites.) Both have made me laugh and cry in public. It'll be interesting to find out whether I'm enchanted or underwhelmed. Reality itself has such a meandering plot line and its characters age but don't always develop…it's always interesting to see how memoirists make highly implausible but true events interesting. But the granola looks scrumptious, although my non-nut-eating-gluten-sensitive-vegan spouse couldn't share it. More for me, I guess. Yum.

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angieeatspeace

I love that you got inspired to make a small change because of the book.
I read this book and loved it. It became very personal to me…I was actually reading it the very night my father was murdered. Her description of losing a parent was so spot on and resounded loudly. I was hesitant to pick it back up after my dad passed, but I forced myself to and I believe that helped start my grieving process.
I am not sure how I feel about the movie, yet…

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