One of my dearest friends moved away on Monday, and I daresay I miss her much. Having to say goodbye is one of life's toughest tasks, and it never, ever gets easier. Promises to stay in touch and invitations to visit are exchanged. Words full of meaning and emotion to be sure. But in your heart of hearts you know things will never be quite the same. The saddest goodbyes are those said when you know separation is indefinite. Could be 12 months or 12 years until a reunion takes place. But those reunions are the best reunions.
Shannon and I met at my brother's wedding almost 2 years ago. We both rocked really cute pixie cuts (funny, we grew our hair out at the same time too), were relatively the same age, had a background in art and a quirky sense of humour, no kids and not married. She was one of my tribe! Travis and Jackie had a karaoke machine at their wedding dance (!!!) and I was super impressed by Shan's stirring rendition of Patsy Cline's "Crazy" (not to mention her bravery at singing to an almost full house. I waited until the place had mostly cleared out to give an ear-bleeding version of U2's "Beautiful Day".) Her skill and speed at finishing off bottles of Pelee Island Merlot was also impressive - like I said, one of my tribe!!!
Afterwards, we Facebook friended, like you do nowadays. We'd meet up regularly for food and drink and bemoan our aging uteri and the fact that there weren't any good guys to be found in this city. (I'm still holding out hope!) With her excellent design skills and keen eye, Shannon played a huge part in getting my blog up and running, and has been a cheerleader of Sweetsugarbean ever since. That banner you see at the top of this page was created by us on a freezing cold Saturday in January, amidst computer crashes and a raging snowstorm. A true friend indeed. So why the big move? Shan met a really great guy, but he lives in another city not too far away, but far enough where we won't see each other for our biweekly catchups. 'Tis sad for me, but I'm over the moon for her, and really, what better reason to move than for love? I know we'll stay in touch - that's a given. And no, we won't be able to meet up as often, but Shannon and I are kindred spirits and when you're lucky enough to find one, you're pretty much stuck with each other. Like I told her - "it's just kilometers, babe."
To mark the occasion, I wanted to send a little treat along with them for the ride in the fully packed U-Haul. I'd thought about sending a stash of these super delicious granola bars, then just opted for some really healthy and super good-for-you granola. Chock full of almonds, large flake oats, sesame seeds, dried fruit and flax, and yes, that is coconut you see - I was convinced by Sweet Amandine that I wouldn't taste it and I don't really notice the coconut all. What do you know? I'm a coconut convert! The granola is sweetened with a bit of maple syrup and has a small quantity of salt and oil. That's the cool thing about making your own granola, you can control what you want in it and how sweet/salty/fatty it can be. With a quick toss and toast in the oven, it's a wonder I don't make this stuff more often! Just be sure to set the timer and stir it around every 12-15 minutes to ensure even toasting. After it comes out of the oven, add the dried cranberries or your favourite dried fruit, and done. You've made granola! I whipped up the most excellent parfait with layers of granola, organic vanilla yogurt and raspberries still warm from the sun. Sheer deliciousness.
Maple Almond Granola
3 cups large flake oats
1 cup whole almonds
2 tbsp each sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds (or various combinations of seeds you like)
3 tbsp ground flax
3/4 cup coconut (I know! Usually I'm a hater!)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1-2 pinches of coarse salt
5 tbsp pure maple syrup
4 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries, or dried fruit of your choice
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in the maple syrup, oil. If you want it sweeter, add more syrup. Feel it needs more oil, then add more. Line a bake sheet with parchment paper, and spread the granola evenly. In a preheated 350 degree oven, bake for 15 minutes, then stir around, and bake another 12-15 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let cool for a bit before adding the dried cranberries. Cool completely and store in an airtight container. Makes a great snack or gift too! Adapted from Jamie Oliver via Sweet Amandine.
"That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it and think how different its course would have been. Pause, you who read this, and think for a long moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on that memorable day."
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations