I’ve been thinking about a recent opinion piece in Washington Post “The new domesticity: Fun, empowering or a step back for American women?” for a while now, especially as I made homemade ricotta last week for the first time and while I baked the olive oil granola recipe below. In the peice Emily Matchar argues that there is a degree of feminist dilemma in women returning to the so-called retro domestic arts in real life and in blog communities. She ask’s the reader, does the purported hipness of cooking, canning, knitting, and a blogosphere celebrating these types of activities challenge feminism. Although she is not entirely sure, she does argue their is at least a partial contradiction at play.
Not so fast I thought, after finishing the piece.
What Matcha misses in her opinion piece is twofold: For one thing, it is not just women tinkering in the kitchen after work, blogging about food, canning, or starting sourdough starters. Some men are just as interested in these things–whether you call these activities part of a hip retro domestic wave is an argument for another time– as some women are as is evidence by the many male authors on blogs big and small. I also happen to live with one of those men for what it’s worth. He is just as involved in the content of this blog, mixing up no-knead bread, buying cookbooks, figuring out how we can do more stuff from scratch; it’s just I’m the one who wants to write about it. Secondly, in my own all- purpose version of feminism made simple for blogging purposes, feminism is about women making their own choices and having a society that is structured to enable freedom of women (and all people.) Women choosing to make bread or sew a skirt is no different than women deciding to scuba dive or ride a moped; I see no dilemma at play.
I’d argue wanting to feel connected to the things you make, whether fixing old cars to perfecting a baguette at home is about personal enjoyment and fulfillment. That’s why I made this granola after all, why I played with the flavors, pumped it up with my favorite dried fruits (figs & cherries) and ate it over plain yogurt, drizzled with honey while reading. It wasn’t an obligation. It about the pleasure of the making things not connected to my office life, the hustle of the everyday (harsh at times) world, even the consumerism of everyday.
And that leaves me with the simple facts about olive oil granola: It’s awesome because it’s salty sweet, a blank slate for meshing whatever flavors you desire. Not to mention it’s got that slight floral taste that only a good olive oil imparts. I started with a NY Times recipe, one that’s been around the blogosphere and back. Granola is meant to be improvised every time so I added things my way. My only recipe advice is to watch granola diligently as it cooks. Burnt granola is a bummer. I know from first hand experience.
Olive Oil Granola with Chinese Five Spice & Dried Fruit/Nuts
Makes about 7 cups of granola
3 cups of rolled old fashioned oats
1 cup raw whole cashews
1 cup of sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice power (make your own here or buy at a local Asian grocery store)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1-2 cups dried figs, cut into bite sized chunks
1 cup dried cherries
1. Preheat the oven to 250.
2. Mix everything except dried fruits together coating thoroughly. Spread on a cookie sheet.
3. Cook for around 40 minutes. Really, I just cook while tossing and turning the granola every 7 minutes or so until the granola is lightly browned and crisp. The time is a framework as ovens vary widely. Just watch yours and taste to know when done.