Monthly Archives: May 2015

Mexican Chocolate Granola.

I am no baker. Dessert got me into the kitchen — which speaks more to my love of sugar than anything else — but I have little patience for recipes and rules, both central to the delicate reactions that turn butter and flour into cookies and cakes. When I bake, I bake like a cook: impulsive and sloppy, eyeballing measurements and swapping ingredients at will. Baking is science, and I’m the bad kid who shows up on exam day and passes on sheer probability.

Mainly, I stick to utility baking: bread and granola. Both are fairly forgiving canvases that let me operate on taste and touch. There’s less sugar involved, but no less love of the process. And nothing like knowing I gave birth to the base of my basic-ass avocado toast.

What I miss is the generosity involved in conventional baking. Precious few can survive on cookies alone (though I seem to be following a disproportionate number on Instagram), so when we bake, we bake to feed. I think of the batches I used to churn out for classmates and coworkers: YOU GET A CARB! AND YOU GET A CARB! How natural and rewarding it felt to share. I miss that feeling. Granola, however fortifying, doesn’t carry the same allure. Cooking for one, however gratifying, can be a lonely gig.

I don’t always DIY. I get lazy and shell out for bougie artisanal granola. But even if some anonymous oat master nails the grain-to-nut-to-sweetener ratio, all those maple-glazed pecans eventually start to taste the same. And it starts to feel demeaning that all I contributed was $12 for the bag (oof).

So I bake. Granola! One of the easiest things to make at home, and one where we stand to gain the most from doing so. If I’m going to call it dinner — as I have on more than one occasion — I can at least know that I gave birth to my bougie-ass bowl. And then I’ll tell you about it, in hopes you’ll agree that eating faintly spiced chocolate for breakfast (or dinner) is a commendable life choice. And I’ll know that, if only from a distance, I did my part.

Mexican Chocolate Granola

Warning: Your home will smell like a churro factory for a torturous length of time, and I will not apologize. Cooking it low and slow keeps the little bits from burning in the time it takes for the oats to crisp up. This makes a dainty batch for those who (ahem) cannot commit to a whole box of cereal and also cannot be trusted with granola. Feel free to double, triple, and send whatever you don’t finish to me.

1 1/2 cups oats (or buckwheat, pictured here because I Can’t Be Tamed)
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup pepitas
1/4 cup cacao nibs
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Generous pinch of cayenne

1. Preheat oven to 225. Whisk together coconut oil, honey, cocoa, vanilla and spices in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir in dry ingredients.

2. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about an hour, stirring and/or taste-testing every 20 minutes. Let cool completely. If it’s still chewy, pop it back in the oven and dry that sucker out.


Cha-cha now, y’all.

One of the first articles I ever published was a pseudo-inspirational rant called “Hello, My Name is Emma, and I’m a Quitter.” With all the confidence of 19 fairly knock-free years, I recall abandoning piano lessons for dance class (because “no preteen girl in her right mind would choose tea-length dresses over sequined hot pants”) and urge my peers to turn from their colorless lives and walk it out. I end with this clincher:

“I give you all permission to quit. Quit your job. Quit your major. Quit your relationship, if you have to. Do a little soul-searching and discover what it is that makes you happy. The only one you’ll have to answer to is yourself, and I’m sure you’re the harshest critic that you know. In the immortal words of Rihanna, just live your life. Ay, ay, ay.”


I read this and feel like a shadow of my 19-year-old self. I still back this advice, but I’m really bad at acting on it. Where my soul is concerned, I’m all search and no rescue, letting pride and fear of discomfort cockblock action. Rude.

I just turned 26, and I’m trying to Benjamin Button my way back onto the dance floor. So in the spirit of embracing my inner quitter/cocky 19-year-old, I’m pleased to share that I’m valiantly failing my New Year’s resolutions and mostly pretty stoked about it. Sometimes taking two steps back means INVENTING THE CHA-CHA SLIDE. Hey, it beats piano.

Dear January, You’re Full of Shit and Here’s Why

No headphones on the train. This was a nice idea meant to help me connect with my surroundings and minimize time on autopilot. It’s still a nice idea – in fact, I’m writing this in a notebook on the train right now, which I probably wouldn’t be doing if I hadn’t accidentally left my headphones at the office. It’s just not a realistic everyday rule. Trashy EMP is the only way I can get it up some days, and I forgive myself for that.

What I HAVE done is adopt a ritual that makes my commute less of a slog. Instead of taking my caffeine to the face when I wake in the 5 o’ clock hour, I try to wait and either bring (LOL) or buy (yep) something to sip on my way into work. It’s extremely pleasant to hold a fancy beverage and plan my day or stare at babies or whatever — even if Krewella is still providing the soundtrack — and it helps me arrive in a state of peak phreshnezz (read: aggressive caffeination). It also means I drop some dimes at the Pine Tree Natural Organic Land bodega, but my buddy there gives me free bananas, so I’m pretty sure I’m breaking even come snacktime.

Up my manicure game. Okay, yes, but do you know how much I cook and how many dishes I wash/toss in the sink and think about washing?! Many many dishes, which means my manicures last maybe 24 hours and my hands look twice as old as my face. So I guess what I’m saying is that my new resolution is to buy rubber gloves.

Commit to life after bangs. WTF. Why. I look so good with bangs. I am not your sad friend who chopped off her hair to get over a breakup. I keep going back to them because they work. They soften my features and hide my weird hairline and signal that I don’t take my cheeseburger-print dress too seriously. Let’s stop pretending I want a grown-up haircut. You can’t fight destiny, because her child will avenge you and f*cking Beyonce plays for that team.

Run 13.1. I’m in pretty great shape, if I do say so myself. I have my soft spots, because I enjoy housing carbs and cooking while tipsy, but I sweat almost daily and the meatheads at my gym ask my advice on muscle splits. Here’s what doesn’t interest me: achieving ~peak fitness~, whatever that means. The second exercise stops feeling constructive or voluntary is the second I am OUT.

Whatever cocktail of mental and physical stressors aligned in my half marathon training was not doing this body good. I was undertraining and panicked about it, prone to insomnia that I dealt with by carbo-loading myself to not-sleep before runs I would skip because what I really wanted was a strength circuit or trendy cardio class, which I wouldn’t do because I needed to save myself for runs. Dumbest loop ever. It was a mess and I was a mess and furious that so many people could force themselves to do this and I COULD NOT, especially after announcing to literally thousands of people that I would.

In that sense, it was hard to quit. But once I did, I felt nothing but 100% relief. For me, exercise has always been about feeling happy and fit and the opposite of everything I felt while forcing myself to be a distance runner.

The awesome part was remembering how much I love staying active in other ways! I am pumping dat iron and lip-syncing my heart out on the elliptical! Casual runs on sunny Saturdays that involve cross-training on swing sets and refueling with doughnuts: I love you! Do not come near me with a training schedule and a race number for several years at least!


Eat sandwiches for lunch. This one is going really well!

Get outta town. Also fruitful! I did the L.A. thang in February and I’m off to Sonoma next week for work! Basically I flee to the West Coast every chance I get and it’s only a matter of time until I just don’t come back…!

Wear pants on the weekend. It’s been more of a sundress situation, but it’s progress!

Ulfilter myself. Well, I made it back here eventually WHADDAYAWANTFROMME.