Hiding and Banana Walnut Granola
I hide a lot these days.
I don’t think anyone noticed, myself included until this week.
Guess that means I’m good at hiding or maybe just better than I used to be. Playing hide-and-seek on a summer night as a kid, I was too chicken to stake claim to the best hiding places–they were the darkest spots. I didn’t know what waited for me in the darkness, but I presumed it was a lot worse than being found within thirty seconds of hearing, “ready or not, here I come.”
As an adult, I hide without that anxiety filled sense of urgency, without the fear of being discovered. I hide without trying, or even realizing that I’m hiding, until I’m suddenly and sometimes painfully aware that I am exposed and vulnerable.
And then bam, just like that I’m in a crowded theater (This isn’t a dream. I’m not naked. And I’m not late for my final exam.) with Ami Vitale, a world-renowned photographer for National Geographic Magazine. Ami was a speaker for the Chicago Ideas Week session on photography. She stood no more than twenty feet from me describing through words and, of course, pictures what photography means to her, “My job is to illuminate our similarities, not our differences. I believe it encourages empathy.” Something indescribable stirred in me as Ami’s brilliant work flashed across the large screen behind her.
When the session ended (after other photography rockstars including Jim Richardson, Chicago’s own Alex Garcia, and Vince Musi had shared their testaments to the power of photography), I walked around downtown Chicago observing things I hadn’t noticed before in the fourteen years I’ve called the city my home–the gleaming expanse of grass where East Ninth Street meets Michigan Avenue; the sweetness wafting from the open door of a chocolate shop. Mostly, I noticed the people. With each passerby I considered our similarities. I looked them in the eye if they met my gaze. And I smiled. A wave of shame washed over me; I’d walked these same streets more often with my eyes on the sidewalk than on the people I passed. It’s easy to hide in a crowded city.
When I finally floated home later that evening the smell of rotten bananas smacked me in the face. “I’m not the only one who’s been hiding,” I thought, carefully lifting the limp fruits from behind the kombucha tea pitcher. Those bananas were pitch black–only their shape gave them away. I considered peeling and freezing them–my go-to move when there’s no time to rescue them with a banana bread or scone. Instead, I slipped my apron over my head and turned on the oven. I was alone in my kitchen, but I wasn’t hiding anymore.
Banana Walnut Granola
5 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/2 cups walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup flax seeds
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup mashed bananas, about 2 medium
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- In a large bowl combine oats, walnuts, flax seeds, coconut, cinnamon, and salt.
- Heat the coconut oil, brown sugar, and bananas in a small saucepan, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Add banana mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
- Spread on a large jelly roll pan or two small pans.
- Bake for 60-75 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until deep golden brown.
- Let cool completely then store in an airtight container.