For anyone who knows Emma Straub’s writing—her books include Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, The Vacationers, and, most recently, Modern Lovers—you may also know that among her many talents is her ability to make her readers quite hungry. At heart, the novels are stories of tangled families and friends coping best they can with ordinary challenges and extraordinary circumstances, with shiny new romance and tired love, and with lives that feel static and overwhelming in turn. But thanks to a combination of characters with food-related interests and evocative descriptions, food appears to deliciously ground it all. Modern Lovers features Jane and Zoe, one of two married couples at the center of the novel, who own Hyacinth, a restaurant in their neighborhood of Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. The novel is spotted with caprese, fresh pressed juices with St. John’s wort and bee pollen, bowls of polenta and mushrooms, carnitas tacos with watermelon salad, piles of blueberry pancakes, wood-fired mussels, and peach tarts. To name just a few examples. Are you hungry yet?
So when Emma and Riverhead Table invited us to join them for breakfast in May, we leapt at the chance. On a bright, warm morning, Emma, her husband Michael, and her young sons River and Miles, welcomed us to their sweet home in Brooklyn. We piled into their kitchen to make perfect granola, fluffy pancakes, bowls of yogurt with berries, and the best sausage we have ever had. Michael brought us all coffee from the deli down the street to fuel the morning. And when the last pancake had been plated, we climbed to their rooftop patio and toasted Modern Lovers with mimosas.
On our way out, we asked Emma to share her recipe for granola—a family staple—with us. Here’s what she told us:
I'll call this Mike's granola recipe, but I'm not really sure where it came from. Granola is one of those wonderful foods that you really can't murder unless you burn it. Otherwise, it'll taste good no matter what. I don't really like to measure things, and this is a perfect recipe not to measure.
Mike's Granola Recipe
A few cups of old fashioned oats—let's say 2 cups. You know, a bunch. Enough to spread out in a thin layer on a baking sheet, but we'll get to that part later.
1/2 cup honey or so
A dollop of oil—canola, vegetable, whatever.
Handfuls of other stuff—nuts, raisins, dried fruit, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, whatever crazy thing you're into
How to Make It
Squeeze the honey into a small pot on the stove. Over low-ish heat, add the oil and stir absentmindedly until it's all one thing and seems warm and delicious.
Put oats in a bowl. Add the honey mixture and nuts and mix around. DO NOT ADD raisins, dried fruit, or anything melty here. I mean, nothing terrible will happen to you, but I wouldn't.
Spread out the oats in a thin layer on a baking sheet, and pop in oven. Take a peek about 10 minutes later and give the oats a stir. Give it another 10 minutes or so, or until your kitchen smells like granola.
Take out the oats and let them cool a little bit. If you're excited, don't let them cool, just go to town and add all the raisins and cranberries and dried apples and chocolate chips your little heart desires. Mix. Eat.