My friends, you might already know this, but let me tell you anyway: the Internet is truly revolutionary.
While in Seattle I met a former Peace Corps volunteer who served in Africa over 20 years ago. To keep in touch with his family he wrote letters and would wait months to receive a response. To make calls back home he was able to go in to the capital city twice a year. His only other method of knowing what was occurring in the States was via Newsweek, which would arrive a month late.
Fast forward to the experience of your modern day Peace Corps volunteer. We can now video chat with our family at any time of the day, peruse the daily news, instant message with our friends while they are at work, and watch our nieces and nephews grow (incredibly fast) via Facebook. We know what is happening in folks’ lives regardless if they are in the States, Puerto Rico, England, Guatemala, or the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, the wonderful access to the World Wide Web continues my unhealthy addiction to “clicking.” Nonetheless, the pros far out weigh the cons.
This small prelude was somehow supposed to lead me to telling you about the power of the Internet in Paraguay; specifically a small little video that has gone more than viral, aka Gangnam Style. How do I put this? Paraguayans LOVE Gangnam style. Ok, I, Nalena, love Gangnam Style as well.
When Jon showed me the video four weeks ago, I was more than amused, so I subsequently showed it to our two host sisters, and they loved it as well. Several days later my host sister tells me she heard the song on the radio, I figured she was confused. There was no way that Paraguayans were listening to Korean pop music that they didn’t understand on the radio. I was so, so wrong.
Soon thereafter Jon and I are watching a high school parade and it seemed like every “float” was blasting the song. Except not only were they playing it but they were dancing to it. Yes, they more than know the very emblematic Gangnam dance.
This, my friends, is the true power of the Internet. Also, Psy: you should come to Paraguay, we will be much more welcoming than Britney was.
In other news, that I am able to share with you as a result of the Internet, Jon has become the master at making crunchy delicious granola and I have been reaping all of the benefits. I love his granola because it’s in “slab” form so if you want to take some with you “on the go” it’s easy to eat, or you can choose to crumble it up into your granola with some fruit. It serves dual purpose; it’s fancy like that.
Without further ado, I leave you with Jon to show you the ways in making the most perfect granola.
Crunchy Granola Bars
2 mugs (3 cups) oats
1 mug (1.5 cups) shredded coconut
½ mug (3/4 cup) assorted seeds (Here, we used flaxseed and sesame seeds, but you can customize as you wish.)
1 mug (1.5 cup) nuts (We used peanuts because they’re easily available in Paraguay, but use what you want.)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/3 to ½ mug (1/2 to ¾ cup) honey
½ mug (or more) (3/4 cup) dried fruit (We used dried plums—I guess that’d be prunes, but dried plums sounds so much more appetizing—since they didn’t have raisins when we went to the supermarket.)
*The recipe is measured in mugs, because that’s how I actually measure the recipe. Amazon seems to think that a coffee mug
is about 11 ounces normally and 12 if you fill it to the brim, so if you insist on using actual units, the amounts are shown in parentheses. Disclaimer: that’s an affiliate link, so if you decide that your life would be more complete with a mug that has a genuine picture of a genuine Shetland pony on it, (and how better to make granola?) then we’ll be able to find out that somebody somewhere bought that fine example of mug-makery.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Start by toasting the oats, coconut, and seeds in a pot on the stovetop, stirring frequently. As they become aromatic and start to brown, add the nuts. Cook a couple minutes more, then pour off into a bowl.
Add the butter, sugar, and honey to your now-empty pot, and return it to the stove. Once the sugar has all dissolved and the mixture begins to foam, add your dry ingredients back into the pot and turn off the heat. Stir to combine.
You’re looking for a texture that’s slightly sticky, but not soaking. If you like a crunchier, sweeter granola, you can add more honey. If you prefer it more on the crumbly side and not as sweet, you can use less.
Grease a baking sheet. Mix in your dried fruit, and pour the mixture into the greased baking sheet. Spread it out, but don’t worry about pressing it down yet—you’re going to stir it a couple of times during baking. Stick the sheet in the oven and bake for about half an hour, stirring every ten minutes.
Be careful to incorporate the edges into the center when you stir, since those are the parts that will burn first. Once everything is sufficiently browned, take it out of the oven. It might not seem very crispy yet, but don’t worry. Press it down into the sheet with the back of a spoon, then let cool.
If everything’s worked out right, when it cools it will harden into granola bars. Cut it up into chunks the size of your liking.