There’s always an awkwardness when you start something new. It’s the inevitable struggle to find your economy of movement in a new space; to develop new habits in thought and action that allow you to be efficient at what you’re doing.
Which table gives you the best space to work in? Which is most central to the things you need?
Which tools and bowls do you actually need? Are they clean?
Which ingredients do you start with? Wet or dry? Do you keep them each in a separate container or mix them as you go?
How many times do you walk back and forth to the cooler to get those ingredients? Are they in the cooler?
What does twenty-two kilograms of oats look like? What size container do they need?
What does .25 kilograms of molasses look like? What size container does it need?
And how do you scoop it out of all the corners when you finally add it to the mix? Because that shit is thick and sticky.
This was my morning making granola for the first time. All of these steps finally coming together in a giant red mixer that looks like a Kitchenaid tripped out on steroids.
But the truly challenging part was spreading the granola mixture on trays to bake.
“I’m going to show you the beginner way to spread it,” says Kelsey, laying wax paper on cookie trays. “It’s not the fastest way but it’s the best way for learning.”
She scoops granola from the mixing bowl and piles it in a heaping mound on each tray. Then she starts spreading granola on the tray in front of her.
“Make it thick along the edges,” she says, pulling and shaping the granola along the sides. “You want to keep it thinner through the middle. So you can see the paper through the oats.”
She spreads the rest of the granola with claw-like fingers, combing through it and thinning it.
Thick on the sides. Thin in the middle. So you can see the paper. Got it.
And I start spreading granola. Imitating her motions.
“Well, kind of,” Kelsey says as she moves her first tray out of the way and starts on a second. She points with an oat-coated finger. “You’ve got too much paper showing there.”
If you spread the granola too thick, it won’t bake through all the way. Patches will remain wet and sticky.
If you spread it too thin, it’ll get too dry. It’ll burn.
The learning curve of efficient movement is a bitch with granola.
But all you can do is jump in and struggle. Spread the best you can and bake.
The first batch of cinnamon raisin out of the ovens has wet patches. Kelsey finds them as she’s breaking the sheets of granola into smaller bits for packing. She pushes the pieces into a corner of the table-long bin she’s working in.
Bummer. What happens to the wet pieces?
“We save them for the staff,” she says. And hands me a piece.
The punishment could be worse along this particular learning curve.