Saturday night, I saw the San Antonio Spurs beat the Chicago Bulls, at the first professional basketball game I’ve ever attended in my life. We were in the front row, and when the Spurs players came out to warm up, they stopped to greet fans right in front of us, turning to crowds of pen-holding kids waving their arms and papers, competing for a chance to get an autograph.
Early into the night, I told my friend the red-headed guy looks like Charlie Crews from Life, and then in the game, I saw him score a lot of points. But I think it was when some fellow Chicagoan started booing him that I knew I liked Bonner (for the record, I think you sound like you’re two years old when you boo someone for playing well). Sean Elliot, such a classy guy, took a picture with my friend, who is the biggest fan of the Spurs I know, maybe the biggest fan there is. Ime Udoka chatted with some kids who made a sign for him. And Tony Parker, after speaking French to some girls who said Ça va? to him, smiled right at me, inches away.
I’m not usually one to like things immediately, but, after a night like that, you wouldn’t blame me for becoming something of a Spurs fan myself, would you?
I think the one thing I’ve discovered about basketball fans is the same thing I know about any other kind of fans, even cooking ones. Finding something you really like—that you connect with—happens rarely enough that we like to latch onto it when it does. For people who love a sports team, maybe they love the city it comes from, maybe they love the individuals who play on it, maybe they want the camaraderie of spending a Saturday night with a bunch of people, cheering for the same cause. (I’m still pretty new to this crowd, so I’m just guessing here.)
But these are all the same things that make people fans of other things, too. Like for long-time cooks: some of us love it for the pure physical pleasure of tasting, savoring, feeling satisfied. Some of us have been drawn to cooking by memories of those who cooked for us or with us. And then, of course, some of us like food for the community it creates, the enjoyment of eating with others and experiencing something together. Whatever the case, being a fan of something—be it a person, a team or an activity as basic as making food every day—reminds us that we’re a part of something bigger than just us.
Before going to the game Saturday, I enjoyed a homemade breakfast of chocolate granola, eaten with milk and a big spoon and slurped down to the bottom. It comes from Molly Wizenberg, the food blogger behind Orangette and a person I’d gladly claim to be a fan of any day, and it’s a pretty simple recipe—simple enough that even though I didn’t have quite enough honey (meaning the granola never quite came together in golden clumps like it should have) and just threw in bittersweet chocolate chips rather than chopping my own bits to throw inside, it still turned out quite well.
My result was a little more like a delicious oatmealy cereal, filled with crunchiness and flavor and the perfect texture when put in milk. So if you’re looking for granola, I’d recommend you follow the original instructions where the honey is concerned, but, truthfully, even if you don’t, this makes a great way to start a day, whether you’re finding a new something-to-love later that afternoon, or not.
Chocolate Granola Cereal
Adapted from Orangette
3 cups rolled oats
½ cup chopped almonds
½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
6 Tablespoons mild honey (*This is the original instruction: follow it for granola results. For a more cereal consistency, just use between 2 and 3 Tablespoons.)
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup, or more, bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, coconut, sugar and salt. Stir well to blend.
In a small saucepan, warm the honey and oil over low heat, whisking occasionally, until the honey is loose. Pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to combine well.
Spread the mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden. Set a timer to go off halfway through the baking time, so that you can give the granola a good stir; this helps it to cook evenly. When it’s ready, remove the pan from the oven, stir well – this will keep it from cooling into a hard, solid sheet – and cool completely.
When cool, transfer the granola to a large bowl, storage jar or zipper-lock plastic bag. Add the chocolate, and stir or shake to mix.
Store in an airtight container, and serve with milk.
Yield: about 5 cups