aboutWe are Akila and Patrick. Ourminds (and waistlines) expand as we travel, cook, and eat our way around the world with our two dogs.
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cherry amaretto granola

Cooked granola

It's been one year since we started this little website.  Deep breath.  We can hardly believe it.  A year ago, we didn't know what we were doing and, more importantly, what we were getting ourselves into.  Oh, how things change.  On the upside, we have rediscovered our love for photography, writing, and web development, all very, very good things.  And, we have joined an incredible community of travelers and food-lovers from all across the world.  Thank you for tagging along on our journey and for being such a wonderful part of our lives. 

Dried cherries and almonds

On the other hand, we now find ourselves discussing whether an activity or recipe is blog-worthy and obsess over minutiae like title tags and spacing.  Yesterday, when we were feasting on an amazing tofu dinner (and, no, that is not an oxymoron, tofu naysayers), we blinded the other diners because we kept pulling out the camera to capture every dish in the 5 course meal.  They were giving us evil looks which we withstood, all in the name of this blog.

Amaretto

Other things have changed, as well.  A year ago, we were in Jacksonville, wrapping up our jobs, ready for the trip that would begin in September.  Now, we are enmeshed in our travels and have new plans.  Big plans, I say --- plans that we never expected to make.  We thought that this trip would be over in October 2010 and we would come home and settle back into our lives.  We had set aside money to buy a house and reintegrate ourselves into our careers.

Grating nutmeg into dry granola mixture

I can pinpoint the exact moment when that plan changed.  We were in the Marlborough area in New Zealand in early November, searching for Pinot Gris amidst the green, lush vineyards.  We parked our campervan and watched the stars quietly for a little while.  Then, Patrick said, "Wow.  This is the life.  I wish we could keep doing this for longer than just the next ten months."  Maybe it was the wine or those sparkling New Zealand skies but that idea took hold of both of us.  For the last five months, we have been trying to figure out how to make this a lifestyle rather than a year-long hiatus.  And, we think we have a plan to make this traveling thing work for longer than one year.

Heaped granola before cooking

The plan, as it stands right now: we are in Japan and China until the end of July, then in southern Africa until the end of October, and then some sort of road trip through the United States until July 2011 (because there are too many beautiful places in our country that we haven't seen yet), and then we head to Europe for a year on the Continent.  That means a year eating brie and croissants and freshly stretched pasta and sausages and Belgian chocolates and wine.  But, the best part of this plan isn't the food.  The very best part is that Patrick and I aren't going to be traveling alone anymore. We're taking these guys with us:

Akila and Chewy

The logistics are, frankly, insanely complicated: we are going to transport two dogs without subjecting them to air travel in the cargo compartment, ship a car, and still meet Schengen and DEFRA restrictions.  Truth is, we don't care about the extra effort and cost because Chewy's going to eat prosciutto in Rome and Abby is going to run through the Connemara in Ireland.  And, we're going to be happy because being away from our pups has been one of the hardest parts of this trip.

CherriesGranola with cherries

Like our new plan, this cherry amaretto granola is a bit indulgent but still good for the heart and soul.  And, it's even good for your body.  The underlying sweetness of the amaretto and the plump cherries round out the glorious clumps of granola made from oats and brown rice cereal with no sugar or fat.  Let me repeat that for you: no sugar, no fat, amaretto, cherries.  Deliciousness.

Cherry Amaretto Granola

Adapted from Coconut Almond Granola, by Nicole at Baking Bites 
Time: 1 hour
Serves: 8 to 10*

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 1/2 cups crispy brown rice cereal
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg (preferably fresh grated)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dark agave nectar
2 tablespoons amaretto liqueur
1 cup sugar-free apple sauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup dried cherries, chopped into bite size pieces

Directions

1.  Preheat the oven to 325F and line a large baking sheet (or two smaller baking sheets) with parchment paper.  [I use a jelly roll pan.]
2.  In a large bowl, combine oats, crispy brown rice cereal, and spices.
3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together agave nectar,amaretto, apple sauce, and vanilla extract. 
4.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients along with almonds and stir to combine. Spread on prepared baking sheet(s) in an even layer.
5.  Bake for 30 minutes then turn over the granola carefully using a large wide spatula.  [Don't worry if the granola splits apart when you turn it over.]  Bake for an additional 15 minutes, until crisp and golden. Depending on the size of your baking sheet, the center might not be fully dried if your granola layer is thick, so if necessary remove the edges of the cooked granola to a cooling rack and let the rest cook for another 10-15 minutes until done.
6.  Cool on pan or on a wire rack.
7.  Break cooled granola apart into bite-size clumps and mix in chopped cherries.

* I recommend making the whole batch and popping the rest into an air-tight container in your freezer to prevent the granola from getting stale, assuming that you don't eat it all in one sitting like some people I know.

06/02/2010 03:03
Wow guys! Wonderful news :) You will have to make a stop in the Middle East, we are moving to Bahrain this fall! Enjoy Japan!
06/02/2010 03:03
Wow guys! Wonderful news :) You will have to make a stop in the Middle East, we are moving to Bahrain this fall! Enjoy Japan!
06/03/2010 00:33
First off, I love granola and can't wait to try this recipe once I eventually make it back home. Second, congrats on your future plans. I'm actually in southern Africa now but leave at the beginning of August so we're barely missing each other. Loooking forward to hear your thoughts on Africa. I love it here!
06/04/2010 09:01
Thanks all! We are so excited about this next trip.

Manali and Terry, we hope we'll be able to make it to the Middle East because it is an area we have always wanted to see. Congrats on your big move!

Laura, I am sorry that we're going to miss you in Africa. Hopefully, we'll meet up somewhere else in the world.

Stephanie, I do hope our paths cross in Europe. It would be a great Emory RTWer meetup!
Akila's recent blog post: that alternate universe: tokyo
06/04/2010 09:53
Congrats on your plans - they sound very exciting. If I only I could bring my cat with me on our travels...but that's one big area where cats and dogs majorly differ.

We plan to be in Southern Africa in August/early September. If it works out, we would love to meet up with you. Akila, we could share lawyer horror stories. Or better yet, stories about NOT being a lawyer!

p.s. Thanks for the response email, I've been meaning to reply. Your lost sunglasses count made me feel better. : )
Amy's recent blog post: 5 years
06/06/2010 22:20
Happy blogaversary and congratulations on your exciting travel plans! :)

I can't believe it's been a year already! Mine is coming up soon as well, and it feels like we just met yesterday!
06/17/2010 08:11
Well HALLELUJAH for google feed recommendations! I'm so glad I switched from bloglines, because I don't believe I would have ever come across your exceptional blog and all that it contains. I've loved everything that I randomly clicked on in the past 15 minutes, but this news of you both including your dogs in future travel...it is wonderful, to say the least. We have two of our own and it is always difficult to leave them whenever we have to travel out of country. I look forward to the day when your two will be included in the blog!
rowena's recent blog post: Video of Ladurée shop in Milano
06/18/2010 05:30
Thanks Amy! We hope we're able to meet up in southern Africa. We should be there for at least a month before we head off on our safari so let me know as the time gets closer. And, I would prefer discussions about not being a lawyer! :)

Thanks Gourmantic. Congratulations, as well. There are so many wonderful bloggers who started out last year and I have loved sharing the year with all of you.

Thank you so much rowena. I read your comment and felt so warm and fuzzy inside. Taking the dogs is going to be a challenge, but worth it, we think. It's a year away and we are already talking about what to take and how to keep the dogs happy! And, I'll be putting up our whole process of planning, taking, and traveling with the dogs to help other furkids join in on the adventures. :)
Akila's recent blog post: why i decided to travel the world
06/22/2010 15:33
I made this last weekend for my family and they loved it. Thanks for this recipe.
03/14/2011 00:25
This recipe looks very tasty and healthy. I would try to make this on a weekend so that my whole family can try this.
08/17/2011 05:48
First of all thanks for the healthy tropical granola.I was looking for its receipt it is so delicious and i am happy to see your dog too...
06/10/2012 15:47
Your plans sound so exciting and I'm really glad you guys will be sticking around the travel sphere. If I'm lucky maybe I'll cross paths with you in Europe next summer (I LOVE dogs).
06/10/2012 15:47
While I dig the food, I'm even more excited to hear that your dogs are doing well (especially your Abby). I'm glad they get to travel with you.
06/10/2012 15:48
I totally didn't realize you guys had only been at it for a year. Amazing stuff! And traveling with your dogs is going to be great. :3
06/10/2012 15:48
Your plans sound amazing! Great idea to change your mindset from one-in-a-lifetime trip/vacation to lifestyle.
Keith's recent blog post: State of the Savage: May 2010

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