Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cambodian Weddings and Granola Making

It's Sunday morning.  Last night, it rained like mad, toppling the small plants on the terrace, including the chili plant that seems to be dying, despite my attempts to water and sun it.

At 6:00a.m. this morning, the sound of music, drums, cymbals even, and amplified talking poured through the windows of my home: a Cambodian wedding.  I was just writing to my good friend, Anu, about the phenomenon of Cambodian weddings, which appear to pop up more and more in the days approaching  Water Festival, another Cambodian holiday. (Yes, the upcoming week is a short work week.)  Is this an auspicious time?  It must be because up and down my street, and on the street behind and in front of my home, tents have been erected, and they are filled with people eating and dancing from the wee morning hours until more modest evening hours.  These weddings last 3 days.

Am I a horrible person to admit these loud festivities in the early morning hours annoy me?  Prevent me from sleeping past 6:30a.m. on what should be lazy weekends?  There are no zoning laws in Cambodia, or if there are, they are not enforced, so another result of these pop-up weddings is bottlenecks and bad traffic.

In any case, since I could not sleep, I woke up and made granola.  I scored a small electric oven from Dom, my friend who just moved back to Australia, and I've made a batch of very simple granola before.  I adapted the following recipe from Lauren Soloff,* of the Granola Project, using local ingredients, like Mondulikiri honey and palm sugar.

The mixture is currently baking in my oven and the house smells like cinnamon.

[Photos and recipe via Chef Speak]

Coconut Sesame Date Granola
Yields approximately 8 cups

6 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant)
2 cups sliced or slivered almonds (raw and unsalted)
1 cup dried unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup roasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
Generous dash of sea salt
1/2 to 1 cup agave or maple syrup** 
3/4 cup olive oil (or olive oil and canola oil blend)
1 cup deglet dates, pitted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine oats, nuts and seeds, coconut, cinnamon, and salt.
On the stove in a small pot combine the sweetener and oil and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and add to the oat mixture.
Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and put in oven. Bake for 30 minutes or a little longer, stirring frequently. Be careful the edges do not burn.
Remove pan from oven and add the dates. Cool on a rack. Transfer to a sealed glass container.

*  I am green with envy for that heart-shaped Le Creuset.
**  I used a mixture of palm sugar and local honey instead.  Real, quality maple syrup is hard to find here and expensive.

[Post-edit: In my electric oven at least, it is easier to burn the edges, so I'll turn down the baking temperature next time.]


  1. (The Le Creuset oven I got at TJ Maxx was $179!) the smell of cinnamon! And no, you're not a bad person for wanting to sleep in! I hope you're at least able to squeeze in a nap. :)

    P.S Following!

  2. Eek. I must be away to long; I had sticker shock, but I will definitely look for one when I'm back in Los Angeles next month. Good pots and pans, as well as baking products, are hard to find in Cambodia.

  3. the oatmeal sounds amazing! I made a batch awhile back and I still have 3 jars full, such a good investment!

  4. I know. Homemade granola is so great, such a simple pleasure, no?

  5. Before I saw the photo credit and came across the photo you posted I thought OMG WHAT HAPPENED TO JOCY'S HAIR? :)

    Homemade granola sounds yummy. The house smelling like cinnamon also makes me think of Autumnal weather and a warm fire for some reason. :)

  6. Hi Jocy - you are not alone getting annoyed about the wedding noise. It's a good excuse to go out of the house and chill out somewhere else :)

    Nice recipe. Where did you get the dried coconut? I know of a colleague who makes his own granola bar, too :)


  7. I think I found it at Bayon Market a long, long time ago. Then again, that's where I also found rosemary (!!) one day, but never again.


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