"Property Of" by Alice Hoffman & crunchy honey nut granola
As a person still working on her first novel, I’ve recently become curious about the first publications of my favorite authors. The evolutions in their writing are fascinating, as are the themes that some writers just can’t seem to let go of – like Kazuo Ishiguro with memory or Amy Tan with Chinese family politics.
Alice Hoffman gained international fame with Practical Magic (which I adore) and though her first novel Property Of is very different in style and tone, you can see the fresh shoots of themes she later returns to over and over again: the tensile nature of women’s strength and a fairytale-like focus on characters dabbling with gritty or suburban forms of magic.
Property Of feels like a blend of Grease and Sin City. You have the contained world of teenagers/young adults without a single mention of parents. You have the sharp visuals that dive into sudden violence, sudden fantasy. The nameless young female narrator wants and gets McKay, the leader of a gang called the Orphans. 1970s New York City is thrown into high contrast and embodied in the mythical Avenue, rendered in crisp imagery and “the crackle of nighttime neon.”
It’s a youthful exploration of what we’re willing to forgive in the person we love, which flaws and mysteries, and then, finally, what we’re not. And while the nuances of wanting another person – all of another person – are explored with a deft and agile hand, it’s the narrator’s constant consideration of her identity that makes Property Of so much more than a corrupted story of young love.
The narrator doesn’t intend to become a member of the Property, the girls who belong to the Orphans, the women who “hiss when the word ‘sister’ is spoken,” and she holds to this even as she weaves herself inextricably into McKay’s world, into his heroin addiction and honor-driven actions, and even through long stretches of waiting for him. Nevertheless, she notes, “it is not so very despicable to belong.” Anybody who has struggled to balance the world against their identity, the things they love with the things they need, will know exactly what the narrator means.
Homemade granola seemed like a good, crunchy accoutrement to Hoffman’s ethereal, gritty story. It goes great with yogurt and fresh fruit, and also makes a good snack, whether you’re surviving on the streets or simply waiting for your lover to come home.
CRUNCHY HONEY NUT GRANOLA
- 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup raw pecans and/or walnuts
- ½ cup raw chopped almonds
- ½ cup raw chopped hazelnuts
- 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon honey (or maple syrup)
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, nuts, salt, cinnamon and ground ginger. Mix thoroughly to combine.
Stir in the oil, honey and vanilla. Turn the granola out onto the prepared pan and use a large spoon to spread it in an even layer.
Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, stirring halfway. The granola should turn lightly golden. Note that honey browns easily so keep an eye on it.
Let the granola cool before enjoying. This will crisp it up.
Adapted from Cookie + Kate‘s Honey Almond Granola recipe.