Saturday, February 21, 2009

Granola and surveys

I am sitting here eating (a lot) of granola and trying to figure out what to do with the morning -- go to the gym, work on dissertation stuff, or just stare at the walls and watch Battlestar Galactica online. It has a hectic week, even with Monday's holiday (was that this week?)

I did manage to achieve my granola goal of last week and made a decent batch that I've been plowing through scary fast. Granola is the new Kettle Korn. I can't stop eating it, and it's not even that good. I mean, it's definitely good for what it is -- but at the end of the day it's just granola and I should be able to walk away.

Here's the recipe: I started with Martha's sister Sarah's version of the Eating Well Magazine recipe, but had to use what I had on hand and don't have coconut or maple syrup. So I used honey and molasses instead. This makes me realize that to get the clumpy, carmel-y texture that the store bought stuff probably involves lots and lots of sugar, butter and/or oil. You can definitely add more of that (or anything you like) to this and get away with it. But add anything soft like raisins after everything has cooled.


Dry ingredients:
  • 5+ cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup chopped raw almonds
  • 2/3 cup roasted and salted pepitas
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • big pinch of kosher salt
Wet ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2-3 tablespoons molasses
  • teaspoon vanilla
Post-cooking add-ins:
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apple
  • 1/2 cup banana chips
Preheat the oven to 275. Mix the dry ingredients in a big bowl and mix the wet in a bowl or a big measuring cup, and combine with the dry so that everything is coated. Spread the mixture into a baking sheet, and bake at 275 for about 45 minutes. Remove and stir the granola, and then bake for another 30 to 45 minutes. It will be nice and brown.

On the work front, I started surveying people in earnest yesterday. I'm not 100% sold on the survey, but don't really have any more time to waste fiddling with it and being done is more important than being perfect.

It went ok. People were willing to fill it out (and very happy about the $10 gift card -- I'm not sure I would get too many takers without it), but it is time consuming to have to hunt down folks in groups of 3 or four at a time. Folks come in for a big hour-long group meeting, and then at some point afterwards -- maybe immediately, maybe a few hours later, or maybe another day -- they have another small or one-on-one meeting where they clean up their application information, are given the voucher, and hear more specifics about the program. I need to catch them somewhere in between these appointments. The result being that I have to do a fair bit of leg work for ten surveys or something like that. I am trying to secure a bit of time after the big group presentation to try and grab everyone at once. I really have no idea how I could pull this off if I were not already at the office. Doing this at two other housing authorities will be a big challenge. Then again, if the other housing authorities don't issue any vouchers over the next few months, it's a moot point.

So I have no idea if I'll be able to get a decent sample size over the next few months. It looks like Jake and I will be in NYC for the summer as of sometime in June, and then the wedding is in late September ... I should ideally have the surveying done by the summer. Fat chance. Ideally, it should have been done already. But I am already trying to find funding for a follow-up study in the fall. I think I'll at least have enough of a sample for that, even if I don't hit a number to be representative for the city or county. The goal for the follow-up study would be to find out where folks ended up living, how they found or looked for housing, and their experience looking for housing. Now that I'm talking to people a little bit, I can see the things that a survey just isn't going to pick up. For example, the person who reeked of alcohol and was drunk enough that he forgot what the gift card was when I finally handed it to him. And the woman who says she is moving to Brooklyn but has never been there and has no friends or family there. Both are probably in for an uphill climb.

Ok -- granola and first of many coffees for the day are done. I think I will attempt the gym and running some stairs, since the Big Climb race is next month and I'd like to beat my time from last year. 69 flights of stairs up to the top of the Columbia Tower! More on that later.

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