The Capital of Crunch: Mark Bittman’s granola


“Crunchy: Used to describe persons who have adjusted or altered their lifestyle for environmental reasons. Crunchy persons tend to be politically strongly left-leaning and may be additionally, but not exclusively,  categorized as vegetarians, vegans, eco-tarians, conservationists, environmentalists, old hippies, bliss ninnies, tree huggers, nature enthusiasts, etc. Crunchy: as in, ‘I’m headed out to the crunchy store to pick up fair trade coffee and tea tree oil, do you need anything?’ or ‘I’m so sick of dating self-centered, urban, jerks. I need more crunchy men in my life.'” So says the Urban Dictionary

Once again, I’m the last to know. When my granddaughter texted me, “Gramma, that sounds so crunchy,” I had no idea what she was talking about. Eugene, Oregon is the Capital of Crunch. When the Sweetie went to graduate school here in the 70s, mainstream America blanched at the very thought of granola, tofu, The Grateful Dead, tie-dye, and weed—all warmly accepted in Eugene. It’s easy to fit in here: ride a bike (funky or fancy), wear Birkenstocks, don a weird costume (wait for just a minute, a parade will surely pass by), grow your own vegetables, drink Ninkasi beer, sport a Kitty Piercy bumper sticker, or buy tie-dye toilet paper at the Saturday Market.

Eugene was originally named Skinner’s Mudhole, then renamed to Eugene, using Eugene Franklin Skinner’s first name rather than his last name. Sort of like, Abe, Nebraska or Christopher, Ohio—anyone for Skinner, Oregon?


Tie-dye Man: Started tying and dyeing in the mid-60s to pay for tuition at the UO, graduated with a degree in Business, was an original Nike employee, became a millionaire, lost all his money in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, moved back to Eugene, sells shirts and bedspreads from the back of his van at local festivals, “I’m one of the few left who still does classic designs.”

Juggling man: escaped from a Romanian circus with his dog Blaze ten years ago, traded in his traditional wooden clubs for colorful plastic ones after an errant toss whacked an observer, lives on the edge of town in his Caravan, is a day-trader during the week.


Rasta man: known in Ska circles as “Where’s Bob”, loves to snuggle down in a pile of pillows and knit hats.

One of our favorite Eugene spots is Thistledown, a local produce stand out in the country on Coburg Road: corn, tomatoes, green beans, melon, roasted hazelnuts, and home-made doughnuts—what’s not to love.

Eugene is famous for its beautiful rivers. The Willamette, a tributary of the Columbia River, runs through Eugene and is joined by the McKenzie on the north side of town.


Any conversation about Eugene will include the University of Oregon. And you can’t talk about UO without a few quacks and a tip of the bill to Phil Knight, founder of Nike and the University’s major benefactor. He gets the credit (or the blame) for the extensive wardrobe worn by the Duck’s athletic teams. He and his wife Penny recently donated $500,000,000 toward a billion dollar applied science research campus. The Knight Campus will consist of three new 70,000-square-foot buildings adjacent to the UO’s current science complex. The campus will be outfitted with cutting-edge labs, research facilities, prototyping tools, imaging facilities, human subject interaction space and an innovation hub.


Autzen Stadium, home of Oregon’s “Fighting Ducks.” 


In 1947, UO athletic director Leo Harris and Walt Disney shook hands on an agreement that allowed Oregon to use the likeness of Donald Duck as the University’s mascot.

Matthew Knight arena

Knight Law Center

Johnson Hall

We enjoyed living here and enjoyed visiting, thanks in large part to our dear Eugene friends who graciously hosted us. Thanks to them as well for taking a few pictures of their favorite spots.

Mark Bittman’s granola
  • 5 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking or instant) or other rolled grains (i.e., wheat, rye)
  • 3 cups mixed nuts and seeds (i.e., sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, and sesame seeds)
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, or other spices to taste (i.e., cardamom, allspice, coriander, nutmeg, ginger)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup honey, agave, or maple syrup
  • salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups raisins or dried fruit (i.e., dates, cranberries, cherries, blueberries, apricots, pineapple, crystallized ginger, or banana chips). 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts and seeds, coconut, sweetener, and vanilla; sprinkle with salt. Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or a little longer stirring occasionally. The granola should brown evenly; the darker it gets without burning, the crunchier it will be.

Remove pan from oven and add raisins or dried fruit. Cool on a rack, stirring now and then until granola cools. 

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1 Response to The Capital of Crunch: Mark Bittman’s granola

  1. Kathy says:

    So you are on the road again huh?? The pictures are great and the history is interesting. Have a great time!!

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