Mishmash Party Mix (with Bugles!)

“For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level, I elevate myself. At least that’s why I’ve put in the effort day after day: to raise my own level. I’m no great runner, by any means. I’m at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”

-Haruki Murakami in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

So what do I think about when I think about 2015? Well, my feelings are a bit all over the place. It was a year with many great experiences and achievements but some really low points thrown in there as well. Early in the year I experienced heartbreak for the first time as well as the loss of a family member. What ensued after this were many terrible hangovers and some pretty awful and awkward blind dates (thanks for nothing okcupid).

Putting all of those things aside though, a lot of really great stuff did happen. I visited Charleston, Nashville, Boston, and Nola, watched two friends get married, started a new job, reached my 100thblog post, overcame my fear of roller coasters, and moved into my own place, just to name a few.

I also ran a lot this past year. It’s not exactly something new for me; I’ve been running regularly for about 10 years. It felt different this year though. When it previously used to be about times and placements, this year the running was more of a means to improve myself and put a focus on who I am and who I want to be. When you spend an hour trying to forget how much it hurts to be running, you do a lot of thinking to distract yourself. But this thinking leads to healing, leads to decision-making, leads to enlightenment and the euphoric feeling of release when you burst into tears midway through your 6th mile.

Today is the last day of a 37-day run streak, a pledge my friends and I took to run at least a mile a day from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. It wasn’t easy and some days it took all mental effort I had to force myself to shuffle around the block for a mile at 6:30 in the morning. Looking through my log of miles, I certainly do not see drastic increases in mileage and my legs do not feel well rested in the least but I don’t think it’s the physical and tangible aspects that really matter. Those ten minutes or so a day of running allowed me the time to clear my head and reset, to put yesterday behind and get myself ready for tomorrow.

I go into 2016 with clarity, knowing that the world is going to throw me a mishmash of wonderful and terrible things but when mixed together, they are the things that shape this crazy and wonderful life I’m making for myself. Making the most of all of the good and bad things that come my way and striving to use that to be the best me that I can be is my resolution for the year.

But speaking of a hodgepodge of things coming together to create one beautiful and wonderful thing, let’s take a look at this crazy party mix I made for a New Year’s Eve celebration last night! It’s insane to think that something that is a mix of so many disparate elements can come together and form a cohesive snack is possible, but it’s true. You get a bit of salty, sweet, savory, buttery, spicy, and bitter in every bite. It has good crunch, an even mixture of small and large pieces and, most importantly, the star of this party mix is Bugles. I can’t even remember the last time I had Bugles (probably in an airport come to think of it) but there is so much nostalgia packed into this light, crispy, and buttery snack. The reminiscence hit so hard I couldn’t help but doing this…

Regardless of how you eat your Bugles, definitely make the effort to seek them out for this recipe. The other ingredients are totally negotiable so play around with the mixture as much as you like. Just like life, party mix is what you make it.

Mishmash Party Mix (with Bugles!)
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Makes enough to feed a large crowd

5 cups original flavor Bugles
3 cups Snyder’s Butter Snap Pretzels
2 cups unsalted roasted peanuts
1 cup sesame sticks
1 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds
1 cup wasabi green peas
6 Tbs. butter
6 large garlic gloves, peeled and crushed
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. mustard powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. smoked paprika
¼ tsp, cracked black pepper
3 cups crushed taro chips

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the Bugles, pretzels, peanuts, sesame sticks, pumpkin seeds, and green peas. Mix to evenly distribute.

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and continue cooking over low for 5 minutes to infuse the butter with garlic flavor. Transfer the butter to a bowl and discard the garlic pieces. Add the soy sauce, Dijon, mustard powder, salt, paprika, and pepper to the butter and whisk to combine.

Pour the butter mixture over the dry ingredients and use your hands or a large spoon to toss the ingredients with the butter to evenly coat them. Divide between 2 sheet pans and bake for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool. Once cool, add the taro chips to the mixture and stir to combine.