Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate

My mother's name was Rose. When I started first grade I immediately became friends with twin girls, Janet and Roseann, and their mother's name was Rose, too. We spent countless days and nights over the next 12 years hanging out at each other's houses and we always had one Rose or another watching over us.

The twins' mother, Rose, was born in Italy and came from a large family. Rose loved to cook for and feed the masses andndash; grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and kids like me andndash; who seemed to wander in and out of her home with some frequency. Every Sunday for lunch she made pepperoni pizza from scratch.

After graduation I stayed in touch with the girls and often saw them and their mom when I came home to visit my own folks. When Mom passed away in 1989, Rose was at her funeral and we've seen each other many, many times in the last 20-plus years.

In August, while I was in San Pedro for my aunt's birthday, I visited

Rose. She was always a diminutive woman andndash; not even 5 feet tall andndash; but

now she seemed smaller and frail. She wore a heavy knit cap even though

it was summer.

Rose has been battling cancer. She's been on and off chemo, and on

again. Her daughters took her to New England last month to see the fall

colors and I know it was a bittersweet trip for them. No one wants to

verbalize it, but everyone knows it might be their last trip together.

So what does this have to do with granola? When I went on my annual

girlfriends' weekend in September, I brought along some of my homemade

granola. Roseann liked it so much, she took the leftovers home. A week

or so later, she called and asked for the recipe, but it was easier for

me to make a batch and mail it to her than sit down and figure out the

recipe. For years now I've been improvising, improving the granola with


I've mailed granola to Roseann twice in the last two months. She

called last week and said she really needed the recipe. Rose had

discovered the granola and loved it and asked Roseann where she bought

it. Roseann told her I made it and Rose wanted the recipe.

I'd do anything for Rose, and that includes sitting down and figuring

out what exactly goes into my granola, the amounts and how long to bake

it. It started with some recipe a long time ago, but it's morphed into a

freestyle nut-and-seed adventure that comes out a little differently,

yet very much the same, each time I make it.

So, for Rose and for you:

My Granola

Remember: mix can be customized. Use your favorite nuts balanced out with oats. All nuts are unroasted, unsalted.

2 cups uncooked rolled oats (not instant)

andfrac12; -1 cup pumpkin seeds

andfrac12; -1 cup (shelled) sunflower seeds

andfrac14; -andfrac12; cup flax seeds (brown or gold or both)

andfrac14; -andfrac12; cup wheat germ

andfrac12; -1 cup whole almonds

andfrac12; -1 cup walnut pieces

2 tsp. cinnamon

andfrac14; cup honey

1 cup light coconut milk

2 tsp. vanilla

Optional: 1 teaspoon salt

Mix all the nuts, grains, cinnamon and salt (if using) together in a big bowl.

Put andfrac14; cup honey in measuring cup that can go in microwave. (Note: Use local honey when you can andndash; the darker the better. Commercial honey has been processed, so much of the beneficial stuff is gone.)

Add enought light or regular coconut milk to make 1 andfrac14; cup.

Put measuring cup in microwave for about 20-30 seconds to liquefy the honey.

Add 2 teaspoons vanilla to liquid in the measuring cup and stir to blend together.

Pour the liquid into the bowl with the nuts and grains, stirring with a wooden spoon to moisten all dry ingredients.

Prepare two rimmed baking pans by greasing lightly with canola oil.

Bake at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes total. This is the tricky part because you want the granola to all be brown, but not burned around the edges. Check granola every 15 minutes. Use a spatula to gently move granola around, pushing the granola from the edges toward the center because it tends to brown around the edges first. Rotate pans from front to back and up and down on racks. You want most of the moisture baked off, but granola will seem a little moist when you take it out of the oven. It will get dry and crunchy as it cools off. Let baking pans cool on wire racks. When completely cool you can put granola in airtight container or freezer bag and store or freeze.

Reach Michele Thomas, the Del Norte Triplicate's publisher, at

mtandshy;hoandshy;masandshy;@triplicate.com, 464-2141 or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.