Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bites from the past

     Above, granola and the newspaper make a nice start to 
         the day. Below, Margaret gathers some of the ingredients.

When I moved to Western Massachusetts for a job at the former Transcript-Telegram in 1979, I lived in a funky apartment in Northampton. The paper, in Holyoke, Mass., was a good little daily. The place was lively, filled with smart, mostly young reporters and editors who worked (and played) hard. This was in the days of typewriters, and at deadline, there was a cacophony of reporters banging on keys and ripping out pieces of paper. There was a rush for the one OCR (optical character reader) where you had to feed in your stories and then a rush for the couple of computer terminals where you needed to read your story before passing it on to an editor. 

But the reason for this post is not to wax nostalgic about the good old days of journalism – we did have our fun – but to talk about a connection to this era: granola.

The funky apartment fit my tastes nicely. The landlord had never gotten around to putting doors on the kitchen cabinets, but I kind of liked that unfinished look. It was in that kitchen that I grew bean sprouts in a  jar on the windowsill and made my own granola. I can't remember where the recipe came from.

I met my friend Margaret at the paper, and we formed a lifelong friendship even though we didn't work together very long. We were both there for only a couple of years before going to bigger newspapers, but it was so intense it seemed like much longer.

This winter, when I was in the hospital waiting for my transplant, Margaret was going through some recipes when she found the one for granola (recipe below). She hadn't made it in over 30 years, but she made a batch and brought me a jar. It was delicious! (Ah, and yes, it brought remembrances of things past.) Not too long ago, I called her house and got her husband, Nick, who said Margaret was busy "making Ronni's Granola." I got all excited and thought she was making me another jar, but really he was just using the name of the recipe. When I told her my misunderstanding, she did, of course, make me a jar which she brought to the infusion room one day when I was getting platelets. (She lives and works in the Boston area.)

Now that I have a little energy back, I've made it myself a couple of times. There was a gap in between both times, and after the second batch came out at around 11 p.m., I devoured a bedtime snack of granola and blueberries. 

On the health front, I went to the clinic Friday instead of my usual Monday, due to availability of platelets. My platelet count was 10. Well, at least it wasn't in the single digits. White count was stable, but hematocrit had dropped to a borderline 25-ish, after I was so happy it was 31 on Monday. I could have gotten blood Friday, but I actually feel OK, so I'm going to wait until next week. Katie drove home while I slept off the Benadryl. 

Here's the recipe for what we now call Ronni's and Margaret's Granola

6 cups old fashioned oats (not quick cook)
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds
1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup halved cashews or slivered almonds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sesame cooking oil
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Mix liquids and salt over heat
Pour over dry stuff and stir thoroughly until coated
Spread out on two greased cookie sheets
Bake at 350 degrees for 1/2 hour; check frequently and turn at least once
Add 1 cup raisins or cranberries


Anonymous said...

wow...I was really fretting that there would be no recipe...and then there it was! Now finding all that stuff, and dealing with the calorie load is all that's left to deal with. Enjoyed the post!


susiegb said...

ooh - I love granola! Have never tried making it but I will now!! Thank you Ronnie!!

Howard said...

Ronni, I'm happy to know you're feeling well enough to make granola. love the post and your writing always.

Margaret said...

The sesame oil is the key! Also, bake the granola in a 9x14 lasagne pan or glass dish and be sure to turnover the granola with a spatula times. That way your granola will be nice and crispy.
Ronni, we actually worked at the T-T together for less than a year -- but as you say, it was time enough to launch an enduring friendship. Remember how we would ring each other on our desk phones to meet in the ladies' room for a stealthy chat ... after deadline, of course. And we're still chatting 30years later!

Susan C said...

I just visited my niece in TN, and she tried unsuccessfully to make granola. She burned two batches!

But this sounds so delicious and nutritious that I think it's worth a try. I'll let you know how it goes (once I return home).