There’s a young lady I used to work with, who holds a special place in our family’s hearts.  In addition to being a friend and coworker, she also would happily house-sit our dogs (and in later years, sometimes our children), and love them almost as much as we did.  We were able to take an occasional vacation knowing that our pets and children were in good hands.  We’ve both moved on to different (and better) jobs, but still stay in touch.

She wrote to me last month to let me know that her mother, Nora, had lost her battle with colon cancer at the age of 74.  Her obituary mentioned her love of gardening and antiques, and that her entire life’s purpose was serving Christ and others.  When I saw Nora’s photo, I was struck by the resemblance my friend bore to her beloved Mom — the same big eyes and pretty smile.


What my friend didn’t know, is that I had actually had a conversation with Nora a while back.  One day, completely out of the blue, she emailed me at work.  She was worried about her daughter in that irrational way that only moms are.  She wanted to feel me out and ask me to kind of keep an eye on her daughter, since she couldn’t be there with her.  I told her how well-liked her daughter was, as evidenced by how the firm had created a position for her at a time when they were letting others go.  I told her she looked happy and healthy and that she should take great pride in what a lovely young woman she was.  We chatted online a little longer, and satisfied, she was ready to sign off.  But you didn’t really think I was going to let Nora off the hook that easily did you?  I told her in closing — “By the way, if my mother had contacted one of my coworkers, I would have KILLED her!  BUT — having now walked in parent shoes, I completely understand,” and assured her that I would keep her secret.  And I did.  I only told my friend about our conversation after Nora passed away.

I asked my friend if Nora had a recipe that she might like to share.  She responded with Nora’s recipe for Granola, a family favorite:


If only our parents knew how much those stained, hand-written 3 x 5 recipe cards would mean to us some day.  I treasure the recipes in my Mom’s hand.  I type my recipes now, but perhaps I should make an effort to annotate them by hand, so that they will reflect something of my personality and being for my children to treasure down the road.

I was intrigued by the granola recipe.  I hadn’t previously seen one calling for skim milk, wheat germ, and soy flour (I think you could probably substitute whatever kind of flour you have on hand, if you don’t have soy flour).  Well, according to the Adelle Davis Foundation, Adelle Davis “invented” granola in the 1940s, and it was popularized by the hippie movement in the 1960s.  Sure enough, the recipe for Adelle Davis’s Grandaddy of Granolas calls for powdered milk, soy flour, and wheat germ, along with the oats, honey, and oil that are also in Nora’s recipe.

My first attempt at the recipe yielded a very dry granola.  I checked with my friend, and she said Nora’s varied from batch to batch, but was usually stickier and clumpier, so I added an additional 2 tablespoons of oil and 1/4 cup of honey to the mixture and put it back in the oven for 15 minutes or so, and it came out really delicious, like can’t-stop-eating delicious.  For optional mix-ins I used 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, 1/2 cup chopped red walnuts, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, and 1/2 cup chopped dried apples.

In loving memory of Nora, beloved mother and friend, may she rest in peace.

Recipe type: Snacks
  • ⅓ cup oil (I used canola oil) (plus up to 2 tablespoons, if too dry)
  • ½ cup honey (plus up to ¼ cup, if too dry)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups oats (I used Quaker old-fashioned oats)
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup coconut (I used flaked unsweetened coconut)
  • 1-2 tablespoons cinnamon (I used 1-1/2 tablespoons)
  • ¼ cup powdered nonfat milk
  • 3 tablespoons soy flour
  • Optional add-ins
  • Nuts (cashews, peanuts, almonds, pecans)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Raisins
  • Apple bits
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. (I found 300 degrees worked better)
  2. Place oil, honey, and vanilla in a small saucepan, and heat over medium heat, stirring until combined.
  3. Place remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour honey mixture over and stir until combined and all ingredients are sticky. Transfer to a long shallow baking pan, and bake for 30 minutes (I baked my batch for 45 minutes), stirring every 10 minutes, until granola is toasted and fragrant. Allow to cool, then store in airtight container.

IMG_5362 Mix together dry ingredients


MIx in warm honey mixture


Toasted to “I-can’t-stop-eating” perfection


In loving memory of Nora and in honor of her precious daughter Jenni

7 thoughts on “NORA’S GRANOLA

  1. Thank you Karen. Her daughter is a very special young lady — Nora raised her right — and I was honored to be able to make and write about one of her mom’s recipes.

  2. I love this post (of course you know I love all of yours), but I especially like the bittersweet tone of this one. We should all be so lucky that someone would care enough to write a sweet story about us after we pass. I think she would like this one as much as you like her granola.

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