Happy Birthday, Ali MacGraw ~ Granola Parfaits

Ali MacGraw was born today, in 1939.  She is a beautiful woman, both inside and out.  Feast your eyes:

I met Ali in 1985 when I moved to California and temporarily lived with my Aunt Lynda, who lived down the street from Ali.  We walked together to an exercise class.  It nearly killed me.  I was born in 1954.  Ali was born in 1939.  She put me to shame in that class!  (You can still buy Ali’s yoga dvd, books, and movies on Amazon.)

A lot of things have changed since those days.  Ali’s house burned down in a Malibu fire (along with her beloved Scottish Terrier, Caboose).  She moved out of California.  My Aunt Lynda lost her husband, and then suffered a stroke.  I got married, had a wonderful marriage and the most incredible son I could have asked for.  I lost my husband, had to sell my house and move into an apartment.

We lost touch with each other.  See Ali in more recent days:

I hope Ali is healthy and happy.  Aunt Lynda is recovering magnificently from the loss of her husband and stroke.  I actually love living in the city, and my son is doing well.

I remember stopping at Ali’s house on our way home from exercise class. She served us granola with yogurt and berries, along with some herb tea. Here’s my recipe, in honor of her birthday (from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa):

GRANOLA PARFAITS:
1 cup quick-cooking (not instant) rolled oats
1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons good honey
8 to 10 strawberries, small-diced
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 pineapple, small-diced
2 cups plain yogurt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Toss the oats, coconut, almonds, oil, and honey together in a large bowl until they are completely combined. Pour onto a sheet pan and bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring once.

Combine the strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple in a bowl. In 4 ice cream sundae glasses, layer first the fruit, then the yogurt, and the cooled granola alternately until you fill the glasses. Serve with a long spoon.

~Use fruit that is in season. Mix it up!~

Happy Birthday, Ali. You changed me for the better more than you will ever know.

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