Last spring, Suzi Tasker was just a mom trying to make something so her gluten-intolerant 4-year-old son, Noa, could eat. Now, the Kennewick woman is an entrepreneur selling her homemade granola blends at farmers markets and on the internet.
"I wanted to have something healthy, something he'd like," she said. "I began researching whole grains and playing around with them."
What she came up with was a recipe for granola she calls Running Dummies Blend.
"I know," she laughed, "It's a pretty unique name."
Tasker explained that it is named for her parents.
"Dad, who's 77, is an ultra marathoner and my mom runs to keep up with him," she said.
Running Dummies is a vegan, wheat-free blend. Another blend Tasker named Agate Beach Agave. The name is a combination of one of her family's favorite places, Agate Beach near Newport, Ore., and the organic sweetener blue agave, which she uses in her granola recipes.
"The agave has a low glycemic index, which is good for anyone watching their blood sugars," she said.
"Agate Beach Agave isn't gluten-free, but it's a true traditional, hearty granola. I think it's one of the best I've ever eaten, even if it is my recipe," she said.
A third recipe is her Running Dummies blend, which is spiced up with one of Rudy Pena's pepperblends.
"I call that one Hot Mama's Spicy Blend," she said. "It's vegan and gluten-free with a kick."
Tasker and Pena make their products in the Pasco Specialty Kitchen, a commercial kitchen with added support services for marketing, packaging -- anything someone such as Tasker needs to succeed in a specialty food business.
Her latest products -- Holy Roller Granola Bars and Manna Morsels, a granola-based cookie -- came about accidentally.
Earlier this month, Tasker was using the big commercial mixing machine at the Specialty Kitchen to mix a batch of Running Dummies.
"It was the first time I'd used it. I decided that day that mixing 85 pounds of granola by hand was getting to be too much. I put everything in, set the timer and went to another part of the kitchen to do something," she said.
When she came back, Tasker found the industrial mixer had ground her granola into dough.
"I was amazed and half sick," she said. "Those ingredients are expensive."
Determined to salvage something from the goof, Tasker divided the dough in half and shaped part into generous sized cookies, the rest into equally generous bars.
"They baked beautifully," Tasker said.
Tasker has been selling her granola blends at the Pasco and Richland farmers markets. But they are closing for the season next week.
Her products also are available online at http://shopthenorthwest.com/home.php.
The website also is affiliated with the Northwest Regional Food Hub, a retail shop featuring specialty foods from area vendors. The Food Hub is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays and 4 to 6 p.m. Fridays, at 603 Goethals Drive, Richland. Or contact the Food Hub via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gypsy Girl Granola is sold in 2- and 5-pound packages. The Agate Beach Agave runs $16 and $40; the Running Dummies Blend, regular and spicy, is $20 and $48. The cookies are packaged three to a bag and cost $9; the 12-ounce bars are $9 each.