Thursday, January 20, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different

While going through some boxes in my apartment, I unearthed a children's cookbook from the 1960s. In addition to being amusingly dated (be sure to get an adult to light the oven for you!), this book included an old family comfort food: cinnamon and sugar toast. My mother made it for us kids when we were feeling sick, and my grandmother made it for her when she was little. Since I wasn't feeling well for a few days, I broke in my new toaster oven by making some toast for breakfast! So glad I had the cinnamon on hand from all my cooking adventures.

Speaking of breakfasts, I've been trying to make mine more nutritious. I used to never eat breakfast at all because I am not hungry early in the morning, but over the past few years, I've forced myself to put something in my stomach (even if it's a banana or a mug of chai) before two hours have passed after fumbling out of bed. I've been eating a lot of Joe's Os with milk since my instant oatmeal supply finally ran out. And, of course, for the days that I have more time, there is pumpkin pancake mix in my cupboard. Yum yum!

Also in the cupboard is a large canister of quick cook oats that I bought for a tuna patties recipe last fall. I figured it was time I gave those oats a new purpose (there really are so many of them in that canister), so I forced myself to make oatmeal.

I have never, ever like oatmeal. Once on a trip to Quebec in high school, we had oatmeal as part of a traditional fur traders breakfast, and it completely ruined my appetite. I don't think I ate another bite of the wonderful spread that followed – bacon, eggs, none of it passed my lips thanks to that lumpy, grey mush. I started eating flavored instant oatmeal after college because I heard it was more filling than cereal (which never fills me up) and was able to tolerate the maple and brown sugar after some practice. But quick cook oats? Cardboard has more flavor.

In my reading, I came across two intriguing recipes for dressing up oatmeal. One suggested mixing quinoa with the oatmeal, which I intend to try once I fit quinoa into my food budget. In the meantime, I decided to make oatmeal based on the second recipe, which had a lot of flexibility. So once my quick cook oats were prepared, I added the following:

  • a dash of milk
  • a dash of vanilla extract
  • walnut baking pieces
  • dashes of cinnamon
  • a drizzle of real maple syrup
  • the rest of my raisins (barely a handful)

It was pretty good! (And good for me.) It still lacked some flavor, even with all that, and I wished I had had some brown sugar to sprinkle in.

Another use I've discovered for the baking pieces is in pancakes! It wouldn't be bad in the pumpkin pancakes, but I also have multigrain pancake mix, which may be a better choice. At the demo station at work last week, they made multigrain pancakes with crushed walnuts and dried cherries. It was delicious! I was thinking when I make it myself, though, I will put in fresh or frozen blueberries in addition to the baking pieces. And definitely some dashes on cinnamon! Maybe a little nutmeg, too. The possibilities are endless!

Next week, we should be back to Indian dinners. I still have ingredients for channa masala and potato egg curry that must be used.

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