14 April 2010

past a simmering pot

#5 - Banana Walnut* (inspired by Juli).

I ran my oatmeal challenge idea by the kiddos over the weekend, and they dug it. They even agreed to participate by way of research, idea-conception, and periodic taste testing. We decided that in the interest of their willing participation, and of moderation, balance and good digestion, all whole grains would be welcomed to the challenge with open minds, arms and hearts (mmm, whole grains, they are SO good for our hearts!).

Further, I've come up with a few ground rules for myself:

1. I welcome and will graciously receive suggestions.
2. I will try at least one new hot breakfast cereal variety each week.
3. I will limit my oatmeal consumptions to 2-3 days/week.
4. I will compliment each breakfast with a fruit, a veggie and good protein, and thus, plan portions accordingly.

Part of the fun will be the issue of use. How can I use what I already have in this little challenge? What will I do if key ingredients run out? What else might I use?

These are seemingly simple questions, but the latter in particular
has great power. Variations of this question are keys that have unlocked doors to stairways we've ascended to the highest of heights. This question not only has the power to bring joy into a kitchen -- my kitchen -- but it has the power to open eyes, to transform lives and to change the world. At minimum, it affords the possibility for good oatmeal, yes?


Monday morning, I discovered that in a weekend Grape Nuts feeding frenzy -- namely two straight days, at least four square meals and one late night cocktail -- Paul consumed the last of our (my stash of) raisins. In a momentary panic (ok, I'm exaggerating), with no plans of shopping until some time next week, I was forced to begin my project with a look beyond oatmeal's most obvious companion.

In mornings and day times and evenings of late, I've been reminded that 1.) any time I am in harmony with perfect love, everything I need, I already have, and 2.) anything I need, but do not have will come my way in perfect time by way of this melodic love. These realizations have disarmed many past, present and even future disappointments, and gently placed them on a back burner to simmer.

And then what?

What would happen if rather than immediately reacting with, or stewing in disappointment when grace runs out, we trusted that grace is what stirred the unexplained craving for Grape Nuts in the first place? What if we stopped stashing and instead made use of and freely shared what we have until it is gone? What if we trusted that once it was gone, this same grace would relentlessly replenish, recharge, refill or lead us elsewhere -- to the fridge or the freezer or within -- to provide something as good or better than what we once had? What then would become of that simmering pot of disappointment? Might its contents eventually burn off under a low, constant flame to nothingness. Might we eventually be empowered to turn off the flame from this empty pot and appropriate our valuable energy and resource elsewhere?

Mid-Monday morning, with the leftover pumpkin puree on the top shelf of my fridge in mind, I went to baskets in my pantry looking for raisins and oats. I found plentiful oats, but only a handful of dried cherries and a small baggie with shredded coconut. I paused (a minor victory) before I retraced old steps to that simmering pot. On the way back to the stove, I considered (a second victory), I reconsidered (another victory), and then I trusted (a monumental victory!!). I listen to the small, sweet voice calling me toward the freezer, and there, I uncovered and rediscovered a bag full of dates.

Bob's Date Crumbles have been sitting neatly in my freezer since some time last fall. I've used them a handful of times since then in muffins and tossed them in a salad or a trail mix from time to time, but I have never thought to add dates to oatmeal. You see, I almost always have raisins. Unexpectedly, thankfully, this week I did not.

Those crumbles led me to the maple syrup in the door of my refrigerator. I love the marriage of these two key ingredients in corn muffins, why not in oatmeal? Why not in my oatmeal?

Well, it's Wednesday morning, and I've already had oatmeal twice this week. I just finished a steamy, creamy bowl that evoked audible "Mmmms," "Ahhhs," and many other sighs of unadulterated delight. It was so delicious, in fact, that I skipped the breakfast dishes and came straight to my computer.

Already, I'm having fun. I'm LOVING this project, and by God's grace, the pot on the stove is nearly empty, and we still don't have raisins.

#4 Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal (inspired by Lauren)

(with pumpkin,
crumbled dates, toasted walnuts, cinnamon,
all spice, sea salt, hemp milk and dark amber maple syrup)



*For breakfast this morning (#5 - Banana Walnut Oatmeal), I cooked my standard base - 1/3 c. rolled oats, 1/8 t. sea salt and lots of cinnamon, then added slices of half a small banana, about 1 tbsp. toasted raw walnuts, about 1/2 tbsp. brown flax seeds and a five-fingered pinch (aka "a paunch") of date crumbles. Finally, I doused it with 1/2 cup of hemp milk and drizzled in 1/4 tsp of maple syrup. WOW. Thank you, Juli.

**Neither my belly nor I are fans of cow's milk, so I've turned elsewhere. A friend suggested I try unsweetened hemp milk, which I tasted this week, and I LOVE. It is a light, creamy milk alternative worth considering. I plan to use it interchangeably with soy milk, but if cows (or goats or almonds or rice or butter...) are your thing, do your thing!

*** I used leftover canned pumpkin in #4 (thank you, Lauren). A little, a heaping tablespoon (not the measuring kind, but the eating kind),
goes a long way . I loved the way when blended in, it tinted my cereal a rich, autumn creamsicle color. It swept me away to a crisp morning with falling leaves and the balm from a wood burning stove in the air. I intend to frequent this variation when cool nights linger long into morning and fresh pumpkins come back into season.

**** In excess, I find maple syrup can be overbearing, can drown out other flavors and can quickly turn breakfast into a saccharine soprano. If you are like me, and you prefer more tenor to your oatmeal, consider drizzling with rather than pouring maple syrup into these two breakfast bowls. I used 1/2 tsp in #4 and 1/4 tsp in #5. Mmmm, good!!

12 April 2010


Went up to Oak Harbor to worship yesterday morning...

thank you.

09 April 2010

outside the box

Spring Break is nearing its end, and I'm not only still standing (well, sitting) at 10:39 p.m. on a Friday night, I'm writing... and smiling.

There has been great joy, and there has been grand peace in my home this week.
A few hours into Monday morning, I noticed. Willingness. Energy. Color. Creation. Consideration. Grander, greater joy and peace. It has been SUCH a good week.

Although we've enjoyed good time with family, with friends and with one another, we've done little out of the ordinary, and nothing in particular. Nevertheless, this week has been extraordinary in the ordinary. How can this be? I suppose any break from the norm is a good thing. But the thing is, we stayed home this week. We have been here.

Herein lies the key, I think: We have been here.

During our break, I have been mostly present with my children, and they have been present with me. And as I have been present -- come wholly and fully -- they have responded with more presence, more peace, and with love, which has drawn out even more of my me, which has drawn out even more of their them.

My presence. I'm realizing it is my peace. It precedes and is conceived in love. It is the best gift I can give to my children and to myself. I think it may be the best gift I can give, period.

When I am present, I see and think and love more clearly.

This week, I have seen in 3D that my children are creative and curious. I love that about them. They are constantly searching, inquiring, exploring, concocting and their minds are expanding exponentially. They are a collective, creative force. Sponges soaking in and wringing out experience and possibility. They are playful and profound in their prematurity.

When they are present, they ask questions, and they consider. As I've spent more time with them, I've also been asking many more questions, and I have been learning, observing, creating and considering.

I've loved this week. I've loved my kids. And today, as they posed questions and they dined on cold cereal -- their breakfast of choice -- I took a temporary leave of absence to considered and to pondered...

Cereal, again?! Really? How can they eat cereal EVERY day? How many days and ways can two kids eat cereal? It's cereal. They need a break. What about some variety. Something else... like... like oatmeal (you knew it was coming). Yes. How about some oatmeal... Man, I love oatmeal... For me, it all comes back to oatmeal, doesn't it. Is this normal? I mean this is the real deal. I love oatmeal. Am I obsessed? I don't eat it everyday...anymore. But once I do... Oh, whenever and however I do... I delight! It's just that I am so... so... present when I eat oatmeal. I'd like to try Juli's oatmeal... I love oatmeal. I love my kids. I really love my kids... They love cold cereal; they tolerate oatmeal. Maybe they just need to get outside the proverbial cereal box. Hmmm... Cereal. Oatmeal.... How many ways can two kids eat cereal? They just need some variety. Hmmm.... Variety. How about oatmeal? Variety. Oatmeal... Variety... Oatmeal... I love breakfast. I love variety. I love oatmeal. How many days could I eat oatmeal? How many ways could I MAKE oatmeal...

And there it was: A CHALLENGE.

And then I was back, and we had a great day.

And now I'm thinking about my joy and my children and Spring Break... and oatmeal. And I'm wondering how on Earth this post about these two little people whom I love so intensely ended up in the steaming breakfast bowl where my posts often do. I must be on to something.

#3. Spring Break Oatmeal. (Inspired way back when by Leah)
(serves 1 in less than 10 min)

1/3 c. Rolled Oats
2/3 c. Water
1/8 t. Salt
Cinnamon to taste
~ 1 T coconut oil
~1T unsweetened, shredded coconut
~1 T pepitas
~1/2 T Raisins
~1/2 T Goji Berries
1/4 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

Combine first four ingredients, and heat in microwave (~2.5 min) or simmer on the stove (~5 minutes). Meanwhile toast coconut (~1 min), then roast pepitas (~1.5 min) under 450 degree broiler until golden brown. Once oatmeal is cooked, stir in coconut oil, and top with remaining ingredients. Enjoy with the warm milk of your choice and a splash of vanilla, if desired (my favorite is ~1/2 c. unsweetened soy milk. Y
ou can also add more water to achieve your desired consistency).

06 April 2010


11. Rutabaga (check).

I learned that it's a member of the root vegetable family -- sort of like potato's cousin
and turnip's fraternal twin. From the picture, it looks a bit like an egg, but in person it looks more like a... root. It tastes and smells quite good. Radish-like. Radish light.

A blustery last Thursday evening, I had my rutabaga and visions of stew. I used half of it with assorted contents from my refrigerator and to my delight, my stew* manifested.

On day two, I chopped more rutabaga onto a salad with sunflower seeds, blue cheese, raisins and a host of fresh, crunchy veggies. Ahhh, another great salad! I think I'll use what's left in a stir fry some time this week.

Yes, r
utabaga added texture to my stew and spicy crunch to my salad. I like it's radishy flavor. I like that it can be used like a potato without taking up so much room in my belly. I like it's staying power. One rutabaga. One dollar. Three meals. A little goes a long way; that's good stuff. I'll definitely buy another. And now you know what I know. Enjoy.

*AT's Vegetable Barley Stew (mmm).
serves 4-6

1 c. Rutubaga (cut into matchsticks)
1 c. Carrot (cut into match sticks).
1 c. Sliced Cremini Mushrooms
1/4 c. Onion (chopped)
1 c. Frozen Peas
1 stalk Celery (chopped)
1 c. Cooked Barley
1/4 Apple (grated)
1/2 c. Red Kidney Beans
2 cloves Garlic
~3 oz. Firm Tofu (cubed)
1/2 t. Thyme
1/4 t. Marjoram
2 t.
Beef Better Than Bouillon and 2 1/2 - 3 c. Water
1/4 c. Red Wine
Salt and Pepper, to taste.
~1 T Olive Oil

Saute onions in olive oil until they turn tender and light brown. Add garlic, then carrots, rutabaga, celery, mushrooms and tofu (I don't recall the exact timing or order -- I don't imagine it matters too much), saute a few more minutes until veggies are tender. Stir in apples and spices for another minute or two, then add water and bouillon (veggie or beef broth will also work), wine and beans. Simmer 20-30 minutes to let flavors blend. A few minutes prior to serving, add barley and peas, and simmer until heated thoroughly. Serve and savor!

01 April 2010