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!!


Juli said...

LOVE it! So 2 thoughts on the above post: am glad on the oatmeal front. another thing i did with oats when i lived in africa was did raw oats with milk (actually powdered milk, do other alternatives, trust me), a little raw sugar and raw peanuts, and bananas or whatever fruit on hand. i got so used to eating non-cooked oatmeal while i was over there that it took me a while to get used to eating regular oatmeal again. i still do it sometimes and am instantly transported back to that time and space in my life.

and i love grace and sharing. two very important ingredients in a good journey.

Lauren said...

FYI - I've started putting tofu in my oatmeal for a little protein...very satisfying! :)

Abi T. said...

Raw oats... tofu... ipskay the powdered milk... an old suggestion of cacao nibs... a little birdie sang me a song about sprouting raw almonds(!!) and another sang the praises of Cap'n Crunch or Cocoa Puffs or something... Oh my goodness, the possibilities! This is TOO exciting! Thank you.

OK, I'm on it. I've tried a few more concoctions since last week, and I'm open to more ideas. Big plans for groceries are in my future, so I'll get cookin' (or not) and keep you posted.