Saturday, October 03, 2009

VeganMoFo Day Three: Dried Cherries = Yes.

I don't know about you, but I want to know when summer's going to come. Seeing as it's October now, I'm thinking I may have to wait until next year? I have some sort of vague recollection of my neck getting sweaty like twice in the past few months, and of wearing a skirt or two. But I have several-to-many distinct memories of saying things like, "Wow, why is it so cold out?! It's (insert name of month that should not be cold)! I need to go back and get a scarf..." I've had a theory for a while now that the weather is broken, and it's strengthening by the day.


It's October right? And even for this month which is technically the fall, I personally feel that we're having weather that is unseasonably cool. It's also that tricky in-between kind of temperature, where it's cold enough outside to make it cold in your apartment, but not nearly cold enough for the landlord to crank up the steam radiators. Long story short, in the morning I wake up cold! And when you're cold in the morning, a wonderful cure is a hearty warm breakfast... like good old fashioned oatmeal!

Yes, I'm serious. I never had oatmeal as a kid. Now, before you go jumping to conclusions, no my mother was not actually a pack of wolves; she was a good woman who got up every morning and made breakfast for me and sis. Oatmeal just wasn't on the menu. We had hot grape nuts. Did you? Didn't think so. Anyway, I recently discovered just how satisfying a nice warm bowl of oatmeal in the morning can be. And I'm not talking about that nonsense out of packets that's like 50% sugar and 25% sawdust. I'm talking about the real thing here peoples, and I'm not even going to put it in the microwave. Granted, while I do NOT have 20 or even 10 minutes to prepare this kind of thing 5 out of 7 mornings a week, it makes me feel like I'm really pampering myself to do it on a weekend morning - like today, for instance - especially when I throw in some fresh fruit.

Me, I'm a pretty big fan of the Bob's Red Mill. So I think that Bob's rolled oats are the perfect way to start this (very simple) process. It goes like so.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, including or not including about a quarter teaspoon of salt (depending on your preference). Here's how I tend to measure salt:

Once your water is boiling, add 1 cup of oats. Bring the pot back up to where it's bubbling a little, and then turn the fire down to a simmer. You can cook your oats for anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how mushy you want them. I like them real good and mushy, so I go for the full 20. This being the case, I find it's best to cover the pot when I turn down to a simmer. Make sure to stir every two to three minutes, to make sure it isn't sticking.

Once at simmering temperature, you can add fruit if you're using it. I've used apples before which is just wonderful. This morning I used fresh figs, four of them, as well as dried cherries. How you cut up your fruit is really up to your preference; I like mine cut into small-bite-sized pieces. The dried cherries I sliced fairly small, since dried fruit tends to pack a punch. Add your fruit to the mix early in the simmering process so that it has time to cook. Assuming, of course, that you want your fruit to be cooked. You could also just stir it in at the end.

It's lovely to add spices like cinnamon and nutmeg - pretty much anything you'd put in a pumpkin pie tastes good in oatmeal. Just use a light hand, as it's not hard to overdo it especially with spices like clove. I also sweeten it a bit with agave nectar. You can do this either while you cook or afterward.

This recipe will make two large servings. Just use the proportions of 2 cups water to 1 cup oats to increase or decrease servings as needed in your household. I must say, today's combination of fig and dried cherry was a bit of a stroke of oatmeal genius. The cherries sort of rehydrated and each bit was amazing. We've been getting figs from our landlady all "summer", but they're looking pretty rough now. They still taste great though, which makes them perfect for cooking.

Treat yourself right in the morning, and your stomach will love you for it all day.


Heather said...

MMMMMMM That looks sooo yummy!!

jeanette said...

ugh...I HATE grape nuts.

I have a horrible habit of not eating breakfast and have been forcing myself to make oatmeal every morning. It really is good. I like it with blueberries and slivered almonds. But the dried cherries sound wonderful (too bad they are so bloody expensive!)

melissa bastian. said...

Heather: yeah totally!

Jeanette: really? They're kind of awesome; they just have to be prepared right. But ooh, oatmeal with blueberries and almonds sounds fab! And I bet you could do it with fresh, dried, or frozen blueberries depending on whether they were in season and what was easily at hand.

Yeah, dried cherries are slightly in the realm of spendy. Luckily you only need a few of them for a pot of oats. I only used like eight for my whole batch this morning.