Monday, January 4, 2010

The High Cost of Breakfast

I wasn’t planning to post until later this week once Regan was back from her mini-vacation within a vacation.  She’s gallivanting around Antwerp and enjoying my Flemish neighbors to the south.  However, when the dog woke me up at 4:45 this morning, simultaneously begging to be taken out while cowering in his basket and wishing he could stay inside the apartment until spring arrives, I was hit with a moment of inspiration for a post.  That is what happens when my cowardly dog does his business, trots back indoors, garbles up his breakfast and then falls asleep all within the space of 8 minutes.  While I, in the meantime, am left wide awake with nothing but my thoughts and cold feet.  At least it gave me time to think about my breakfast, and then I decided it was going to be an oatmeal day.

Here is my shiny can of steel-cut beauty.  (Please
forgive the low-quality iPhone pics.  I need to recharge my camera batteries, but I’m too lazy to crawl behind the television and unplug our hard drive in order to utilize the one American adapter we seem to have in a European house full of American electronic goods.) 

Last spring I had a craving for steel cut oatmeal and couldn’t find it anywhere in Amsterdam.  My parents made an emergency trip to the one Trader Joe’s within a 90 mile radius of their house for this can and the cost of shipping was probably three times as much as the actual purchase price.  I am doing my best to become less reliant on care packages from the States, but there are just some things it’s really hard for me to do without.  Certain foods gives me a link to home.  One of Niek’s friends swears up and down that this oatmeal is sooooo easy to find here in all the health food stores.  Well, I’ve been to about 20 billion health food stores in Amsterdam, and I’ve only ever found steam-rolled oats.  (In case you were wondering, yes, I really do prefer the steel-cut to the rolled variety…the higher fiber content makes you feel fuller longer).  None of my Dutch friends like oatmeal.  They turn up their noses and say it’s really only a food for babies.  Fine, Dutch people, you can just go ahead and eat your bread and cheese every morning for breakfast.  It will just be more oatmeal for me…when I can find it.

I did see a few tins of it in the window of the American/British store a few weeks ago.  Actually, recently I seem to be finding everything I’ve been missing at that store.  Once my current tin is up, I’m going to have to suppress my Midwestern cheap-o gene (a.k.a. I can’t buy anything unless it’s on sale and  I have a coupon) and fork over the Euros for more. 

Because oatmeal doesn’t require any kitchen skills, I can’t really call this a post about cooking.  It is, however, one of my favorite cold weather breakfasts.  In case you’re really hungry for a bowl of warm cereal, this is what you do:

Bring two cups of water to a boil.
Dump ½ c. steel cut oats into water.
Stir until mixture begins to thicken.
Turn down heat and simmer for 30 min.
Stir occasionally (or once you get out of the shower, come in from taking out the dog, finish your yoga video, etc.)
Mix in whatever strikes your fancy—I’m partial to milk, honey and berries.
Eat and enjoy the benefits of a breakfast consisting of a crazy amount of fiber. 
Repeat every morning you have a craving for oaty goodness.

What’s that you say?  You’re not a grad student with loads of time to waste in the morning on a breakfast that takes half an hour to prepare?  What!  How do you people in the real world of normal working hours survive?  No worries.  I’m too lazy to actually make this every morning, too.  ½ c. of uncooked oats yields two days worth of breakfast for me.  I just spoon the leftovers in a plastic bowl and refrigerate.  The next morning I heat it up with a bit of milk.  Sometimes it’s even better after a day…or four, depending. Look how tempting is appears against the cold, wintry sky:

I hope you are enjoying your new year and finding your own ways of staying nice and warm wherever you are.  Regan is apparently the only one around here, who is excited about being cold.  I guess living in Nigeria will do that to you.

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