I’ve been making the same oatmeal almost every day for the past few weeks and the time has come for me to share it with you.
There’s a good thing and a bad thing about this oatmeal recipe. The good thing is that it only has three ingredients, unless you also add butter (as the title above the title on this post says). The bad thing about this oatmeal recipe is that it features the single ugliest picture I have ever taken of food in my life. You’re about to see that picture, but I don’t want it to scare you. Just imagine it like those pods in the movie Cocoon, sitting at the bottom of the pool, waiting to hatch into aliens who will guarantee you everlasting life. At least I think that’s what happens in Cocoon? It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it.
There are two kinds of childhoods to have in America: the one where you’re allowed to have sugar cereal and the one where you’re not.
I’m the product of the former sort of childhood and Craig’s the product of the latter. If scientists were to study us to see how my consumption of Lucky Charms, Corn Pops, and Frosted Rice Krispies (yes, that was a thing) and Craig’s non-consumption of these breakfast sugar bombs affected us in later life, they probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I have an enormous sweet tooth and Craig usually wants to skip dessert. Also, I do crossword puzzles in pen, get to the movies twenty minutes early, and I almost always choose escalators over elevators when given the choice. Whether this is the result of eating sugar cereal as a child is anyone’s guess.
One reoccurring theme you’ll discover on Amateur Gourmet 2.0 is that I watch a lot of PBS cooking shows. I learned how to make a daiquiri watching Simply Ming, and then, watching Rick Bayless’s show, I learned how to make a most excellent breakfast taco.
If Ned Flanders became human and grew obsessed with Mexico, he’d have a show a lot like Rick Bayless’s. There’s an “aw shucks” charm to Bayless, but also a huge breadth of knowledge, which–at the end of every episode–he translates into something you can do at home. (Some have accused Bayles of cultural appropriation, but I don’t think that’s true of his show: most of it is a platform for Mexican chefs to show off what they do.) Anyway, this breakfast taco…
I’m no oatmeal expert, but I do make a lot of oatmeal. OK, maybe I am an oatmeal expert.
For a while, I was toasting the oats in butter (a trick I once wrote about here) which kind of makes the oatmeal taste like buttered popcorn. When I’m feeling indulgent, I’ll cook Irish oats and old-fashioned oats in a combination of whole milk and water, à la April Bloomfield’s English porridge. Lately, though, I’ve been keeping my oatmeal healthy: just water and then a few flavor-enhancing ingredients that make it feel special without making it too sugary or fatty.
Sometimes I wake up with a specific craving that has no obvious root. For example, on Saturday morning I woke up with a craving for cornbread. Where did that come from? Was it the fact that I’d been watching the Sean Brock episodes of “Mind of a Chef” at the gym? Actually, that was probably it–strike that first sentence–because in the episode I just watched, he harvested his own corn, shocked the kernels in liquid nitrogen, and made the most incredible-looking corn grits I’d ever seen. I didn’t have grits in my cupboard on Saturday morning, but I did have cornmeal, which is where this idea came from. Then all I had to do was find the right recipe.
Resourcefulness is a quality that emerges gradually as you get more comfortable in the kitchen. At first, you might make a panzanella salad–with big chunks of toasted bread, heirloom tomatoes, garlic, a little anchovy, some basil, olive oil, and red wine vinegar–eat most of it and then throw the rest away because panzanella doesn’t really keep. That’s level one of being a cook. But to graduate to the next level, you should put the leftover panzanella in the fridge and figure out something to do with it the next day. Option 1? Blend it into a soup (why not? It has all the makings of a gazpacho and a tomato bread soup combined). I went for Option 2: frying it into a cake.
My grandfather, who celebrated his birthday this week (Happy Birthday, Grandpa!), reads my blog on his Kindle only he can’t see anything past the jump. (We’ve tried to fix it; can’t figure it out.) So as a birthday treat for him, here’s a whole post in one paragraph. It’s a recipe I came up with last weekend because I had pork/fennel/garlic sausage in my fridge and I wanted to make tomato sauce with it and use that sauce to make something with eggs. I could’ve cracked eggs on top and baked it in the oven like this, but that sounded boring. So here’s what I did: I cut two sausages out of their skin, added them to a non-stick skillet with olive oil, and broke them up over medium heat until the pieces were brown all over. Then I added some chopped onion and a pinch of salt, allowed that to soften, then added 3 cloves of chopped garlic. Once that was fragrant, I added all the tomatoes out of a can of San Marzano tomatoes with a minimal amount of the liquid, plus some more salt. Then I cooked that down for a while, allowing the tomatoes to break down and the liquid to reduce, until there wasn’t any liquid at all in the pan. At that point, I added six eggs which I’d whisked together with more salt, turned the heat to high, and allowed the eggs to set, sprinkling in some grated Pecorino cheese. Gradually, I stirred the eggs around a bit and when they were just firm, I scooped everything on to a plate and served with thickly sliced bread which I’d broiled on both sides, rubbed with garlic, and drizzled with olive oil, sprinkling Pecorino on everything at the end. Voila. If you make this over the weekend, send some to my grandpa.
This morning I decided to treat myself to a blueberry muffin from the Village Bakery right here in Atwater Village. As I began to eat the muffin, it occurred to me that there’s a right way and a wrong way to eat a muffin. For example, if you were new to America and you’d never experienced a muffin before, you might unwrap the whole thing, unlock your jaw, and attempt to take a top-to-bottom bite similar to the bite the shark takes out of the ship in Jaws. That’s the wrong way to eat a muffin. Let me show you the right way.