I don’t know about you, but my head started to crack a bit like an egg last night thirty minutes into the debate. And instead of throwing that egg into a skillet by continuing to watch (“this is your brain on Trump”), I decided to turn off the TV and crack a few eggs for real.
Making cookies is self-care in 2020. True, cookies are self-care at most times, but that’s especially true now. These cookies — chunky oatmeal raisins, maybe the best I’ve ever made — are from Arezou Appel, the founder and baker of Zooies Cookies (the recipe was published this week in The LA Times), a cookie shop in a gas station in Cheviot Hills.
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.
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.
When I first heard about savory oatmeal, I felt confused. Onions in oatmeal? Is that even possible? What planet are we on?
I grew up eating oatmeal out of little packets, the kind you tear open, pour some water on and stick in the microwave. My preferred flavor was maple brown sugar, but occasionally I’d opt in for the apple cinnamon kind. Thankfully, no packets said “garlic and onions” or the younger me would’ve run screaming into the hills. The current me is slightly more open-minded.
Look, I’m going to level with you. These are pretty pictures I took last weekend, on a Sunday morning, after I’d made coffee for myself and read the Sunday New York Times and decided I wanted some breakfast. In the refrigerator, I had leftover English Porridge from April Bloomfield’s cookbook, with its great salty sweet kick. Instead of heating it back up, I thought: “What if I turn it into pancakes? Oatmeal pancakes?” Seemed reasonable enough.
If you’ve never purchased a vanilla bean, sliced it open with a paring knife, scraped the seeds out and dropped them, with the pod, into a pot of milk or cream which you then heat for an ice cream base or a custard or a pudding, you’re missing out on a great food moment. The smell is comforting, pure and sweet–the total opposite of what you get when you light one of those synthetic vanilla candles–and there’s a visual spectacle as the black vanilla seeds permeate the white liquid. Having purchased vanilla beans on sale at Penzey’s in Seattle (3 of them for $9), I decided to go for a vanilla bean moment last Sunday morning with a pot of oatmeal.
As someone who’s starred in “Oliver” twice–as Oliver in 5th grade and Fagan in 7th grade–I know a thing or two about porridge (aka: “gruel”). Rule one: don’t ask for “more” or you’ll be dragged by your ear out into the snow and sold to a mortician. Rule two: it’s best not served from a giant vat in the middle of a workhouse; it tastes much better–in fact it tastes quite terrific–if you follow the following instructions from April Bloomfield’s glorious new cookbook, A Girl and Her Pig.