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I Made Oatmeal Because I Love You

It’s Monday and everyone in my family is back to some place else.  The husband has returned to his office, the children to their respective classrooms.  Since I work from home, having them all leave the house this morning is like a rambunctious office party come to an end.  The quiet has been restored and I am all that remains (along with a bit of a mess).

A good month has passed since I’ve spent some time with you at Mangoes and Mojitos.  I’ve been writing regularly for Madison Magazine about all the great food trends Madison foodies can look forward to in this exciting Midwest city.  Mostly I get to do what you all know I love most — talking with those who work hard to make us good things to eat and listening to their stories.  Nice work, right?

I’ve noticed that before a deadline, while I’m organizing the story in my head, I’m also laboring over a hearty dinner, like roast chicken and vegetables. But I’m not just throwing a bird in a pan, I’m researching countless recipes on how to do it well.  I’m obsessing over why some chefs butter their birds prior to oven time and why others do not.  I’m baking from scratch loaves of bread.  I’m keeping my hands busy which is some how freeing up my brain to work out the details and timeline of my assignment.

As we get closer to deadline, the feast is over.  My family goes into starvation mode.  I am working and am in “the zone”.  If you’re hungry for dinner at this stage in my assignment better get started on making your own cheese sandwich and expect no apologies nor sympathies from me.  This is when I myself am living only on cheese, granola bars and apples.  We power through.

The day before the assignment is due I begin encouraging myself to make it to the finish line with thoughts of baking chocolate chip cookies or maybe pulling out the brand new pasta machine that I got as a birthday present last year (finally!) as a grand reward.

At last, the assignment is in and mom (a.k.a. the woman who will gladly feed us again) is back in the kitchen and in business.  And so she begins from the beginning with breakfast.  Something warm and filling to bring us all back to life like this steel-cut oatmeal recipe made with whole milk and almond milk and what I like to call the love spices: cinnamon, ginger and a pinch of allspice.   Get a whiff of these lovelies snuggling up together in a simmering pot on the stove.  Feel all that warmness rising up from your sleepy core?  That’s love and it’s all for you.

From this month’s issue of Food & Wine magazine: Creamy Steel-Cut Oats with Dried Cherries and Almonds

  • 1/2 cup dried sour cherries
  • 1 cup whole milk or cream
  • 1 cup unsweetened, unflavored almond milk
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, plus more for topping

1. In a small bowl, cover the dried sour cherries with warm water and let stand until plumped and softened, about 15 minutes.  Drain the cherries and discard the soaking water.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the whole milk, almond milk, and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil.  Stir in the oats, cinnamon, ginger and allspice and the 1/4 tsp. of salt.  Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the oats are al dente and the porridge is creamy, 20 minutes.

3. Stir in the cherries, maple syrup and almonds and season with salt.  Serve topped with more maple syrup and almonds.

** I used dried cranberries as that’s what I had on hand, without soaking them.  I added them with the spices to the boiling milk.  I also used vanilla-flavored almond milk since that’s what was in the fridge.  This oatmeal is so good that I’ve added dried sour cherries (always available in my northern neck of the woods) to my shopping list.