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Never have I needed Spring more than this year. I have been silently watching the branches outside my window, eagerly awaiting the new leaf buds bursting, the fresh blush of green amongst the dried, brown grasses. But I do live next to the Rockies and our Springs are generally punctuated by storms of heavy wet snow in and amongst the warm sunny days, and this year is no exception. And after a winter colder than I can remember… in so many ways… I am so ready for the warmth to slide in and rest amongst the new buds for awhile.
So while I wait for the warmth to return on the outside, I find myself on many a cold morning returning to the comfort of warm cooked oats for breakfast. There is something so elementally satisfying about oats… whether using rolled oats, steel cut oats, or oat bran…. that warms from the inside out. I usually cook my oats in water, with a little grey Celtic sea salt. And instead of adding maple syrup or honey, I like to top my plain cooked oats with prunes that have been stewed with a small slice of lemon and a few crushed green cardamom pods or a small stick of cinnamon if I am feeling decadent. So easy to make stewed prunes… just place the desired number of prunes in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a small boil, then reduce to barely a simmer for about 20 minutes. Adding the spices and lemon make the prunes taste more like a special treat and a far cry from the “grandpa” food association. And a hefty sprinkle of lightly toasted or raw walnuts gives the oats just enough protein-ness to assuage that sleepy, hollow feeling that can sometimes accompany a morning bowlful of oats.
I like to cook steel cut oats in a mixture of water and goats milk. Sometimes I toast the oats in the saucepan before I add the liquid. With steel cut oats, I make a topping of dates, vanilla and a pinch of ground cardamom made just like stewed prunes, only adding the spices after the dates have been taken of the heat. Stir in the spices and the dates turn into a paste like consistency. Wonderfully fragrant with just the right amount of sweetness. Or instead of the date topping, I add chopped apples, ground nutmeg, a drizzle of maple syrup and dried blueberries in to cook with the oats. Warm cooked apples with oats are so delicious!
I also eat oats on occasion in the evenings, just before bed if I have had an especially stressful day. I cook them up and eat them sprinkled with a flavorful salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Relaxes me like nothing else.
Ok Spring… take your time… my oats will keep me warm and peaceful until you’re ready.
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