Sunday, January 25, 2009
Ode to oatmeal
All the amigos are oatmeal eaters. I can't think of a better food to eat before a race. It's filling, lasts several hours, gives long term energy, and is just plain good for you besides. My amigo brethern prefer the instant kind: blueberry, specifically from Trader Joe's. Now, instant oatmeal has it's place in our gastronomic society. When you have to leave at 5 AM for a 10 AM race in Bumfuq, WI, you can't be eating at 4 AM. We know all the Holiday stations in WI. They are multi purpose stops: bowel, bladder, and replenishment. We will fill up a coffee cup with with hot water and then dump an instant packet or two into the hot water and proceed to get our nourishment. Now, FWK has to make a comment here. "Matt/Flash/Everything about me is small" does one thing in a big way. He puts 4 or 5 packets of instant oatmeal into a cup. What he creates could easily patch a nail hole in a tire or a hole in a tiled wall in your bathroom. How he can digest the oatmeal mortar he makes, I have no idea.
But, I digress. The best oatmeal I'v ever eaten was in Negril, Jamaica, of all places. It is the only time in my life I ordered oatmeal in a restaurant. I still don't know why. Anyway, the oatmeal came and the flakes were about the size of a dime! Absolutely the best in flavor and texture ever. I remember the place was literally a castle. Someone built the place and ran out of money, so they turned the lower level into a restaurant. The Quaker oats we all grew up with pales in comparison to the oatmeal I ate that day. I have no idea where it was made. Jamaica imports a lot of their foodstuffs from Russia and Australia, maybe that's where it came from.
Anyway, a couple weeks ago I spotted the oatmeal pictured up above at Byerly's. It's called "Wheat Montana" and was right next to the Quaker oats. It cost a couple bucks more the the Quaker oats. The flakes looked thicker then the regular stuff, so I bought it. Let me tell, it is great stuff! Definitely chewier and with a nice flavor profile. This oatmeal inspired me to make granola, something I haven't done in 25 years. Here is the recipe I used, from Cooks Illustrated:
1 cup walnuts , broken into 1/4-1/2-inch pieces
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup blanched almonds , halved
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup raisins
1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix first 6 ingredients together in large bowl.
2. Heat maple syrup and honey together with oil in small saucepan, whisking occasionally until warm. Pour mixture over dry ingredients; stir with spatula until mixture is thoroughly coated. Turn mixture onto an 11-by-7-inch jelly roll pan, spreading mixture in an even layer.
3. Bake, stirring and respreading mixture into an even layer every 5 minutes, until granola is light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Immediately turn granola onto another jelly roll pan to stop cooking process. Stir in raisins, then spread granola evely in pan; set on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Loosen dried granola with a spatula; store in airtight container.
FWK has never cared for walnuts or shredded coconut, so I bought whole, unroasted almonds and chopped about 1 1/2 cups into the granola in place of the walnuts and slivered almonds. I omitted the coconut and added craisins along with the raisins for a little tart flavor. It also seemed like it needed some salt after I made it the first time. I put in 1/2 teaspoon, and the flavor was noticably better. I also ground 2 Tablespoons of golden flax seed and added that to the mix.
I always have granola for breakfast while we are on vacation in Anguilla. Sitting out on the deck looking out at the sea while eating granola with milk is very, very nice. I always figure that it counter acts the Heineken from the night before.