One of the exciting new things we're starting here at the Joy Kitchen is our "Building A Better Pantry" blog series. This promises to be a very long and informative series, and we think...
Married life (all one week and two days of it) isn't terribly different than unmarried life was. I still wake up every morning in a more or less purposeful mood, and I go to sleep at a reasonable hour after taking all my vitamins and brushing my teeth. The world is much the same.
I do feel a sense of wholeness, though. A wholeness without melodrama. It isn't as if I felt incomplete before getting married, but now every action involves someone I have promised myself to. At the very least, someone who has vowed to accept me and the range of baggage that comes with me. That's no small thing.
I feel a sense of tenderness when making tea for both of us in the morning. I felt it last night when I made a simple pot of cabbage and potato soup. It isn't the enormity of the act itself. It's the knowledge and awareness of undertaking an act for both of us. For real. For keeps.
This is one of the reasons that cooking and feeding people has always been more than just a simple biological necessity to me. Beyond the obvious nourishment we get from eating, the act of sharing a meal with people we care about sustains us in a completely different way. When we eat together, we are extending faith in our relationship to one another. We are actively nourishing our bodies and our humanity. We are calling upon centuries of tradition and ancestry and union between families, cultures, and nations. It's not just about food--it's about harmony. Truce even.
But beyond that, being married has forced me to examine the way I eat and how I take care of myself. Well, wedding excess has factored in quite a bit, particularly after a truly memorable night of severe indigestion. Point being, we've been changing things up a bit, and our stomachs thank us. For me, being healthy involves eating breakfast. I find that eating a good breakfast gives me energy and staying power for the long day ahead. Basically, eating breakfast means I can conquer the world in my own way.
I have relatively simple breakfast desires. Usually, a bowl of homemade yogurt and granola topped with blueberries is all I require. Or perhaps a thick slice of homemade sourdough with almond butter and honey. Lately, thanks to the gift of a juicer, I've been adding fresh juice blends to the mix.
But one breakfast food that doesn't get enough attention is muesli. I was first introduced to it when I visited Germany, and I was instantly smitten with its simplicity, heartiness, and energy-rich healthfulness. It tastes wonderful, too. In concept, muesli is so obvious that you may have a head-slapping moment of recognition: take oats and dried fruit, soak in milk or yogurt overnight, have instant breakfast. It makes you wonder why they bothered to invent "instant" oatmeal--you know, the oversweetened stuff in pouches with no texture? Oatmeal practically is instant already!
Even better, you can apply a number of treatments to muesli, including the one in the recipe below. This is, however, a fancified version of a very simple dish. You can use any type of nut (toasted almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pecans...) and any type of fruit (berries, stone fruits, grated apple...), and you can also use a variety of dairy or nondairy products to soak the oats in (milk, half-and-half, almond milk, soymilk, yogurt...). The recipe below has you soak the oats in water because you're serving the muesli with half-and-half, but when I'm just making plain old muesli, I normally soak my oats in yogurt.
You also don't need to toast the oats--they're fine untoasted, but the toasting process really brings out their nuttiness. The important thing to remember is that this dish relies upon a little forethought--you really need to soak the whole affair overnight--it plumps up the oats and dried fruit (if you're using dried fruit). It's a small price to pay, however, for a nearly instant breakfast.
Other articles you might enjoy: Basic Granola
The night before you want to serve the muesli, melt in a medium skillet over medium heat:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Add, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and fragrant, about 10 minutes:
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
Remove the oats to a small, heatproof bowl and pour over:
1 cup boiling water
Cover and refrigerate the oats overnight. In the morning, remove the soaked oats from the refrigerator and stir in:
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread on a baking sheet:
1/3 cup shaved coconut
Toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the coulis.
In a medium bowl, combine:
1/2 pint (1 cup) fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon sugar
Mash with the back of a wooden spoon until combined but still slightly chunky.
To serve, divide the oats between bowls and top with the coconut, raspberry coulis, and:
Toasted, unsalted pistachios