Things are pretty dismal in the freshcrackedpepper kitchen these days. I’m down to kimchi, eggs, and staples—each of them honorable in their own right, but difficult things to build a meal on. I’ve been content to scavenge and snack, though, using up frozen soups and reverting to the bought pasta sauce in the back of my cupboard.
Breakfast, on the other hand, is one meal that’s never complicated. It’s always simple and comforting, day in and day out. But I have noticed a change. I used to be the kind of person who chose something different from morning to morning: A bagel one day. Muesli the next. Eggs on the weekend. But since becoming a nine-to-fiver, breakfast is one of the many areas my food habits have shifted.
One word: oatmeal. Yup, oatmeal, plain and simple. Maybe it’s peer pressure—there’s a little “oatmeal club” developing at my office, where us health-savvy young female journalists line up by the hot water tap with our bowls of instant cereal. (Are women more susceptible to marketing? McDonald’s Oatmeal and Fruit, Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal, those cutesy Quaker Oatmeal ads that are everywhere?)
Whatever the case may be, it’s fun to stir our oats and chat before the work day starts. But last week a terrible thing happened: My supply of instant multigrain oats that I get smuggled to me from Canada ran out. I had it down to a science: Skim milk + microwave (none of this hot water tap business for me!) + stir + more microwaving + tiny pat of peanut butter + more stirring = the best bowl of creamy, unsweetened oats you could ever ask for.
Well, just buy more, you say. But I don’t know what brands I like down here (whine) and plus, I welcome the DIY challenge. I used to simmer my own steel cut oats all the time when I had just that: time. So, inspired by a co-worker’s frozen pucks of Trader Joe’s steel cut oats, I whipped up a batch, sprinkled in some pumpkin seeds and craisins, spread it into a baking pan, chilled it, and then cut it into bars I could freeze for future mornings.
My own convenience oatmeal. Take that TJ’s. (Plus, I just had a lot of fun playing with depth-of-focus on such bland, beige subject matter.)
So for now, breakfast is helping assuage the guilt of my almost Miranda Hobbes-esque urban existence. (Chinese take-out is still a long way off.) Beyond oatmeal club, however, new tastes abound: a five-course dinner prepared by a friend’s darling husband (“Chef Trev”), blueberry soup at the Swedish embassy after Sunday morning’s 65 mile bike ride (followed by delicious four-dollar falafal), and celebratory amuse-bouche at an event held at the home of the Spanish ambassador.
Things haven’t been too bad, now that I think of it. (Said as awesome housemate delivers me a bowl of stove-top popcorn). But the time has come to hit the grocery store once again. And as this blog will stand witness to, it shouldn’t be that bad after all.