9.15.2010

Sowing wild oats



I have a story to share with you.

I'm not much of a cereal person in the same vein that, pea soups aside, I'm not much of a soup person. However, since 2010 has kept me on my toes thus far, I'll venture to say that by the year's end, I'll have morphed into both a cereal and soup person. Yes, it appears I have my own Fairy Godmother and set of culinary-minded mice, there to ensure I meet my grain and vegetable quotas.

Now let's return to this very riveting story.

For years I've eaten eggs for breakfast. When I was in my late teens, breakfast took the form of egg white omelets almost exclusively for -- I'm sorry to say -- I was absolutely obsessed with my weight. A chubby adolescent, I was dead-set on keeping slim. I can't say my practices and priorities were anywhere near healthy back then, but there you have it. When I moved to Windsor, I ate eggs all the time. I once even purchased a pack of thirty-six from the market. Some people are serious about their cake, or pies, or jam. Perhaps they are serious about their steak, or their hamburgers.

I was -- and am -- deeply serious about my eggs. I still go through about a carton a week, though I can stretch it to a week and a half if I must, and I'm especially particular about the brand. Most of the eggs that make it into grocery stores are of very poor quality; I want an egg with a real orange yolk, rich and full of flavour, with a thick, ugly shell that cracks easily. Those are hard to come by, even in a city that never sleeps. If you're so lucky to find some real farm eggs, be sure to snatch up those hot commodities.

I like them all ways -- poached, fried, scrambled, hard-boiled, soft-boiled. I am a fan of the incredible, edible egg, oh yes. But as of late, something else -- gasp! -- has been holding my heart captive.

I've shown how fickle I can be in the past, with what my goings on about Montmorency cherries one week and Burrata the next, but breakfast is no laughing matter. I have a ritual to stick to, after all. I climb out of bed, albeit reluctantly, proceed to the kitchen to make coffee, and turn on the morning news. I pour a splash of milk or cream into a mug (or, horror of horrors, find the fridge both milk-less and cream-less and am forced to drink my coffee straight like a trooper.) I wait. I pour myself a cup and hold it between my palms, and listen to the day's troubles. It helps me to feel connected to the world. It's when I focus, when I make plans for the day, when I organize my thoughts.

Then, after I've finished my first cup, I make breakfast. I do this every morning, and breakfast is almost always eggs. Yes, I've begrudgingly eaten cereal from time to time -- perhaps a bowl of quinoa or oatmeal -- and sometimes I might dare to chew on a couple slices of French toast. Sometimes all I want is a bowl of Greek yogurt, laced with honey and nuts and maybe some fruit, or, if I'm feeling particularly indulgent at the grocery store, a serving of Liberté Méditerranée lemon (whomever said money can't buy happiness never had Liberté yogurt, I'll gander to guess.) But usually, it's eggs. I have a reputation to uphold. I have a relationship to maintain.



But September has come along, and with it, a renewed interest in cooking. I've eaten a lot of salads this summer, but autumn begs for comfort food. I've frozen some homemade pesto and hummus I made last night while catching The Cider House Rules on television (one of the very few films that can do its print companion justice, perhaps because John Irving wrote both the novel and the screenplay), and as we speak, I'm cooking up a giant pot of chicken stock, some of which will be used in a Potato-Leek soup tomorrow. As a sidenote, I have to mention how much I love the look of leeks -- don't you? When I open my fridge, I stare at them in admiration for a solid two minutes. I made Brandon's Chana Masala, which I'll be eating for dinner tomorrow, and I finished off the rest of the zucchini frittata I made in my cast iron pan over the weekend. And then there's the granola.

Now I didn't grow up eating granola. I didn't even grow up eating eggs daily, the way I'm sure some kids did. I ate whole-wheat toast slathered with margarine, sometimes peanut butter, and a big helping of 1% cottage cheese. I devoured English muffins with cream cheese, and, for a short and forgettable time, toasted sandwiches made with processed cheese slices and Miracle Whip. I remember the first time I ate granola, actually, as clearly as if it happened yesterday. I was seventeen and in Europe on a class trip, and we had the choice of either granola or some other ubiquitous breakfast cereal -- Cornflakes, maybe, or Rice Crispies. I think we were in England. All I have to say is this: as soon as I tasted it, I was, um, forever changed? That sounds rather dramatic, but we are talking breakfast here. If there's ever a time to get passionate, it's before noon.

"What is this?" I asked. "What, you've never had granola? You can buy it at any grocery store," a friend of mine answered. It was perfect: chewy, slightly sweet, crisp. It tasted, quite frankly, like fall in a bowl. Better.



Of course, due to the aforementioned weight obsession, I never ate granola again after I flew back to Canada, and by the time I came around to the notion of moderation, I'd fallen extremely ill and totally intolerant. Not to mention that North American granolas just can't compare to that granola I ate back then; on the whole, commercial granolas are overpoweringly sweet and decadent. But now (!), with gluten-free oats in hand and a well-curated love of food and cooking, I'm able to finally commit. This recipe is so good, I may be tempted to forgo my daily eggs. Now that's saying something.



No, there's no ballgown dress or shoes; there's no pumpkin carriage or Prince Charming awaiting my transformation. But I have a granola recipe in hand that renders oats amber-coloured and subtly sweet, and it's second best to nothing.



Check out Molly's granola recipe.

4 comments:

Joanne said...

I tend to stick to my daily breakfast routine as well but every so often, it gets shook up by a random discovery. Granola is a good one! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

Samantha Angela said...

I've never made granola without having burned it. I absolutely suck at making granola. I know you're supposed to stir it often, but who wants to stand over a hot oven stirring granola? Honestly.

I do make a mean potato leek soup. You should try my recipe, it's awesome

Simply Life said...

wow, those oats look amazing!

bittersweetblog said...

A good granola recipe is indispensable. When I find one I like, that stuff finds its way not only into breakfasts, but also parfaits, fruit crumbles, cookies- You name it. it even makes for pretty good gifts around the holidays... ;)

This one definitely looks like a keeper!

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