Simple [Sim-puhl]

Simple [Sim-puhl]
1. easy to understand, deal with, use, etc.
2. not elaborate or artificial; plain
3. not ornate or luxurious; unadorned

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Homemade Cold Cereal

Hot cereal is one of the comforts of home during the cold months of the year. Of coarse it's been industrialized with instant oatmeal packets and two and a half minute Cream of Wheat (not that they're not absolutely delicious or anything.) But there is something so genuinely nourishing about a pot of oats simmered and seasoned from scratch with only the extra effort of two to five minutes more of your morning. Fresh ingredients always feel better in the tummy. This combination is commonly known as "the love"; it is patience, creativity and gut instinct mixed into a creation to be consumed by those you take care of -Good care of. Well there's nothing like some good old-fashioned corn meal mush, or oatmeal, or cream of wheat, or Malt o' Meal -to warm you up nose to toes when your about to head out into the snow. But, there are times when hot cereal just doesn't shine it's best and it's mostly on hot days or times when you just want to munch and crunch on something sweet and just as nourishing. Cold cereal was something we just didn't eat when I was growing up because it was more expensive, less nutritious, and less satisfying. Still we would beg Mama to get us cold cereal so we could see what we were missing out on. Mama being the wise one, would come home from the store with huge bags of Corn Flakes or Cheerios or those straw bricks my dad seemed to like for as unknown a reason as ever there was. (He always liked weird stuff like rye bread and sauerkraut, and okra, and just about anything a child didn't even want to try. Flavors I grew into eventually; except okra, not touching that.) We would stifle our disappointment as we swallowed mouthful after mouthful of bland fiber. Finally we convinced Mama to buy Fruit Loops and at least Honey Nut Cheerios and everyone was much happier, but not healthier.
It wasn't until I left home and could decide for myself what to be frivolous on that I tried every sugary cereal I could find and decided Mama knew best. All that sugary cereal was usually a let down and left my teeth feeling all caked and grimy. Then I discovered granola and it became my guilty financial splurge. I splurged on a lot of sophisticated food during that chapter of my life, most of which was also disappointing. When I married and money mysteriously became even tighter I learn to give up on the sophisticated and less-satisfying pallet I had developed. "Eat what you love, but don't be a pig about it," became my new diet theory. I found a cookbook on amazon that peeked my interest being a "from scratch" -raised kind of cook and homemade food connoisseur. It had recipes for all homemade from scratch versions of store-bought favorites like Fig Newtons, Oreos, and cream cheese. I was afraid to spend the extra money on it in case the recipes turned out to be disappointing. An unfortunate repeated blunder in the past. However, after reading another blogger's review of the book I decided it was really my kind of cookbook and finally ordered it as a gift to myself. I had never enjoyed reading a cookbook so much and had it read cover to cover two days after it arrived. I was thrilled to learn I could make my own granola, and how easy it sounded! I rounded up the ingredients and with some trepidation followed the recipe to exactness. When my first batch of granola came out of the oven smelling all crisp and cinnamony I had such pride in my accomplishment and such high hopes that I now could munch and crunch granola guilt-free to my heart's content. I was sorely disappointed... It was bland, and far too cinnamony, and not even close to the sweet crunchy clusters I enjoyed so much from a package. How could the homemade version let me down so thoroughly! I decided to stick to my occasional splurge at Trader Joe's and forget the episode all together. What a waste! I had enjoyed reading the cookbook so much I began to follow the authoress' blog, it was funny and inspiring and the recipes were diverse and looked delicious, but I didn't dare try to make any. Then at the beginning of the year she posted a new granola recipe. It sounded wonderful, how could the orange and chocolate combination not be delicious? So I decided to give it another chance, and slowly but deliberately I bought the ingredients. I finally had them all, but not the motivation so I waited several more months until this week I decided I really wanted some nutritious cold cereal without the BHT or the over generous grams of sugar and high fructose corn syrup in it. (Commercials lie constantly BTW especially about what's good for you; in English class we called them "fallacies," but deceit is deceit by any other name.) So I bought some fresh oranges and today I trusted in myself and made the new granola. I tasted the cocoa nibs before I put them in having never tried them before; and yeah, there's another waste of four dollars -I threw them away instantly. Yucky, I'll just stick to nice sweet and silky chocolate chips thank you very much -to be added to the bowl before munch time of coarse, no need to melt them in the oven. I trusted my gut and added a couple handfuls of slivered almonds too because I do like toasted slivered almonds in the store-bought granola. Lastly, I used a Thick n' Rich maple syrup and already ground flax seed instead of whole. The rest of the directions I followed exactly and waited anxiously as it baked. Before removing it from the oven I decided to test the crunch. It was delicious! All lite and orange flavored and crunchy with just the right amount of sweetness! It even formed clusters! Finally, success! I'm so excited to have my own homemade granola I can make and enjoy a variety of ways. I enjoy adding chopped candied ginger and chocolate chips, but really it's just wonderful on it's own!

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