Good morning! The weather’s been mostly awful here, very humid. I find it really difficult to cook in weather like this, mostly because, well, who wants to turn on the stove? All I want to do is lie around on the porch with a tall glass of lemonade and a fan pointed directly at me.
Later in the summer, when the weather gets like this, I just eat lots of cold things (cheese, summer sausage, yogurt) and cut up raw vegetables and fruits. But we’re not at the point where the farmer’s market is producing enough to keep me fed, so I had to wing it.
My grocery list this week is highly atypical. I did buy some kale and yogurt, which are constant standbys for me, and I plugged my way through cooking lunch for the week. But other than that, you’ll see….processed foods. Gasp! I bought cereal and much more milk than I usually do, and also a frozen pizza.
That’s my tip for the week: if the weather, or an illness, or whatever, is throwing you off, listen to your body. I just knew that if I bought the beautiful asparagus at the farmer’s market, I wouldn’t be able to deal with actually cooking it. So I bought cereal instead, and I’ve been eating that for dinner. This isn’t a good idea to do very often — specifically, eating that much cereal! — but every once in a while I think it’s fine. And the general point about not buying stuff that you really know is just going to waste away in the fridge holds, I think.
Wheat Chex, $3.59
Dried cranberries, $4.49
Amy’s spinach pizza, $5.79
Total with tax: $32.03
I’ve talked before about my normal breakfast, but I figured since I wasn’t up to much cooking this week and didn’t have a new recipe to share, I’d talk a little more about exactly what I do to make my breakfast.
I use Bob’s Red Mill Steel-Cut Oats; I don’t bother to buy the organic variety. I find that one cup of oats works out to about three servings that really do keep me full for several hours.
Depending on the week, I either make six servings on Sunday night or three on Sunday and three on Wednesday. One cup of oats and three cups of water, plus a pinch of salt; I bring that to a boil then reduce to a simmer and set the timer for twenty minutes, stirring every few minutes so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Sometimes, if I’m feeling fancy, I’ll melt some butter first and toast the oats in that for a few minutes before adding the water and salt.
I add a handful of raisins, cranberries, dried blueberries, or other dried fruit right away so that it can rehydrate along with the oats. For a while I was working on clearing out a stockpile of nuts and seeds, so I had a choice of sunflower and pumpkin seeds, walnuts and almonds, to work with. Whatever you have in your freezer that crunches, basically, is going to be good here. I just picked a couple of things out and used my toaster oven to toast a handful. (You can just throw them straight in too if you’re feeling lazy, of course; I just like the flavor of toasted nuts and seeds.)
When the twenty minute timer goes off, the oatmeal will still look pretty soupy. It’s ok. Stir in 1 heaping teaspoon of brown sugar (or, in a pinch, white sugar) per serving; you can add some maple syrup at this point too if you think it will go with your fruit and nut selections. I tried adding peanut butter once but it was awful; it made everything clumpy and stickily thick and I could barely eat it. Honey might work ok but I haven’t tried it.
Stir in the nuts/seeds and anything else you’re planning to add. Put the lid on the pot, let it cool down, then put it in the fridge. The oatmeal continues to cook as it cools, so it’ll lose the soupy quality and thicken up well.
I pack it into single-portion microwaveable containers so I can throw one in my bag on the way to the office, but you can do it at home too of course. I heat it up for 90 seconds in the microwave. You can just eat it at that point, of course, but I like to stir a big spoonful of yogurt or milk in. And that’s it, my morning breakfast secret 🙂 It’s not as frugal as it could be — all that fruit and nuts — but it’s delicious, it’s really really filling, and I feel much better than when I was eating more cereal or worse, just not eating breakfast at all.