Monday, July 11, 2011

Simplifying Breakfast

I try to read through the book "Created to be His Helpmeet" every once in a while. Two copies were given to me by different people as wedding presents,  and now I give out copies to women I think might "enjoy" it. I say "enjoy", because though it is not a difficult read, the book really stands up in your face and challenges you quite a bit. And I like that, though I don't agree with the author in all things. And every time I read the book I seem to walk away with so new challenge or discovery. One part that struck me this time through was, "Always offer your children only once choice for breakfast...Providing the same simple food every morning (except maybe Saturday) causes a child to look forward to getting cereal on that one special morning." And the author went on to describe how to do a weeks worth of simple cooking by morphing one crock pot meal into the next. "It is not a grouchy old husband or bad days that cause the problems of cooking and cleaning for young wives. It is the lack of simple planning."
 I've also been reading the Reformation Acres blog and have been enjoying the inspiration and encouragement in the areas of laundry, cooking and cleaning. And I got to thinking about how much of my energy is directed into making these little decisions like, "What's for Breakfast!!??" while crabby hungry children cling to my legs wailing each and every day. So I started to think and pray about streamlining much of our life in these little areas, and leaving me with more time to enjoy my family. One issue was hampering me though; I'm an epicurean...a foody. I really do love to cook. I love to imaging it up. I love to see it come together. I love all the senses involved. The sizzle of onion in the pan, and watching it turn translucent, and then golden brown. I love to look in the fridge and find inspiration where many would find nothing. I would have been hard pressed not to fall among the leeks and onions crowd of Israelites leaving Egypt...oh and the melons. Don't forget the melons. So I had to come up with something simple...yet interesting. And this is what I have landed on for right now. Oatmeal. Doesn't sound like foodie food to you? Well here's how I'm approaching it. Oatmeal is basically a blank slate, like rice, and I can really dress it up in any way I please. While the blackberries were in I would pick some out of the hedge row and add it to our morning breakfast. I can simply continue through the year dressing up the oatmeal with what ever is in season, moving from berries, to peaches, to pears, to apples, to bananas and almond butter, or dried fruit in the winter. You could even go crazy and add chocolate chips. There are also spices to add, and nuts, or coconut or coconut oil, butter and cream or milk, and nut butters. (I have my first batch of homemade almond butter in the fridge right now. It was very easy, and since I never let it sit at room temperature the oil never separated. You can check out the directions here.) You can also dress up oatmeal with savory additions, like cheese, thyme, chives, bacon, onion, garlic, or even scrambled eggs. It's an interesting combinations, since oatmeal is kind of a sweet grain...I've only tried it once, and I can't decide if I like it or not. Basically what I'm saying is your imagination is the limit to your options, but what you do each morning basically stays the same. Muesli is also a good cold oatmeal breakfast dish if the heat is getting to you.
But I've gone an additional step in simplifying our routine. When I cook the oatmeal I make a double batch. Then the next day I take it out of the fridge and mash it well with a fork (you know how cold oat meal turns into a giant glob) add in any extras for flavoring (like the ideas above) and beat an egg into it all. If I have a lot and the oatmeal doesn't look completely coated then I add another egg. Then I plop down spoonfuls of this mixture into a well heated pan with lots of grease and fry them until they are golden brown on both sides. We eat them with syrup. And if there were ever any left I would save them as finger food snacks for the girls...but it doesn't seem to mater how much I make...there are never any left. They taste like a cross between oatmeal and french toast. It's a great way to reinvent any left over oatmeal, or any sort of left over starchy foods, like bread, mashed potatoes, or rice- but a word of caution, I don't think I would try this with instant oatmeal. I've been working this system for about three weeks now and breakfast is the ONLY meal I've not had any trouble getting the girls to eat, and I haven't gotten tried of it yet either. It really feels like you are eating something completely different the second day, and I guess really you are. So I just wanted to share, in case you might find it helpful too. Now if The Man gets tired of this at some point I will have to come up with a couple of systems to rotate through. We'll see how it goes. I'm saving muffins, pancakes, fresh donuts, waffles, coffee cake and all the other lovely breakfast things out there for Saturdays that I have enough gumption. Now I'm trying to turn my attention to simplifying and organizing my chores and lunch and dinner. Well see how it goes. Blessings!c

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