Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
(Can you believe they give college credit for such a class?)
(Thanks for letting me steal your recipe, V)
Ah, breakfast. Widely portrayed as the most important meal of the day by concerned mothers, breakfast is indeed a big part of our lives. Anyone who’s never awoken to the wonderful smell of something warm in the oven or sizzling on the stove has truly been deprived of one of the great pleasures of life. The iconic image of Mother, hovering over the kitchen table with a large plate of pancakes ready to be inundated in syrup and messily devoured hangs around my dreams like a squatter intent on staking a claim. Let’s get real, though. We’re at college here. Mom’s not bringing a steaming plate and roommates probably aren’t going to pull through, either. So what’s a guy to do? I’ve got three papers due today, I slept in a few snooze-buttons too many and my car hasn’t really worked for longer than I can remember. Frankly, getting a healthy and filling breakfast is pretty far down the list of priorities. (Probably somewhere between shining the irregularly worn spots on my shoes and vacuuming the front room that feels more like walking on a sandbar than carpet.) Partially as a personal culinary enrichment activity, partially for a class assignment and partially for the sake of time-destitute and cooking-resistant men everywhere, I humbly submit these easy, fast and utterly screw-up proof recipes.
Sometimes lucky charms just don’t cut it. A cold bowl of pre-packaged grain (at least that’s what the box calls it) and sugar is not usually what the doctor – or anyone else, for that matter – ordered. On the flip side, the two types of oatmeal, stick-to-your-ribs and hello-hemorrhoid, don’t exactly get me excited. Here’s the remedy: a cereal that skirts the line and delivers the best of both worlds. After you justify not doing the majority of your homework but before you go to bed, take 1 cup of rolled oats and 1 cup of cream (or half and half if you’re watching your girlish figure), mix them in a bowl and stick ‘em in the fridge. When you drag yourself out of bed in the morning, grab the bowl, mix in whatever raisins, fresh fruit or nuts you can find and voila, breakfast for a king. With a calorie count to satisfy a linebacker and a prep time of less than five minutes, how could you go wrong?
If slicing an apple and sticking it in a bowl of creamy oats takes too long, consider this quick granola idea to make ahead of time: Turn the oven on to 300. Mix together 3 cups of rolled oats, 3 tablespoons of oat flour (grab it at the health-food store or just throw some oats in the blender for a while) and 1 cup of sliced almonds in a large bowl. In another container, whisk 1/3 cup canola oil, 1/2 cup honey, 1 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 teaspoon almond extract. I know this is getting tough. Stay with me. Put the contents of bowl 2 into bowl 1 and mix well. Pour the whole mess into a 9x13 pan and bake for an hour. Remember to mix it around after a half-hour if you plan to ever get it out of the pan. When it cools, put in into an airtight container and treat it like lucky charms. You know, pour milk over it and eat with a spoon.
There are mornings where I feel a bit like a hippie. All I really want to do is eat some fruit, drink soymilk and play an acoustic guitar all day. On days like that, a smoothie works perfectly. Smoothies are insanely easy to make. Do you have a blender? Congratulations, you’ve just accomplished the hardest part of the recipe! Now, here are the basics. You need an 8 oz. container of yogurt. Doesn’t really matter what kind, although I try to avoid chocolaty stuff. Now add 1/2 cup of soymilk, 3 ice cubes and a little of whatever juice is sitting in the fridge. That’s your base. Now, you can pretty much throw in whatever you want. A year-old can of peaches? Sure, toss it in. (Not the can, stupid…) Your girlfriend’s frozen strawberries? You bet. Those old browning bananas? The browner the better! (Remember, brown and black are different). Really, you can toss in whatever fruit you’ve got. That’s the beauty of a smoothie! 99% of the time it’ll taste great. The other 1% will work great as paint remover.
Finally, a slightly tougher dish for the really ambitious: muffins. The beauty of muffins is that once they’re made they’re tasty, easy and portable. Muffins are like smoothies and research papers: they start with a basic pattern and the rest is just a bunch of BSing. The oven gets set to 400. Mix 1/2 cup oat flour (see above), 1 1/2 cups of white flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3/4 cup white sugar in a big bowl. Crack an egg into a smaller bowl and beat it with a fork. Add 1 cup of milk and 1/4 cup applesauce to the egg. Finally, mix the eggish milk stuff into the bowl with the floury stuff (not too much or you’ll get hockey pucks instead of muffins). You want to keep your batter a bit lumpy. Bake for 25 minutes and they’re good to go. You may have noticed that those muffins are pretty boring. Never fear, this is where the BSing comes in. Let’s say you want blueberry muffins: toss some blueberries in before you bake them. Ditto for strawberries, bananas, nuts and whatever else you may want in them. If you want cinnamon and sugar on top, put some on top before you bake. It’s pretty much up to you at this point.
So there you go. Four painless ways to have a quick breakfast that mom would be proud of. No more starving at 10:15, no more raiding the vending machines for donuts to hold you over until lunch. These recipes won’t fail in a crunch. Go ahead, use your newfound cooking skills to impress the girls and bribe your roommates! You’ll never have to miss breakfast again!