Peanut Butter and Honey Oatmeal

peanut butter oatmeal

Seven years ago I did not cook. I’d dabble in baking but my biggest claims to cooking fame were that I could slice garlic very thin and make a killer grilled cheese sandwich. I added salami and used rye bread for those sandwiches but for the most part, it was takeout, cereal or canned soup. I liked good food but I didn’t know how to prepare it.

This is where we find Mr.; he learned how to cook beside his grandmother, aunt and father. At the stove, stirring this and sprinkling that, he learned about the fundamentals of home cooked meals. We had an interesting “courtship”: We had moved in together, roommates in a small house just down the road from the University.

We bonded in the kitchen where I sat on the counter, chopped onions and garlic and watched him whirl about that tiny room, barely enough space to open the refrigerator and stand at the stove at the same time.  Through that time I started to learn to cook, how flavours match and the meaning of smoke point with oil.  When our daughter was born, I resolved to prepare all of her baby food. I was more confident in the kitchen, a few basics hitched in my back pocket. I feel a surge of pride every time Bubs says, “Mommy, how ‘bout we just make it” if I tell him we are out of something. To the kids, the kitchen is an adventure and you can always make it, if you just know how (ingredients tend to help). I love his confidence in the kitchen; the exuberance each of my children has for picking out foods to add to our meal. A bag of peas they’ll sneak onto the deck to shell and eat one at a time are from Ted. The ground beef in the tourtiere is from Maureen.

I feel a connection to people through the food I feed my family. How I prepare it links me to so many others. Apple pies are my mom standing at the sink peeling and chopping apples for Thanksgiving pies, the light from the fluorescent light over the sink bouncing off a bowl of salted water.

This morning I was awake before anyone else, save for the cats. The kids usually pick their breakfast, if we are running late it’s cereal with yogurt and a glass of soymilk or peanut butter toast with apple slices. Today I had time and set about to make oatmeal. I use the quick oats that take only 3 to 5 minutes, I had extra time but realistically I only had 10 extra minutes. Imagine my delight when the kids came down and neither was interested in oatmeal, both were intent on peanut butter toast.

Thus, peanut butter and honey oatmeal.

The egg adds a beautiful creaminess, akin to a thick rice pudding. Be sure to keep the oatmeal over low heat for the egg to cook. A sprinkle of cinnamon sugar on top really completes the oatmeal, brings it to it full sense of oatmelness.

The Peanut Butter Honey Oatmeal

Note: I cook my quick oats just like rice. I start breakfast too early in the morning to worry about stirring anything into boiling water.

1 cup quick oats

2 cups water

one egg

2 tbsp smooth peanut butter

2-3 tsp honey

optional: honey roasted peanuts, soymilk, and cinnamon sugar

1. In a small/medium pot, pour in the quick oats and shake the pot to settle. Add water. Cover and heat on medium high. Once bubbles form, lower to a simmer for 3 minutes.

2.  Keeping the heat on low, stir in the egg. Incorporate well. Add the peanut butter and mix until thoroughly mixed with the oatmeal. Add honey.

Serve with a drizzle of honey, cinnamon sugar and soymilk. Or, a few honey-roasted peanuts. Enjoy.

{Vegan} Lemon Poppyseed Scones {Recipe}

Lemon Poppy Seed Scones (vegan)
A few months ago I took part in quite the online bake sale in support of Japan. Out of respect for the auction I did not post the recipe. Since then, I have made these scones and fell in love with them a little more each time. The lemon is light, best complemented by a cup of vanilla tea. The crumb, even though is a vegan recipe is tender and clings to ribbons of chilled butter (most likely vegan margarine). These scones, these feisty and rich triangles will make your friends like you more, I promise.

Without delay:

The Lemon Poppyseed Scones

I ended up with 8 decently sized scones, you have wiggle room to taste test and cut more. I only now realized this recipe is vegan, I forgot to add the egg and quite honestly, I’m glad I didn’t. The crumb is flaky yet still tender. You can add an egg if you like but it fares better without.

2/3 cup light spelt flour (90 g)

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (170 g)

1/3 cup sugar

2 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tbsp poppy seeds

6 tbsp Earth Balance vegan margarine – chill in the freezer for 20 minutes

3/4 cup coconut milk

zest and juice of one lemon

Preheat oven to 400º F.

1. Whisk together the dry ingredients, including the poppy seeds.

2. Using two knives cut in the margarine until it is the size of small pebbles.

3. In a large measuring cup or bowl whisk the coconut milk and zest and juice of the lemon.

4. Gently fold the liquid into the flour mix, taking care not to over mix it. The true gems of any scone are the little pockets of butter (or margarine) separated by light dustings of flour.

5. On a floured surface shape into a circle and cut into 8 pieces or more if you would like them smaller.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are just slightly golden and they are risen.

Enjoy. Best served with a hot cup of tea or coffee on a morning when you are chasing a touch of sun.

On Claiming an Allergy You Don’t Have

This morning, I had two very interesting conversations and one precipitated the other. A lovely young woman I have had the pleasure of meeting in person retweeted something that made my heart stop. In effect, the original tweeter made it clear that if you are vegan and at a restaurant, feel free to say you’re allergic to various foods. If you or someone you love is an allergy sufferer I’m sure your heart just stopped too. You know what that entails, the culture of disbelief, the apathy and potential danger. If you do not, you may wonder why I was upset or think I’m over-reacting because you’ve done the same. Don’t like scallops? Tell them you’re allergic! Then order the shrimp (yes, happened to me in my serving days). There are several problems with this scenario.

If you are misusing the term “allergic” you are setting the stage for the public to continue thinking allergy sufferers are making it up, because honestly, some of them obviously are. There is a culture of disbelief around allergies, a lax dismissal that allergy sufferers are being petulant brats. I can assure you this isn’t (wholly) true but people with food allergies and intolerances really cannot eat that food, no matter if you think they can.

To say you’re allergic to a given food (and this is for people without allergies) encourages a culture that, in some cases already, views allergies with suspicion and disbelief; there are many people who do not believe an allergy to be true.  The community has spent years breaking down the misconceptions about allergies and whether or not food preparers and servers (be it in a restaurant or home) should acknowledge and take them seriously – the answer is yes, always. If servers are constantly told (and they are) about allergies to “this but not that” and it is clear the patron is really just trying to make substitutions where it is usually not allowed, those servers will quickly become apathetic about allergies. Even if you do not think it true, this really does jeopardize the health of allergy sufferers.

Before we get too far into it, I do think we should clear up a few important facts about food allergies:

A food allergy is an immunological response to an allergen such as gluten, dairy, eggs or shellfish and is characterized by your sinus cavity flooding (sexy), hives, watery eyes and extreme situations, anaphylaxis. An allergy is specific and it’s bad. If you have a wheat allergy (or not), you should check out Jeanne at Art of Gluten Free Baking for some insight and gorgeous recipes – the title of her blog is not without merit, she does create gluten free art.

A food intolerance is typified by gastrointestinal freakout, skin issues, migraines, respiratory upset like a mucus build up or wheezing. It is not a true allergy in the sense that it does not include the immunological response but this does not mean it should be taken any less seriously, the symptoms are wide ranging and cause horrible discomfort. My daughter, the very sweet Miss N suffers from a severe intolerance to cow’s milk products. If she were given even a small amount she will soon have a number of digestive problems that will last well into the next day, mucus build up, a compromised immune system and terrible leg pain. It is frightening to see your child suffer through these symptoms, believe me.

The second conversation I had was with my daughter. I gently asked her how she feels about her dairy intolerance. This year, with her introduction to school she has suddenly been plunged into a world dominated by cow’s milk. It’s in the other children’s lunches, at every event and it’s in the cafeteria. We have been very fortunate in that her teacher is very accommodating and knowledgeable (she always asks) and she has always made sure Miss N had an alternative, whether from home or through her.

Miss N: “Well, sometimes when I see C with cow cheese strings, I wish I could have some. But, then I think about it and know I can’t, and that’s okay. I don’t want to get sick”.

My girl makes a very good point and she also used a very important word: “can’t”. You see, she cannot have cow’s milk. There was never a choice in the matter for her, it is not about a belief system; it is about  health. If you are making the choice not to eat certain foods you will not be plunged into physiological and immunological hell. Your heart will be hurt and your mind bruised but you can get through your day comfortably, Miss N and people like her cannot. “Will not” does not equal “can not”.

There are many obstacles to eating healthfully when a whole sub-sect of food is cut off from you. It also happens that you need everyone, from your family and friends to food preparers and servers to believe you when you say you are allergic to that food. Sometimes your life depends on it. Misusing the term “allergy” perpetuates the myth that allergy sufferers are making it up because they just don’t like or have chosen not to eat a food – this is wrong. Miss N would give anything to eat milk chocolate, my husband to eat a big slice of pizza.

If you are concerned about contamination from foods you do not eat for religious, societal or personal beliefs, educate the people in your life. Please don’t take the one word we need to keep ourselves and loved ones safe, it doesn’t do anyone any favours. I do understand where you are coming from and that you wholeheartedly deserve to have someone respect your beliefs, as a former server, know that I always appreciated honesty than a lie (I’m not the only one). This is a matter of education, spread the word about your beliefs! We will all be better for it.

Anecdotal fun stuff: A little girl came into my sushi restaurant with her friend’s parents. At 7, she was too shy to tell me she ate kosher so it was up to her friend’s mom. Fortunately I knew what to do to keep that girl happily fed without any disruption to her afternoon or beliefs. Why? Because other patrons following a kosher diet had helped educate me instead of shutting down those vital lines of communication.

Frosting for the Cause

Today, I have a recipe up over at Frosting for the Cause. I don’t know what I expected in writing up the recipe for Cinnamon Scotch Cookies but what did happen is that my husband and I were thrust into an evening of reminiscing and nibbling at all the ugly edge cookies. Cancer is a vicious disease but Paula, the site creator has created a lovely space of memories and inspiring stories of survivors. Please visit her today and consider taking part in her initiative, it is well worth it.