I love eating steel cut oats for breakfast, especially on cold rainy mornings when I feel as though I need something warm and solid to carry me through the day. I would confidently and decisively place steel cut oats in the “rib sticking” category of morning meals, especially when combined with toppings rich in complementary flavours and nutrients. The only real drawback (and I say this only because I don’t give myself enough time to make these oats the morning of) is that they need a good half an hour to forty five minutes to cook and there isn’t much you can do to rush this step. I had relegated steel cut oatmeal to a weekend-only type of meal and resigned myself to smoothies for weekdays until I read about making steel cut oats the night before. I’m so happy I discovered this cooking method, because now I can have steel cut oats whenever I feel like it. It’s difficult to cook a very small batch so rather than attempt this I embraced it. This recipe makes enough for about 5 portions, depending on how much you like to eat first thing in the morning (I prefer smaller servings early in the day). Either keep the cooked oats in your fridge in it’s original cooking pot to dish out portions as needed, or experience the thrill of neatly packed individual jars lined up perfectly in your fridge. Of course, choosing potential toppings is the fun part and the variations are endless. My favourites include trail mix and maple syrup (as pictured above), raspberries and grated coconut, blueberries and brown sugar, or sliced banana with honey. I know that generally oats recipes call for water only, but I grew up on a half water/half milk combination and so that’s how I prefer them as an adult and I always pour over some warmed milk, cream, or coconut milk to stir in before eating.
easiest ever overnight steel cut oats:
1 cup of steel cut oats
2 cups of milk
2 cups of water
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Extra milk or cream
Oatmeal toppings of your choice
- Bring the oats, milk, water, and salt to a low boil in a lidded pot. Turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes before removing from heat. Store in the fridge overnight.
- In the morning, heat up a serving of oats in a saucepan with with some extra milk to get a wonderfully creamy texture. Finish with the toppings of your choice and a final drizzle of milk or cream.
This pretty song is such a nice way to usher in the light on still navy mornings.
Royksopp – So Easy
This particular version of avocado toast is such a bright and happy way to start your day. Outside was a solitary sheet of grey today, it was raining so hard that large pools were flooding at intersections all of the leaves that were left in the trees are now firmly littered all over the street. I try to keep my writing space and general home environment sunny and I’m a huge fan of big pops of vivid colour to bring a certain radiant ambience to an otherwise neutral room. Meals like these are an extension of that design principle, they serve to bring light into a dark day. The chillies are what really make these flavours all come together, its addition was inspired by one of my favourite fancy cheese condiments (the Pomegranate Hot Pepper Jelly from Artisan Edibles). Don’t skimp out on the salt either, you need it to complete the holy trifecta of sweet, salty, and spicy!
avocado toast with pomegranate and chillies:
Really simple: mash one avocado and spread it over two pieces of toast (I like whole wheat because it’s nutty and sweet on its own). Scatter a generous amount of pomegranate seeds over the avocado and finish with dried red chillies and kosher or sea salt (Maldon salt is particularly nice to have for this one). Press down lightly so that the pomegranates don’t roll off as you’re trying to eat it. Enjoy right away while the toast is still warm.
I was so sad to hear about Carey Lander’s passing. I’ve always loved Camera Obscura, ever since I first heard their debut album Underachievers Please Try Harder. Her voice was so clear and luminous, like a shining projection of happiness over an underlying sadness. This remains one of my favourite songs ever; it’s so simple and hopeful, a moving tribute to the future that lies ahead.
Camera Obscura – Eighties Fan
Remember how I was vaguely writing about times of change ahead of me, and the times of turmoil I was currently experiencing? Well, I can happily (and nervously) tell you that I’ve quit my full-time job as manager of Vancouver’s best cheese shop and am now dedicating my time to freelance writing. There are definitely aspects of the job I’ll miss a lot, it was hard saying goodbye to my favourite customers and especially hard to say goodbye to my wonderful team of workmates. Luckily, most of my former coworkers are friends of mine so I’ll still get to see them regularly. In fact we all went out for dinner last Saturday night to celebrate “Ashley’s Foray into Freelancing as Celebrated Through the Enjoyment of Korean BBQ” (my friend Lela thinks of the best names for events).
I’m three days into the freelancing life at this point and I’m finding the amount of solo, unstructured time daunting. I’ve been reading lots about the importance of routine and it totally makes sense, routine is what keeps me thriving and my moods have always oscillated back and forth when I have little to no structure in place. Previously, getting up for work was the perfect time reminder to make myself breakfast, especially since I often walked to work (about 45 minutes of walking). Now, even more than before, I find I need something extra fast to make so that I can dive right into the work that needs to get done that morning (writing, cleaning, going for a walk, job searching, etc.). I had abandoned smoothies a couple of months ago in favour of whole pieces of fruit and some sort of protein that I could take with me on my commute. When I make a smoothie my goal is to make it taste bright and delicious, but also be crammed full of as many nutritious ingredients as possible. Avocado is an ideal foil, it’s buttery texture adds creaminess without compromising the flavour of the smoothie. Baby kale is an excellent alternative to spinach, but you could use any green that you prefer. I sometimes add protein powder to make the smoothie more filling, but it’s not necessary and to be honest I find most protein powders have an unpleasant bitter aftertaste.
mixed berry smoothie with avocado and baby kale:
1 cup of frozen mixed berries
1 ripe banana
2 cups of baby kale
1 cup of coconut water
2 heaping Tbsp. Greek yogurt
1 scoop protein powder (optional)
Add all ingredients to a blender and blitz until completely emulsified.
What can I say? It’s been wet and gloomy in the mornings and Spiritualized seems as good a band as any to get my day off to a productive start.
Spiritualized – Stay With Me
I woke up this morning to the smell of fresh spring air; wet and heavy with the omnipresent perfume of the cherry trees and damp earth. I wanted something for breakfast that would reflect the abundance of colour outside of my apartment right now, the ground is just bursting with Technicolour blooms right now. All of the plants look neon in contrast with the charcoal soil and I’m left wondering how I could ever forgot the sheer enthusiastic intoxication that is springtime in Vancouver. So I opened my balcony doors wide open and made these fuchsia hued smoothies out of frozen blueberries and leftover pineapple from the night before. I find that if I add chia seeds to my smoothies, or anything really, they make me feel fuller, longer compared to a smoothie made without. They also thicken the texture, giving the smoothie more bulk and heft, which is particularly useful if you’re taking it to work and need it to get you through until lunchtime. I had my regular morning cup of tea with my smoothie, as well as a toasted pistolette roll with salted butter. This was such a nice way to start my day, which included such impressive feats as a short nap and a long walk along Kits beach with my mom and her tiny dog (and a lovely surprise bouquet of sunflowers from my husband).
pineapple and blueberry smoothie:
(makes 2 generous smoothies)
1 1/2 cups of diced pineapple, frozen or freshly cut
1 1/2 cups wild blueberries, frozen
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup of coconut water
2 tsp. chia seeds
Place everything in a blender and blitz until completely emulsified. Pour into 2 large glasses and enjoy.
I’ve been listening to Wild Beasts almost nonstop for the last couple of days. When I’m struggling with depression, which is how I would describe myself right now, I often will play only one album or one musician over and over again until it begins to feel like armour. Everything is so overwhelming right now, I can’t think past the moment I’m in or I feel full of panic. Wild Beasts is good music and good armour. They’re parts slithery Jeff Buckley, Future Islands, Of Montreal; sexy, moody, sombre, and dark.
Wild Beasts – Deeper