Whatever my mom makes for me is delicious. Consistently.
Something about her hands, or how she cuts everything into perfect geometrical shapes and how she pours love into the perfect, careful spreading of mayo. I remember once, years ago, when we were making a big batch of paninis for the family. She would spread the pesto evenly so the last inch of every corner of bread had sauce. When she looked over her shoulder to see my efficient, careless spreading she gasped genuinely and full of horror.
“Is this how I raised you? To not care?”
“But no one is going to see the inside of the sandwich,” I stammered, “No one will know.”
“But I’ll know.” She said. That’s always her answer. That’s why even the depths of the pantry must be tidy. Because even if I convince her that no guest will want to snoop around my pantry, then, of course, it must be tidy because “she’ll see it” and “she’ll know.”
“Your father and your brother are going to eat these,” she added, matter-of-factly, as if that explained why you must take ridiculously long to spread pesto.
Maybe she seeps love into her cooking. Maybe it’s just that diligence tastes good. Or maybe I just idolize her.
Whatever it is, my mom’s food always tastes special and wonderful.
When I make oatmeal, it’s mostly kind of bland, kind of meh. I’m never excited about oatmeal. My oatmeal is dry and basically only ever as good as its toppings. Like how yogurt with cereal is only as good as the cereal.
My mom’s oatmeal? Yes, please.
It’s never dry. It’s like a little soup of cinnamon sweetness.
My parents just came to visit and since my mom has been making oatmeal for breakfast I decided to watch and write down her recipe.
I plated it in a classic white bowl. Stacked the cooked oats high, as I’ve been taught by food photography books, since soups and stews look better when you ‘push’ the ingredients forward and for all intents and purposes, staged the perfect shot.
“Can I start eating?” She asked shyly. She had been very shy about me taking photos of her.
“Sure,” I told her, busy clicking at my camera. But when I looked up I saw the real perfect shot. The way she served it was how it was meant to be – the way I loved her oatmeal: creamy and casual and inviting.
So voila! My mom’s oatmeal (literally: her recipe, her bowl):
The real secret is boiling the water with a cinnamon stick. You can replace mostly anything in the recipe, but don’t replace the cinnamon stick for cinnamon powder!! It makes all the difference. Second key ingredient is the green apple. Crunchy and sour. If you get the cinnamon stick and green apple you can change anything else in the recipe: adjust sweetness, milk type and toppings.
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup unsweetened pecan milk (I made mine but you can use store bought almond milk or milk of your choice)
- ⅜ teaspoon stevia (about 1½ tablespoon regular sugar)
- 1 cup green apple, cubed
- 1 stick cinnamon
- Boil 2 cups water with cinnamon stick in a medium sauce pan.
- Once boiling add oats and stevia (or sugar) and decrease heat to low. Let sit for 1 minute then add pecan milk, mix for about a minute, add apples, turn off heat and cover.
- Let sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
- Serve and sprinkle with raisins, dried pineapple or goji berries. We topped it with goji berries, chopped pecans and chia seeds.
Don't replace cinnamon stick with cinnamon powder. It makes all the difference!
You can make homemade pecan milk by soaking pecans in water overnight, straining them then blending them in a power blender with water and a pinch of salt. Strain and voila.
It is DIVINE cold. I actually prefer to eat it cold! Pack leftovers into individual mason jar portions and ENJOY later today or the next day!