This was supposed to be a recipe day (and I may yet get one in here) but for now it’s a book review. My daughter gave me a gift certificate for an independent bookstore and I spent it yesterday. I came home with a big book on economics that looks to be both interesting and terrifying. The second book is tiny and liberating. Bruce mentioned Michael Pollan’s Food Rules after hearing an NPR interview with the author and I picked it up for him. This book is very light reading. I was done in about an hour but found it to be a really useful hour. He doesn’t tell the reader much they don’t already know but lays out the rules about what and how we should be eating in such a concrete style that it seems possible to actually pull it off. Most books about food seem to be so busy filling up the pages with data and opinion that the information about the food gets lost.
Essentially, Pollan says we eat too much (no kidding) and we eat a lot of stuff our grandparents would not recognize as food. We should be eating a lot of what stands on one leg (mushrooms, grains, fruits and vegetables, less of what stands on two legs (poultry) and little of what stands on four legs (beef, pork and such). He also spoke to the truth that Americans spend less percentage wise on their food than the rest of the world.
This brings me to breakfast. We eat a lot of oatmeal. I know that a lot of people say they don’t care for oatmeal. They say it’s like eating wallpaper paste. My guess is that’s because what they eat is not actually oatmeal. Those individual packets of sugar and flavorings with a tablespoon of powdered oatmeal leaving is not oatmeal. Real oatmeal has a tooth to it and an actual taste that is fabulous. to make good oatmeal, you need to start with good oats. I like the Irish kind that comes in a can. I once found a case on the markdown rack at Stop and Shop. That was a good day. Now you need to heat up milk and water until it just simmers, then add the oats. I use 1 cup of liquid to 1/3 cup of oats. Now simmer and watch and stir until the water is absorbed and the oats are tender but still have some body left. During the final minute of simmering add about 2 tablespoons of dried fruit. I am partial to cranberries but apples and raisins work too. Put the oatmeal in a big bowl and quickly add cold water to the pan so cleaning it will not be such a chore you don’t bother making oatmeal again. Here is where is add some small sin. I like a pat of real butter, a tablespoon of brown sugar, a handful of walnuts and a splash of half & half. I don’t feel too guilty about the butter and cream. This is breakfast that sticks with you and besides, I like butter and cream. I eat this several times a week.
I think many times, the trouble with the foods we complain about is not the food but the cook. Vegetables that are steamed just until done are delicious. My mother used to boil broccoli until it was a limp, grey, sodden heap. No wonder I hated it. Broccoli is supposed to be a bit crunchy and bright green. If you think salad is a couple of hunks of iceberg lettuce and some golf ball, kind-of-like tomato pieces then you can be forgiven for not eating it. Real salad is bright with lots of colors and some bitter, some sweet interesting flavors and crunchy texture. Now I have made myself hungry and am off to make some oatmeal.