Local Woman Survives Dangerous Self-Pity Spiral

This is my first blog post in 4 months. A few people, especially Favorite Niece, have been asking for a post. Favorite Niece even offered up some fodder from her own life. For instance, she fainted this summer while eating a sandwich. She was completely sober, hydrated and well rested. The doctors never figured out why. The sandwich had bacon on it. There’s a post in there for sure, and I should have just handed the blog over to her for a while.

Depressed cat.

I didn’t write because I lost my sense of humor this summer around the two things I blog about most: food and love. Food poisoning and getting dumped, within the span of one month, will do that to a person.

I lost half of June to the food poisoning. It landed me in the ER, and caused me to miss a week of work. It left me weak, and actually quite anemic. It took me a month to feel strong and normal again, which was just in time for getting dumped mid-July. Luckily, my iron levels were approaching “normal” range by then, which the FDA recommends for single women my age who are at risk of experiencing a surprise break up.

In truth, I was neither surprised by or opposed to the end of the relationship. But I was disappointed that it came in the form of a monologue, instead of a discussion. There was no Q&A session offered. The “unilateral” approach he took (his word, not mine) left me stunned, and deeply hurt.

In short, my funny bone broke. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find one interesting or humorous thing to say about being a recently dumped, slightly lonely, never-married, plumpy 40 year old who doesn’t even have a college degree.

And that’s a level of self pity I prefer to spare you from. In fact, it is reserved strictly for my closest girlfriends, who allow it, though only briefly. We have an understanding about this, and have a routine in place for such occasions: Go ahead. Rant.Cry.Get it out. But don’t forget your punchline. It’s a nod to this scene, in When Harry Met Sally:

Mine is the college degree bit. Another girlfriend prefers to end her speeches with “And I’m a renter!” Ridiculous? Yes. But it’s a clever trick that breaks the spell. Without fail, the mandatory punchline sends us into giggle fits. It reminds us to laugh at ourselves. And laughter, of course, brings relief.

Despite the shaky start, I made a point to enjoy the rest of the summer. I took every Friday off in August to hit the beach, and the resulting tan was the best one I’ve had in years. And because it is unconscionable to let a summer in Newport go by without a Del’s on the beach, or a Tallulah’s taco at the The Shack, or a sunset drink on roof of the Vanderbilt, or a drunken kiss on the street with a stunning Brazilian man, I made sure to do all of these things, most more than once. (Okay, maybe that last one isn’t requisite, but come on?)

I’ve always loved the months of September and October the most here in RI. But I probably welcomed the new season with more enthusiasm than usual this year. I wasn’t sad to see that summer go. One day in September, life just felt easier again. It’s been mostly drama free since, and I know not than to take this for granted. We had an amazing Indian Summer, and I made sure to enjoy every warm, peaceful, sunny day I was given.

And now we’ve had our first snow, and next month brings us into winter, and I say bring it on! Sure, winters here can be rough. And, yes, I’m still a never-married, plumpy 40 year old without a college degree. But I’m no longer sad, or lonely. And my doctor says my iron levels are pretty good. I even feel a little inspired to write again. But if I can’t think of anything soon we should totally take Favorite Niece out for a BLT, cross our fingers, and hope she faints.*

More Food. Less Pain.
xo-L

*My treat if she does!

.

Scraping the Bottom

Do you see the dust & grossness?
Last night, at 10:30pm, I ate candy that I found on the bottom of my purse. Haribo Raspberry candies. They were not individually wrapped. They were covered in purse dust. And they were DELICIOUS.

My excuse? I was dumped 10 days ago.

My friends don’t want me to say “dumped”. They keep pointing out that I wasn’t in love with him. They remind me that I’d been talking since May about possibly ending it, and that he only got to it sooner than I did. But I’m going with the “dumped” story for now. Because it allows me to say things like this:

 “Fuck it, I’m gonna eat this unwrapped, dusty candy at the bottom of my purse.”

Truth be told, what I actually wanted to say last night was this:

“Fuck it, I’m going to the bar ALONE to drink a Scotch. Then I’m going to smoke a cigarette. Then I’m going to text men that are bad for me.”

But I didn’t say or do any of the latter. Instead I dined out with a couple of girlfriends, and went home where I drank a very small, very diluted Old Fashioned. Then I ate the purse-candy, drank a glass of water, counted my blessings, and went to bed.

So if you think about it, eating candy from the bottom of my purse is actually PROGRESS.

Redemption, indeed!

I mean, check out these low points, and I think you’ll agree:

Day 1: Cleaned my apartment. Ever sob while Swiffering? I did.
Days 2, 3 & 4: Very few calories consumed. Very little sleep. Walked 15 miles in 3 days.
Day 5: Croissant. Giant prosciutto sandwich. Chocolate cake. Cheese and bread for dinner. A whole bottle of Rose.
Day 6: Completed a marathon of Prosecco drinking in just under 6 hours.
Day 7: Omelette. Pizza. Beer. Gyro. Loukoumades. Sleep.

On that 7th night, I slept for 10 hours.

After that, things got better.

Yes, there has been pathos, and gyros, and pain. And purse-candy. But there has also been the relief and the excitement that comes with a fresh start. I’ve had more time for walks and meals with my girlfriends, who are thoughtful, and fair, and loving with their support. I’ve had more time alone too, which, as an introvert, isn’t an unwelcome thing.

And now it’s summer, and I’m single and if you’ve read my blog before you know how awful I am at dating. Which is good news for you, since I’m sure I’ll write about it, and you’ll get to laugh at the horrors. Sigh. At least the eating is always good.

More Food, Less Pain,
xo-L

Birthday Cake!

I made my own cake for my 40th Birthday this month. For some reason, this exasperated a lot of folks. Clearly those people have never eaten a cake I’ve baked. Because if the did, they’d know it will be better than any cake ever made before. Like. Ever.

Maybe they felt sad for me. Maybe they were worried I’d be sitting at home alone, singing “Happy Birthday to Me.” As if. The fact is, I have plenty of friends who would make me a cake, if I asked them to. (Though the truth is I only have one friend that I trust with the task, and she was already organizing a cooking class/party for me.) I also have friends who would gladly buy me one, without hesitation.  But I am of the opinion that a homemade cake, made with a little skill, and a lot of love, ALWAYS tastes better than one from even the best bakery.

A homemade birthday cake should not be too composed. It should be slightly crooked, and there should be a few stubborn crumbs in the final layer of frosting. Despite these flaws, it should be oohed and aahed over, while the baker coyly rejects the compliments. Any leftover pieces should be wrapped and sent home with the guests, but one piece should remain, and should be eaten for breakfast the next morning. If you bring the cake elsewhere, the plate it was served on should be left behind at that person’s house for months.

I made Lora Brody’s “Best Birthday Cake”, from her beautiful cookbook Chocolate American Style. I picked it because it’s a fail-proof, delicious recipe, and also because my favorite cake/frosting combo is chocolate/vanilla. This frosting recipe has cream cheese and white chocolate and butter. Do I even need to explain what that means?

It means it’s rich and delicious, dummy. 

Here’s a link to the recipe, if you’re so inclined. It looks like a lot of ingredients and instruction, but don’t be afraid. It’s actually a good cake for a novice baker, as there is no creaming stage for the butter and sugar, and no tricky folding in of the dry and wet ingredients. If you do your mise en place ahead of time, it’s as simple as putting together a boxed cake mix. Even the frosting is tough to screw up.

And by the way, it’s still technically my Birthday Month, so if you want to buy me a gift it is not too late! Here’s a link to my Amazon Wish List*:

Louise’s Amazing Birthday Wish List **

More Food, Less Pain,
xo-L

*Not a real wish list. Though if you buy me the 60lb wheel of provolone, I’ll share. Promise. 
**Special thanks to The Ninja for the creative assistance. Only a mind as warped as yours gets why this was fun. And thanks for the b-day tart. 

Row

Bladderwrack & Stone, Cliff Walk, Dec 2012

One day, back in December, Favorite Niece told me how excited she was for a visit from a guy. She was counting down the days, and, like anyone falling in love, could not contain her enthusiasm. She was grinning a lot back then*, and was obviously happy.

Her happiness did not resonate with me that day. I was feeling blue, and I remember counseling her to temper her anticipation, and to be careful with her expectations. I’m sure I thought I was being helpful, and probably believed that the 10 extra years of “wisdom” I have on her meant my advice was sound. I offered no positive encouragement, just a grim warning. And, like most unsolicited advice and criticism, it came from a place of unhappiness.

I regretted it instantly, and have ruminated over my reaction since. I started questioning why it was so difficult for me to just be happy for her. Had I completely lost faith in the idea of romantic love? Would I ever feel that it’s worth the risk again? Do I really even need that particular kind of relationship, when my life feels rich enough already with the love of my family and friends?

I still don’t have the answers, but I do have moments of clarity here and there. A poem I came across recently, “West Wind # 2”, by Mary Oliver, helped some, the way a good poem should.

This poem reminded me that, despite my bruised and hesitant heart, I still believe the risk is worth taking. I desperately don’t want anyone, especially my niece, to be as hurt and as disappointed as I was when my relationship ended. And yet, I honestly have no regrets. Of course I wish I could take away the pain it caused, but then I’d have to take away all the years of joy and love and growth. Why on earth would I want to do that?

And the fact is, her heart might break. Mine might again too. But most hearts do, at some point, and usually more than once in a lifetime. Despite this, I still agree with what Ms. Oliver wrote – that life without love is “not worth a bent penny or a scuffed shoe.” It’s worth the risk, and I’m glad she’s rowing towards it.

West Wind # 2
You are young. So you know everything. You leap
into the boat and begin rowing. But listen to me.
Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without
any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me.
Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and
your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to 
me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent 
penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a 
dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile 
away and still out of sight, the churn of the water 
as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the 
sharp rocks – when you hear that unmistakable 
pounding – when you feel the mist on your mouth 
and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls 
plunging and steaming – then row, row for your life 
toward it.

-Mary Oliver

More Food Love, Less Pain,
xo-L

*And still is, I’m happy to report.

How Foodies Get Sick

Like I said: sexy.

On New Year’s Eve, near the stroke of midnight, a girlfriend treated us to little toasts topped with creme fraiche and caviar. They were delicious. We are not regular caviar and champagne eaters – but some New Year’s cliches are good ones, and it did not go unappreciated by any of us.

Upon tasting it I knew it was very good, very special caviar. It was clean tasting, not at all fishy, a little sweet, a little salty. Beautiful, shiny, black – yup, it was sexy. I couldn’t tell exactly what kind it was just from tasting it, so I made my way to the kitchen to take a look at the empty jar. It was D’artagnan’s Ossetra caviar, farmed in France. I felt a surge of love for my friend who treated us to this. She is always generous, and I know it gives her joy to share good food with us.

When I looked in the tiny jar, I noticed there were a few little eggs left in it.

You know what happened next, don’t you?

I licked that jar. I licked it clean. I licked it for America. Stuck my tongue into it and got those last little eggs into my belly, where they belonged.

Then, because I have no shame*, I went out and told everyone. They giggled a little, not at all surprised of course. But my friend who brought the caviar laughed harder than the rest, and admitted to also taking her tongue to the jar. (I LOVE HER.)

She then informed me of a third “licker”: her man-friend, who had just recovered from a week in bed with THE FLU.

I had enough Champagne in me by then to not give it much thought. Midnight arrived just a moment or two later. My cute date motioned me over to his cute lap, where I sat and kissed him. And since the bubbles and caviar were from France, I suppose we decided to stay with the theme, and kissed in that style too.

By Thursday my throat was scratchy. By Friday, a full blow fever took over. My caviar-sharing/fellow licker of a girlfriend contracted the plague also, and our illnesses matched almost exactly, symptom to symptom, hour by hour. We updated each other periodically during the 48 hours our fevers burned. As for cute-lap guy? Turns out he’s more than just a, um, cute lap. He’s also got brains, and got a flu shot. So he’s fine. Whatever dude.

In a way, I’m proud I contracted the flu this way. It seems like a good omen for 2013. Or a bad one. Is there a lesson here? Get a flu shot next year? Don’t lick things unless you can know for certain they haven’t been licked before? I don’t know. Those lessons just seem too obvious, and so boring. So I’ll probably just overlook them and continue to search for a deeper meaning in it all.

In closing, I ask you this, my dear Bleaders:

Have you EVER known anyone to get the flu from licking a caviar jar? Nope. Didn’t think so. Things like this, and this, and this just happen to me. Which is why I get to be the ruler of this funny food blog with 54,000** readers, and you don’t.

More Food, Less Pain,
xo-L

*Not true. I have some. Just not enough to measure.
**Give or take 53,080 or so.

Love and Joy

A favorite ornament, handmade in Germany.

It’s a beautiful, chilly, quiet morning on Historic Hill. Out the window to my right is blue sky, with the tall white steeple of Trinity Church in the distance. In the foreground, colorful little clapboard colonial houses of varying heights. And then there’s Touro Synagogue, right below my third story window. I’m about to meditate, and this will be my view.

My hope is that 10 minutes of sitting will calm my rattled nerves. I’d hoped a good night of sleep would settle them, but that didn’t happen. I tossed and turned last night – thought about nothing and everything. Anxiety about nothing. Anxiety about everything. I’m sure you understand. I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles a bit with the demands of this holiday.

Despite feeling this way, I’m looking forward to today. I like the bustle of Christmas eve. After a few quick errands this morning, I’ll be helping out at Newport Wine Cellar and Le Petit Gourmet. Friends and customers that I adore will come by, and it will be a joy to see them.  It will be busy, of course, but fun. And after that I’ll see my family for dinner. I haven’t seen my little nephews in far too long, and can’t wait to get silly with them.

Rattled nerves won’t keep me from enjoying Christmas, or from meditating on what it has come to mean to me. My ideas about it evolve a little more each year. I’ve unplugged from the things I don’t like about it, and have learned to focus on the things about it that I love.

I’m also ever aware of how painful this time can be for people who are grieving. All those expectations of “love and joy” sting like a slap to the face when a source of love and joy is taken from you. Of course I’m thinking of those families in Connecticut. Who isn’t?

I know this all sounds a bit melancholy. But the holidays are complicated for so many of us. I’m trying to acknowledge that. Trying not to turn away from that fact. Trying to embrace it, and bear witness to it.

The sun is a little higher in the sky now, and the bustle is starting. More cars are driving up and down Touro Street, and I see people walking into town to shop. I should probably be doing the same, but wanted to wish you all a happy holiday first. I wish you love and joy. And I hope that with each hug from a old friend or family member, any stress or sadness you may be carrying around fades into the background for a little while.

More Food, Less Pain,
xo -L

Gratitude, and Biscuits

On my walk today, I listened to a dharma talk by Tara Brach, as I usually do each Sunday. The talks are given (and recorded) every Wednesday, at a Universalist church in Maryland, and are offered, free of charge, on her website.

This week’s talk, given on Thanksgiving eve, was titled “Gratitude & Generosity”. In it, she spoke of how being grateful is essential to happiness – something I learned when I was at my unhappiest, during a very difficult transitional period in my life a couple of years ago. It was desperate time of anxiety and situational depression for me, so I took up two daily practices: meditation and gratitude. I did these with a blind faith that they would help. I went through the motions, not sure it would make a dent. Fake it ’till you make it, and all that. 

Both practices saved me. 

I’ve let them go a little, since times aren’t so tough anymore. The meditation happens a few times a week, but the gratitude still happens daily. Before I fall asleep each night, I thank my stars for a few things. Sometimes it’s the things we take for granted, like clean drinking water, and sidewalks, and streetlamps.  Other times it’s the bigger things, like the love of my friends, my good health, and my full life.

Tonight I’ll give thanks for the following story, which Brach shared in her Thanksgiving Eve talk. She used it to illustrate the importance of being open to what is here and now, and as an invitation to quiet down the “shoulds” in our minds. For me, a gratitude practice helps with both of these things. It’s tough to wish you were somewhere else in your life, or someone else, when you shift the focus to what is already perfect and amazing right now. 

And damn if cooking analogies don’t get me every time! This one had me smiling ear to ear, and tearing up as I walked on the Cliff Walk today. It is from The Complete Tassajara Cookbook, by Edward Espe Brown, an American who is a Soto Zen Buddhist priest, and who also happens to be an amazing chef.

 
***
 
Making the Perfect Biscuit
 
     When I first started cooking at Tassajara, I had a problem: I couldn’t get my biscuits to come out right. I’d follow the recipe and try variations: milk or water, eggs or no eggs, but nothing worked. I had in mind the “perfect” buiscuit, and these just didn’t measure up. After several failures, I finally got to thinking “Right, compared to what?”
 
Growing up I had “made” two kinds of biscuits: one was from Bisquik, and the other was from Pillsbury. For the Bisquik biscuits, you added milk to the mix and then blobbed the dough in spoonfuls onto the pan – you didn’t even need to roll them out. The biscuits from Pillsbury came in a kind of cardboard can. You rapped the can on a corner of the counter, and it popped open. Then you twisted the can open more, put the premade biscuits on a pan, and baked them. I really liked those Pillsbury biscuits. Isn’t that what biscuits should taste like? Mine just weren’t coming out the way they were supposed to.
 
It’s wonderful and amazing the ideas we get about what biscuits should taste like, or what life should look like. Compared to what? Canned biscuits from Pillsbury? Leave it to Beaver? And then we often forget where the idea came from or that we even have the idea. Those (perfectly good) biscuits just aren’t “right.”
 
People who ate my biscuits could be extolling their virtues, eating one after the another, but for me they were not “right.” Finally one day that shifting-into-place occurred, an awakening: not “right”: compared to what? Oh, no! I’ve been trying to make Pillsbury biscuits! Then that exquisite moment of actually tasting my biscuits without comparing them to some (previously hidden) standard: wheaty, flaky, buttery, sunny, earthy, here. Inconceivably delicious, incomparably alive, present, vibrant. In fact, much more satisfying than any memory, much more delicious than any concept. 
 
Those moments – when you realize your life as it is is just fine, thank you – can be so stunning and liberating. Only the insidious comparison to a beautifully prepared, beautifully packaged product makes it seem insufficient. The effort to produce a life with no dirty bowls, no messy feelings, no depression, no anger is bound to fail – and be endlessly frustrating.
***
There are a few more paragraphs that follow, but you get the idea here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
And I hope your Thanksgiving left you feeling grateful. And that every other day of the year does as well.
More Food, Less Pain,
xo-L
 

Pumpkin Pie for Amelia Bedelia

My friend Amelia Bedelia contacted me recently about a pumpkin pie recipe. She is currently living in Japan, so we communicate via an app called “Blip.me Walkie Talkie”, which is really just a cute voice messaging tool.

We giggle our heads off every time we “blip” each other, partly because we are horrified by what we say (you cannot edit before sending), and partly because we forget you only have 30 seconds to talk, and get cut off almost every time.

She wanted to know if it was a cop out to use canned pumpkin, and was hoping for a recipe. Some highlights of our chat:

AB: Louise! I need help! I really want to make a pumpkin pie from scratch, because I love pumpkin pie. I might cheat and use canned pumpkin. I know you’re looking for blog topics, and I bet you make a killer pie.

ME: Hey! I have good news for you. Pumpin pie should only be made with canned pumpkin. It’s too much work to make pumpkin puree on your own, and that is pretty much the consensus in the pastry world.

ME (Again): (Sounding grumpy and sleepy) The reason it could be a good blog topic is because everyone I know likes pumpkin fucking lattes, and pumpkin fucking beer, and pumpkin this and pumpkin that, and I keep saying to them the only time I want pumpkin is if it’s from an actual pumpkin…or in a pumpkin pie. I don’t want fucking pumpkin pie flavored scones. It’s just makes me so mad I don’t know why… (I get cut off – time runs out)

AB: (Laughing) I think you just wrote the intro to your blog post.

And then she finished her thoughts in two more messages, because 30 seconds was not enough space for her cheerful, supportive words. I can’t tell you how much I miss having these talks with her in person. 

She and her husband left for Japan back in August. After she left, I meant to write a post about my friendship with her, and the joy she has brought to my life. But honestly, I was taken a back by how sad I was about her departure. I couldn’t write anything without sounding terribly sentimental and wistful about it. 

The least I can do now is offer up my thanks for her friendship, and give her (and you) my favorite pumpkin pie recipe and advice. (The recipe is linked below, rather than typed out here.) A little late for the holiday – in fact, it’s already Thursday in Japan! But I suppose you could always print it out & save it for next year. 


*****

Dear Amelia Bedelia:

I think that comfort foods like this shouldn’t be tampered with too much. I mean, if you only have pumpkin pie once a year, you probably want something that does not stray far from tradition. I believe only slight variations should be made, and that you should aim only to make a better version of what you remember eating as a child. Unless what you had as a child was a homemade, memorable pumpkin pie. Get that recipe & make it, if that is the case.

If that is not the case (it wasn’t for me) the only alterations should be in the quality of the ingredients: a homemade, all butter crust, and the best eggs, butter, cream and spices you can find. I also make it in a tart pan, rather than a pie plate, because I prefer the ratio of pumpkin to crust this way.

As for your concerns about canned vs. fresh pumpkin: I always use canned. I love your enthusiasm, but homemade pumpkin puree is time consuming, labor intensive, and the outcome is no better (and sometimes worse). I’m sure there are those who would disagree, but as a former pastry chef I can assure you this is nearly the consensus in most culinary circles.

And you know me. I’m not afraid of extra effort. I’m no short-cut cook. If taking the extra hour or so to gut, peel and cook down a pumpkin made the best pie, I wouldn’t hesitate.

Pumpkin pie has never wowed me. At Thanksgiving, I usually have a small, obligatory slice, then go for whatever other pie looks the best, usually the homemade-looking one. I just don’t see the point of eating any dessert that isn’t really, really good. (Which is probably the only thing that is keeping me from being morbidly obese.) And I seldom come across a pumpkin pie that is really, really good.

This recipe though, I adore. It’s from The Pie and Pastry Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I learned most of what I know about pastry from this tome, and have never not loved a recipe from it.

A few more things: 

1. As much we insist on buying organic, Libby’s pumpkin puree is actually the best. (Can you get this in Japan?)

2. Don’t use spices that have been in your cupboard for years, go buy new ones.

And Bre*, if you are going to be purist about anything, have it be the pie crust. Just go for it and make it from scratch. Go slow. Read the recipe closely. Keep everything cold. Don’t be afraid to mess up. Make 2 (no, 4!) crusts at once in case one or two are too wet, or too doughy. If all 4 turn out well, freeze the ones you don’t use.** For me, a good crust is absolutely what separates the good pies from the great ones.

But if you don’t have time for a homemade crust, I understand. You have a whole country to explore, and your own blog to keep up with. Maybe you’ll write about what your first Thanksgiving in Japan was like? Must be surreal. I hope your not homesick! 

I miss you. Happy Thanksgiving Bre. Give Tom a smooch for me. I’m so grateful for you both. x

More Food, Less Pain, 
xo-L

*Now you know her real name, oops! You’d find that out anyhow upon visiting her blog, Lady Seeking Adventure, about her travels in Japan. Read it!

**Roll out the dough almost all the way & fold it over once, then again, then freeze.

Oatmeal

You may or may not have noticed that I only made it to day 8 of writing daily for National Blog Posting Month. I took on the challenge last November and succeeded, but this year I entered into it with a lot of trepidation. I must have known that trying to put an hour or so aside each day to tend to the blog would be feel like a chore, rather than fun.

I think that I’m experiencing the cumulative effects of not taking a vacation in a long time. I honestly don’t know why I haven’t gone away in over a year. I guess I forgot the importance of a change of scenery and routine. Regardless, it’s catching up with me. I tire easily. I long to do nothing. I want free time, with no plans. And solitude. Lots of solitude.

I took Friday off from work to help some Boston friends move. I drove an hour to get to them on Thursday night, with the intention of staying until Friday evening or Saturday morning. But as soon as I got there I realized the extent of my physical and mental exhaustion. All I could think about was how much I wanted a good night’s rest in my own bed, and a day of no obligations.

Once I was assured they had plenty of help for the move, and after a good meal with them at a local pub, I headed back to Newport. As I drove away, I thanked my stars for having friends who get me, and proceeded to do some serious car singing to stay awake.

After 9 (!) hours of sleep, I woke up on Friday morning thinking of oatmeal. This isn’t so odd, as I eat oatmeal nearly every morning. I usually keep it simple – just some plain oats in a cup, with a few walnuts and some local Aquidneck honey. I like it this way.

But on Friday I wanted my “fancy” version, if oatmeal could ever be so. I knew that I had pecans, brown sugar, and milk leftover from making pumpkin pie (post to follow). And I always have a container of thick cut oats* in my cupboard. I was hungry, and got right to it. I drip-brewed a cup of dark roast, then lingered over breakfast and The New York Times for an hour.

After finishing the whole bowl, I made a vow to myself to treat the next 3 days as a stay-cation. So I went for long walks, did some leisurely local shopping, and spent uninterrupted hours on the couch alternating between reading a book and watching my Hulu queue. I was in bed each night by 10, and got an amazing 27 hours of sleep in three nights. Guess I needed it.

And I kid you not, last night I dreamed of airplanes, and travelling. Shocking. 

When I woke today, I made the oatmeal again, then hopped in the internet to plan a real break.

Fancy Oatmeal for One

Toasting the oats gives them more flavor, but also more texture. Not to mention the lovely smell. I like to warm the empty bowl with hot water ahead of time, so the oatmeal doesn’t cool too quickly. This is to be lingered over, with a strong cup of coffee.


1/2 cup thick cut oats

5-6 pecan or walnut halves
2 dried figs, or apricots, or tart cherries
1 cup water
tiny pinch of salt
1 T brown sugar
milk or cream

1. Put an 8″ fry pan over medium heat. Toast the nuts in it, then chop them when they’ve cooled enough.

2. Keep the heat on the pan and add the oats. Shake them about & toast them until you start to see a little brown on them. Turn the heat down, and add 1 cup of water, (careful, it will boil very quickly & splatter a bit), the pinch of salt, and the dried fruit. (The fruit will flavor the oatmeal)
3. Let the oatmeal simmer and cook for a minute or two. Don’t boil all the water out – leave it looking wetter than you’d like, as the oats will continue to absorb water for a while.
4. Once it’s done, put the oatmeal in bowl. Sprinkle with the nuts and some brown sugar to taste. Add a little milk or cream, for richness.

More Food, Less Pain,
xo-L

*I prefer this brand’s Irish Style organic oats, which my local health food store carries.