Friday, February 16, 2007

Oatmeal Variations

O Brave New World that has such bloggers in it. I have been "tagged for a meme" by Lucette, of Cooking Vintage, and to take up this challenge I must turn my thoughts away from the car to the kitchen. Lucette is obsessed with food, and asks us to name five combinations of two foods that go well together and five that do not. Well, I don't know about being able to come up with all ten, but here's the first of the foods that go together:

Oatmeal and candied ginger. I can hear it now: Mmmmm. I've been eating oatmeal this winter, because it's healthy and filling and keeps me from being hungry for hours afterward, but let's face it: it's a little dull. So I spice it up. I may have to save my other oatmeal variations for numbers two through five, so let's just say I use Old-Fashioned Quaker Oats, the kind that come in the tall cardboard cannister, evocative of kindergarten wastebaskets, and while the half cup of oats are cooking in the one cup of water, I chop up a few sprigs of candied ginger and lob them in. The ginger plumps up and adds an exotic note, almost Japanese. It's really the most successful of my variations, which also include:

Oatmeal and dried cranberries. This is pretty good, but I am now all out of dried cranberries, which came from a wonderful wholesale spice market on Cape Cod. I add a little maple syrup. The cranberries expand in the cooking process.

Oatmeal and dried figs. I haven't had this recently, but I tried it once when I was all out of raisins, which is my usual (if dull) addition to oatmeal, and it was pretty good.

Oatmeal and apricots. I haven't tried this, but I bet it would be good, especially with dried apricots.

Oatmeal and mango. Ditto.

So here are some foods that don't go together:

Oatmeal and cherries. What was I thinking? First of all, I had to pit the cherries, which was ludicrous. Then the cherries turned the oatmeal pink. And they retained heat, the way cooked fruit does. Not a successful variation.

Oatmeal and peaches. This would have been O.K. if I had simply sliced the peach (out of season, all the way from Chile) on top of the oatmeal, but I threw it in while the oatmeal was cooking, and it was no fun to eat, because the chunks of peach retained the heat (see Oatmeal and cherries, above) and also released a lot of their own water, the way apples do, so the result was mush studded with extra-hot glop.

Reese's peanut-butter cups and peppermint patties. Even if they're two of your favorite foods, they do not go together.

Guinness and ice cream. So I'm in Rome, in a lovely cheap (at the time) hotel room overlooking the Pantheon and the Piazza della Rotonda, and it's August, and there are gelaterie all over and everyone is eating gelato. The trouble is that there are so many flavors and so little time. Chocolate and hazelnut and pistachio and raspberry and stracciatelle (chocolate chip) . . . and Guinness. I resisted the Guinness gelato till the very last lick, which was sensible, because after trying Guinness gelato, I didn't want gelato ever again. It was awful. Another example of favorite foods that should be kept in separate countries.

Chocolate and prunes. (I'm with Lucette on this one.) Another travel story: In France, on the way to Lourdes, I made my friend T. stop in a town that is renowned for its prunes. I should be able to think of the name of the place (I think it was in Gascony), but we never called it anything but Pruneville. There was a prune boutique in Pruneville that offered chocolate-covered prunes, all you could eat. And I thought that was cruel, because of course one would not dare overindulge under the circumstances (remember the old Ex-Lax commercial? "Is three enough? Is five too many?") So I'll stick with Raisinets, thank you.


lucette said...

Oatmeal and apricots are good. I'll have to try the ginger.

erieblue said...

I love the idea of there being a prune boutique in the world.

paulalr said...

I think the prune city is Agen, also the home of Armagnac - both of which are in my cupboard - think I'll sample some!