Friday, February 25, 2011

Oatmeal with more sugar than a Snickers. Brought to you by ... McDonald's.

Others will argue that the McDonald’s version is more “convenient.” This is nonsense; in the time it takes to go into a McDonald’s, stand in line, order, wait, pay and leave, you could make oatmeal for four while taking your vitamins, brushing your teeth and half-unloading the dishwasher. (If you’re too busy to eat it before you leave the house, you could throw it in a container and microwave it at work. If you prefer so-called instant, flavored oatmeal, see this link, which will describe how to make your own).

If you don’t want to bother with the stove at all, you could put some rolled oats (instant not necessary) in a glass or bowl, along with a teeny pinch of salt, sugar or maple syrup or honey, maybe some dried fruit. Add milk and let stand for a minute (or 10). Eat. Eat while you’re walking around getting dressed. And then talk to me about convenience.

The aspect one cannot argue is nutrition: Incredibly, the McDonald’s product contains more sugar than a Snickers bar and only 10 fewer calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger or Egg McMuffin. (Even without the brown sugar it has more calories than a McDonald’s hamburger.)
You know, aside from the fact that the fruit they show raining down on the oatmeal in their commercials looks ... just wrong somehow to go on oatmeal ... I figured they were messing it up. Mark Bittman tells us all about it.

I, myself, am intrigued by his no-stove version of oatmeal. I always have a supply of homemade granola around but this sounds ... interesting. I'm going to try to remember it this weekend. And I'll report back.

I remembered later that, as Salome Ellen points out in the comments box, that this raw oatmeal soaked in milk is muesli. This made me even more curious to try it.

Saturday morning ... I did just that. I obviously am not a muesli person. The oats were so raw and floury tasting that to me it seemed perfect for anyone who loves eating raw oatmeal cookie dough. I, personally, found it disgusting. Though the sweet milk was good.

However, I would be happy to point everyone to Overnight Oatmeal which can be made in a slow cooker with a minimum of trouble and very little expense.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Learning to Cook

This one's for Margaret who wished I would blog from the kitchen more.

I actually have a couple of little tidbits about cooking lately, but no time to commit them to pixels at the moment (no wonder this poor little place is so neglected). 

So here are a couple of cookies to tide you over till dinnertime. Enjoy!

Learning to Cook
from the comic genius that is xkcd

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Art of Eating In

Cathy Erway needed an interesting subject for the food blog she was considering beginning. She decided to give up eating out, though that would be difficult for a young twenty-something in New York City, and begin cooking her meals at home. What began as an interesting experiment became something of an obsession. As Cathy's blog, Not Eating Out In New York, grew in popularity, she threw herself into the project with an increasing passion that lasted two years.

The Art of Eating In chronicles that two year period. The book isn't composed of blog entries but is a memoir with recipes of Cathy's journey of discovering the wide world of cooking and the myriad forms it can take on in New York City. This leads to her participation in such adventures as cook-offs,  underground supper clubs, urban foraging, and joining a freegan group for some evening foraging (dumpster diving, etc.).
For our next stop on the tour, we walked a few blocks south to a small upscale grocery store. The store was closed, its dim lights exposing the aisles of gourmet food inside. The store was closed, its dim lights exposing the aisles of gourmet food inside. At the curb in front lay our target—a disheveled heap of black garbage bags.

The group began tearing into the bags with a careful, yet determined dexterity that must have come from much experience. They would feel around the outsides first, then untie the top and take a peek in. I helped open one bag, which was filled with a variety of produce. Hands reached in from all directions around me, and one by one, fruits and vegetables were removed. Finally, I stepped back and surveyed what had come out of the group of bags so far. Along the sidewalk, the group had lined up a cluster of several decent-looking apples, some with bruises here and there. Many more spotted bananas were recovered, some good-looking pears, and several tomatoes, which looked wet on their surfaces, probably from condensation and being squashed beside something else, but otherwise fine. I was amazed to see bag after bag of prewashed mixed salad greens emerge from the garbage as well. The bags were sealed shut, and through the clear plastic, the greens still looked perfectly crisp. But the telltale expiration dates on their packages were one or two days past. Chatter floated around about what to set aside for the freegan group dinner the next evening. ...
I enjoyed reading about Erway's more unconventional adventures such as the quest to find a good theme for a supper club. I found it amusing when reading about her friends' dedication to truly test menudo's fabled qualities as a hangover cure (they went out the night before and got well and truly drunk so they were hung over the next day). Erway's research into subjects like the history of restaurants seemed sound as did her other forays into discussing food history.

The personal improvement into a confident cook was less interesting because anyone who has read much food writing  has encountered this sort of story often. They generally follow the same developmental track and Erway is not unique in her story. It is not badly written; it is simply not that unusual. The story sparkles much more when reading about the investigation of the different ways New Yorkers express themselves through food (the supper clubs, foraging, etc.)

Erway also relates her personal dating life, evenings spent drinking, various hook-ups, and other such details of her life. These I could have done without. The cooking and other food related activities were plenty interesting without having to slog through the loss of her boyfriend and dating adventures. They weren't that unusual and didn't add anything to the overall story. It is too bad the editor didn't use a firmer hand in directing the book's focus. However, these are not difficult parts to skim over and the book is interesting despite them.

Note: This was a review book. I'd have said the same either way.