Friday, January 16, 2009

Gratitude for Small Things like Oatmeal

I've noticed lately that winter doesn't bother me as much as it used to. I've taken a more reflective approach to the cold and the snow and the sunless days. I can't change it, instead I've learned how to just BE in it.

Being in winter means enjoying the fact that the pace of my days is a bit slower, and that the food on my plate is comforting, warm, and hearty.

Specifically winter makes me grateful for:

1. A hot bowl of oatmeal first thing in the morning.

2. The beauty of icy crystals on my window in the morning sun.

3. Being able to justify putting on pajamas as soon as I get home from work because it's dark.

4. Cuddly, warm cats on my lap.

5. Toasty wool socks.

Honestly, the more I eat oatmeal, the more I love it. Waking up with a meal that is warm and creamy, fragrant with cinnamon and dotted with jewels of dried fruit is a fine way to accept the day graciously, and openly.

Of course eating your breakfast with a happy, purring cat sitting in your lap helps too.

I have eaten a bowl of oatmeal every single morning for the past 19 days, and I'm not tired of it. Oatmeal is a blank canvas. Oatmeal will take any suggestion or whim that you throw at it, and embrace it. I see starting a pot of oatmeal each morning as a ritual open to endless variations. Simply put, oatmeal is expansive.

Here's the basics for A Bowl of Oatmeal Possibilities:

1 cup liquid, (milk, soy milk, rice milk, water it doesn't mater.)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup quick-cooking oatmeal

Bring your choice of liquid to a boil. Add a pinch of salt. Stir in oats and cook until desired consistency is reached, about 1 to 3 minutes.

Stir in any combination of flavorings:

Dried Fruits, such as: cranberries, raisins, cherries, apricots, dates, figs
Fresh Fruits, such as: sliced bananas, sliced pears, diced apples
Nuts, such as: toasted almonds, chopped walnuts, sunflower seeds, peanut butter
Sweeteners: brown sugar, vanilla-scented sugar, maple syrup, honey, chocolate chips, coconut

Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon and top with yogurt if so desired.

I've never made the same bowl of oatmeal twice, but at its core it is always comforting familiar, like a favorite pair of wool socks. Oatmeal isn't glamorous, in fact its allure lies in its humble proletarian roots. Oatmeal makes me feel well and balanced and grounded. And that's the way I want to start my day, 19 days in a row and counting...

So what 5 things are you grateful for this winter?


jana (and sometimes renee) said...

I'm thankful for my little money-saving space heater that I carry around with me everywhere I go in my apartment (even the bathroom. You think I'm joking), for curl-up-with-me books, tea, goose-down throws, my dad's old and cozy Stanford sweats, big windows that let in sun and display the harsh yet delicate beauty of winter, and nutmeg. Nutmeg makes winter so much more fun.

Was that five? Oh, and for friends' blogs to occupy my time when I don't want to go outside. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I'm thankful for oatmeal too, I have eaten it everyday for over a year and am not tired of it, my warm comforter on my bed, my cat who sleeps with me to add heat, my new warm fuzzy boots and all my knit hats to keep my bald head warm! I love that picture of oatmeal with Henry looking at it. Does he eat oatmeal too? Oatmeal is so versatile isn't it? Mom

The Baklava Queen said...

How lovely -- and I just had oatmeal this morning, too, with cardamom, dates, hicans, a bit of whole milk, and a sprinkling of maple sugar. Such comfort!

And I'm thankful for heavy wool sweaters, effective cleats (it is ICY out there!), soft open snow flake bundles that let you examine their lacy structure, the scent of bread dough, and plenty of movies. :-)