Snack. Snack. Snack. CRUNCH

Today was rough. But that’s what siblings are for. Because without my sister, I never would have seen this:

 

Her downstairs neighbor who works at a public school in Baltimore said it’s all the rage with the kids across the nation. I don’t know that many kids, so can anyone else weigh in on the veracity of this?

Heck, forget the target age demographic – this should be all the rage everywhere. Forever.  Just like the shelf life of Hot Cheetos and Takis (Takis??). Also, try watching the kid that comes in at 2:46 only once. Impossible. You’re going to repeat that part, and probably the whole thing.

Kitchen Sink Oatmeal and Thanksgiving Prep

It’s sweet potato city in here. Escapee cranberries are meeting slow squish-deaths underfoot. All four burners and the oven are blasting, so when Matt gets back from the store with the forgotten ingredients and opens the door, he’s going to have to Kurt Russell that Backdraft.  With two prep and cook windows in my work schedule between now and sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner – right now and Wednesday night after 8 p.m. – it made sense to get started on the dishes we’re contributing immediately. Plus everything I’ve read about bread dough seems to imply that patience is key, so desperation-kneading late on Thanksgiving eve didn’t sound like the best idea.

No time like the present, so this evening is unfolding to a long stretch of cooking in a sweltering kitchen accompanied by good playlists and healthy, energy sustaining snacks:

Shout out to RCocomon for introducing us to Jack Honey at Rath and Aimee’s wedding. Hot sauce in my bag.

In this cooking marathon, I’m running out of counter space, vessels, and Gruyere – Gruyere for snacking, not cooking. One can’t live on Jack and gourmet mallows** alone. Besides the twin benefits of an cheese/sweet consumption and whiskey swilling, if you cook early for Thanksgiving, you might find yourself with a little extra this and that, perhaps enough to cobble a teeny taste-test version of the big dish you’re contributing. Happy early Thanksgiving!

But the purpose of the post is to offer a suggestion for how to start your Thanksgiving morning. With a little fiber-filled breakfast, it’ll be easier not to binge on the cheese log (or brie en croute with lingonberry jam, pinky finger UUUP) and other appetizers and wreck your appetite for the big meal. So may I suggest a little kitchen sink oatmeal? It involves a mix of steel cut oats and rolled oats (a solution for random ingredients throwing off the ratios in a ragtag “recipe”), the end-piece of an overripe banana, that last little fourth cup of coconut milk lingering in the fridge, the teensiest knob of butter, the bottom of a few bags of nuts and dried fruit, and honey.

Kitchen Sink Oatmeal
Serves 4

1/2 cup steel cut oats
About a 1/2 cup rolled oats – you’ll use these to sop up whatever extra liquid the steel cut oats don’t absorb
1.5 cups liquid – could be all water, or a mix of water and coconut milk/regular milk/cream (if you use cream in your Thanksgiving morning oatmeal, hats off)
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 overripe banana, mashed
1/3 cup mixed dried fruit – I used dried cherries and these weird Turkish apricots that Matt bought, they are dark brown and frightening
1 teaspoon honey
Dash of cinnamon, cardamom (just a teensy bit!), and vanilla, if desired
Little knob of butter
1/4 cup chopped nuts, lightly toasted – I used pecans

Bring water (and other liquids) to a boil. (Bob’s Mill recipe recommended filter water, so use that if you’ve got it). Add salt and steel cut oats, reduce heat to a simmer, and put a lid on the pot. Cook for 10 minutes, then taste-test for desired amount of chewiness.  (There will be extra liquid in the pot). As soon as the steel cut oats are slightly chewier than your preferred texture, add mashed banana, dried fruit, spices, honey and vanilla, and sprinkle on rolled oats to sop up the extra liquid. Stir, cook for another 5-10 minutes until the liquid is soaked up, then add the butter. Put into bowls, and top with toasted nuts, and random toasted coconut left over from a fried rice experiment, should you have it.  Tada! – (everything but the) kitchen sink oatmeal.

**Laziness means you can’t bear walking another 3/4 miles to the normal grocery store to buy normal marshmallows at normal prices.

Roasted Delicata Squash (and Brain)

Because a recent spice experiment with delicata squash fell a little flat, I’m going to forego an original recipe and just push the vegetable.  It caramelizes beautifully, kicks butternut to the curb in terms digit-retention when chopping and all around flavor, per Apt 8 consensus, and it comes in a neatly portable Wawa shortie hoagie size. There’s very little waste because you eat the skin, and the seeds do extraordinarily well when prepared in pumpkin seed fashion. Matt likes it so much that I roast big pans of it that disappear in about a day and a half.  From the closed fridge. While we’re at work. City mice are crazy delicata aggressive.

(Also, sisters – remember when Dad would take creative license when bellowing out the theme song because he couldn’t remember the words? “They’re laboratory mice! They like soy sauce with rice!”)

Simple roasting instructions are below. The squash lends itself well to experimentation (though not all spice combinations are winners, as in my case), but I trust this culinary professional implicitly and am planning her preparation for next time.

Roasted Delicata Squash (and seeds)

2 delicata squashes
Large-flake kosher salt
Olive oil, depending on the size of your squashes

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Scrub the exterior of the squashes well as you’ll be eating the skins after they are cooked. Cut off both ends, then slice in half vertically. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and reserve to the side. Cut the squash into 3/4 inch slices, put in a large bowl, and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, and then toss to coat.

Arrange on a metal baking sheet, with the flesh of each slice (rather than the skin) touching the baking sheet – this will maximize caramelization. Bake for 15 minutes, flip the slices using a fork, and then bake for another 15 minutes or until the edges are browned and the squash is cooked through.

The seeds can be prepared just like pumpkin seeds – toss in an oil with your seasoning of choice, spread into one layer on a baking sheet, and bake for about 15 minutes in an oven at 300 degrees until lightly browned. Keep a close eye on them while they cook to avoid burning. Some nice flavor combinations (plus salt) include coconut oil and cinnamon; olive oil and spicy paprika; olive oil, chili powder, and a spritz of lime juice after cooking.