I love January. Clean slate, resolutions, and new beginnings aside, what I love most about this month is the weather. I know this isn’t exactly a well-loved month for the majority, nor well-loved weather, but over in my little corner of the world January is a blessed respite from the tropical heat. During our (non-existent) “winter” the air is a touch cooler, the breeze a little less steamy, and you can sometimes pass a whole A/C-less day without a single bead of sweat forming. Even in the cramped city I inhabit, where the hot, humid air is usually trapped between the buildings and the smog, I blissfully open my windows (a risky operation at best for fear of the dust and pollution) to let in the much welcome morning chill.
Another thing I love about this weather is that I can actually justify making all the “cold-weather” food I enjoy. Long-simmering braises, hearty soups and stews, and warm bowls of oatmeal. I love these foods, and will cook and eat them any time of the year, do not doubt it. Even in the heat of summer, if my cravings so dictate, you will find me nursing a pot of slow-cooked something or the other. But in January, ah blessed January, it has the extra pleasure of feeling so undeniably right.
Banana Muscovado Oatmeal
- 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 2-3 teaspoons dark muscovado sugar
- 1 banana, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
- Once boiling, add oats and cook until they have softened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the banana slices, saving some for topping, as well as 2 teaspoons of muscovado. Depending on the size of your bananas you may not use all of it. Stir the banana in – don’t worry about keeping the slices whole, some will break up and that’s what you want.
- Taste the oatmeal and add the remaining teaspoon of muscovado if you’d like more sweetness. If the oatmeal is too dry for your taste add the milk gradually until you reach your desired consistency.
- Remove from the heat, top with the reserved banana slices, and enjoy! Serves 1 (hungry breakfaster) or 2.
Despite relishing the cool weather, you can’t take the island out of the island girl, so this bowl of oatmeal is shot through with slices of sweet banana and the deepest darkest muscovado I could find. The muscovado gives this an awesome molasses-y flavor and the bananas add a tropical perfume. It's part homestead mornings under the duvet, and part lazy sarong-wrapped days. This is also something I’d love to have ready, warm and waiting, for little C…to fortify her for a day of exploration and discovery, her favorite activities.
I buy my muscovado at ritual, a charming little general store run by friends. They sell locally sourced, eco-friendly goods without plastic packaging. I love what they stand for and the positive vibe of the shop. Bringing your own containers is encouraged, along with slowing down for a coffee and a nice chat with the friendly proprietors. I like to buy black rice (from Nueva Ecija), sea salt (from Ilocos and Pangasinan), and of course the dark-as-sin muscovado (from Sultan Kudarat). They have a lighter muscovado as well but I love the deep flavor of the darker one. Especially in something as innocent as oatmeal, to which it adds a caramel-y complexity. Among the dusky grains are rough-hewn, solid chunks of hardened sugar. I like to sprinkle some of these gems on top of my oatmeal and let them melt into pockets of syrupy sweetness. The perfect breakfast for a not-quite-winter morning, to be enjoyed by both big and little people alike :)