Saturday, December 03, 2011

Breakfast #52: Christmas Oatmeal

It’s December!  For many of you, that means that Christmas is in the air.  In the Philippines however, Christmas season officially start when the months end in “-ber”.  That means, for us, Christmas starts in September, when the shopping malls and their ilk let the first decorations out and the first strains of carols can be heard over their PA systems.  By December, the season is in full-throttle, steam-rollering its way over us, both guns blazing.

Before you throw eggnog and Scrooge McDuck at me, hear me out.  In truth, I DO like Christmas!  It’s the hyper-consumerist roller-coaster ride it has become over here that I am not too fond of.  And all the over-bright wrapping and trappings that, more often now, overshadow everything else.  Plus the growing number of people that seem to be more stressed then celebratory.  Is something stressing you about Christmas?  Take a good and honest look at what that thing is and perhaps (I’ll bet) you can skip it this year.  Or at least part of it.  Really.  Do what you want!  It’s Christmas! ;)

December is, in actuality, my absolute most stressful month at work with year-end reports, transitions, and trying to keep business going while everyone else is rushing off to holidays.  Scurrying to buy Christmas presents?  Choosing between holiday parties?  Cooking up a storm?  Christmas cocktail hangovers?  Oh, how I would much rather be doing all that!  Christmas is my respite, my reward.

It is also the season when you can buy freshly roasted castañas (chestnuts)…so it can’t be all that bad ;)

Christmas Oatmeal
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 apple, chopped into small dice
  • 1/2 cup peeled roasted castañas/chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons raisins
  • A couple of dashes cinnamon
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • A pinch of ground cloves

- Heat the milk and water in a pan until tiny bubble appear on the side and the milk is hot but does not come to a boil.  Add the oats and stir.  Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After 10-15 minutes add the apple, castañas/chestnuts, raisins, and spices.  Stir and cover.  Cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until oatmeal is to your preferred consistency.  Add more water if it becomes to dry.
- Serve warm.

One of the things I love about this time of year is when the castañas vendors come out, stirring their huge vats of nuts.  A warm, freshly roasted chestnut is true bliss – and, at this time of year, bliss that is easily had.  I’ve infused this oatmeal with what I think of as Christmas flavors***.  This is perfect to have on a cool December morning, although the weather does not seem to be cooperating these days. 

Christmas does not have to mean a trillion lights and over-organized parties, and spending until your wallet whines (unless, of course, you want to…that’s fine too).  It can be about your own traditions, your own ways of celebrating, with the people you want to celebrate.  It can be the time of year when you give everyone an extra hug, or tip the waiters more than usual, or enforce pajama weekends and air guitar competitions, or just add a little spice in your morning oatmeal.  It’s really up to you.  Just do it with joy in your heart and everyone around you will be better for being in the presence of a joyful person.  Happy December everyone!

***I've used some of the same Christmas flavors, like the castañas and the apples, in my column in the December issue of Yummy magazine which is out in newsstands now.  If you are hereabouts, you can pick up a copy!


Nisrine said...

I love steel cut oats and I must say this oatmeal is really appealing to me with its holiday spunk.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A perfect Xmas breakfast treat!



Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

I often attempt a Christmas oatmeal too..but never had a set recipe! This sounds lovely. Thank you :)

[pinkc00kies] said...

wow, healthy but looks so yummy! =)

Barbara said...

I love Christmas. The tree, the carols, the food, the presents.

Faye Paras said...

yay! another oatmeal recipe! keep 'em coming :)) i can only imagine how festive this smells and taste just by looking at the ingredients! can't wait to make my own version! thanks for sharing!

Junglefrog said...

I agree that Christmas has become quite commercial in many ways but I also love it. And I love your oatmeal Christmas version!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Nisrine! I love steel cut oats too!

Hi Rosa! I am so enjoying it this season :)

Hi Brittany! The Christmas flavors just work with oatmeal don't you think? :)

Hi pinkc00kies! Best of both worlds :)

Hi Barbara! I do too...I like to keep it simple despite going against the tide over here :)

Hi Faye! So glad you are enjoying them! You are right...the smells are great, especially in the morning when you need a pick me up :)

Hi Simone! I just forgo as much commercialization as I can and enjoy the parts I love the most :)

Patricia Scarpin said...

Oh, this looks so good, Joey!
My workload in December is quite strong, too, but I love the month and the holidays. Your oatmeal is perfect for this time of the year!

Susan from NC said...

The oatmeal sounds delicious, but here in the Deep South, I'll have to substitute pecans for chestnuts!
Your comments on the commercialization of Christmas really resonated with me -- my husband and I are going through a rough financial patch, and decided no "boughten" gifts except to my grandson and youngest daughter. EVERYONE in our extended family heaved a sigh of relief, and followed suit -- guess it just someone to speak up to stop the madness!


Shalum said...

Ooooh! Haha! Something for the Crhistmas morning!:) Very nice!

Anh said...

A lovely breakfast! I can eat this anytime ;)

Randie said...

This looks awesome! I eat oatmeal for breakfast all winter long. I'll have to give this a try.

Rita - Cake Pops said...

I have oatmeal every morning for breakfast and this sounds like the perfect holiday twist to my oatmeal breakfast in the morning

ChichaJo said...

Hi Patricia! The holidays are what keep me going! :)

Hi Susan! Pecans!! I can only get those imported and they are one of the most expensive nuts to buy over here! I so can relate on the gifts front and I am sure a lot can as well – I love gifts as much as the next person but they can get quite out of hand sometimes!

Hi Shalum! Yes, Christmas morning with a hot cuppa :)

Hi Anh! So can I :)

Hi Randie! Since we have no winter I eat it all the time :)

Hi Rita! Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfast foods :)

Sanjeeta kk said...

Love this oatmeal..would be just right for my weekend breakfast treat! Glad to find you on twitter.

Loveforfood said...

that is healthy.. i always have oatmeal for breakfast. going to try out your new recipe.

Pille said...

Great Christmas version of your daily porridge (well, once-weekly, in our case). Not so sure about chestnuts - they're hard to come by here and therefore I don't associate them with Christmas, but the apple and the spices for sure!!

Mich said...

YUM! I need a new oatmeal to mix things up- love the addition of chesnuts!

Justin said...

Sounds good! For me a spoonful of brandy butter instantly makes any bowl of porridge christmassy and delicious.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Sanjeeta! Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy the oatmeal :)

Hi Loveforfood! Hope you like it! I love oatmeal :)

Hi Pille! Chestnuts are out here every Christmas :) I’ll trade some for chanterelles :)

Hi Mich! I am always looking out for new things to do with my oatmeal :)

H Justin! Brandy butter!! That sounds heavenly!

Saffron said...

Wow!Really appealing, Easy to make and Excellent oats receipe.Thanks for sharing.