When I was little, the term OCD wasn’t in common parlance. At age 4 or 5, though, I’m pretty sure my bedtime requirements would have met such criteria. They were, not in exact order, as follows: I needed to be covered with my kitty and doggy blanket; I needed to have Mozart’s Symphony in G played on my little record player; I needed to have the hall light on, and the bedroom door open to just the right angle to let a spear of light fall into the bedroom; and I needed to have a drink of water brought to me once I was in there and before I got kissed good night. There may have been some other ones (I’m guessing “tickle my arm” might have been one, and also making sure my sleepy baby was tucked in with me), but the reason I remember these is the parody my Dad made of it all when he was put on tucking-in duty, which wasn’t his usual beat. As I tried to instruct him on what I viewed as the natural order of things for getting a good night’s sleep, and he kept leaving certain key elements out, he exploded in humorous exasperation, with something like the following parody of my requests. “Well,” he said, “why don’t I just go get all the cats and dogs in the neighborhood and dump them on your bed, bring in a pail of water, turn on all the lights in the house, and break a record over your head??!!” For some reason I wasn’t too worried he would actually do this, and the story got told as a joke a lot when I was growing up, mostly as a case in point about my Dad’s lack of patience with some aspects of parenting.
If it was supposed to, his outburst never had much of an effect on whatever I consider a good routine, whether it’s at the end of the day or the beginning. Over 50 years later, I’m still riding long waves of successive sameness until at some point, they peter out and I catch a new one, usually quite spontaneously. And then I ride that one for a while.
This very weird oatmeal has been my current favorite breakfast for a while now. I think it emerged in late summer, when I suddenly got tired of making myself a kale/blueberry/banana/hemp smoothie in the morning to help me absorb the vitamin D for babies my body likes best (some of us just never quite grow up all the way). After going to the beach in early August, where my son treated us to one of his delicious versions of baked oatmeal, I decided I wanted to go back to a hearty bowl of it each morning, instead of a tiny one to go with the smoothie. Perhaps it was the change of season and the cooler temperatures at the beach that weekend. Perhaps it was my willingness to experiment with how to add my teaspoon of spirulina to something other than the smoothie. . .maybe I got tired of listening to the blender in the morning. . in any event, a perfect storm of change started to brew, and before long, this oatmeal was born. And I’ve been eating it ever since.
One other influence I must give inspirational credit to is The Full Helping’s post about savory oatmeal. I thought I would try it, but in the end I was actually too lazy to make the recipe. So instead I covered my bowl of oats with lots of the same spices–a kind of “dry rub” on top of a bowl of oatmeal–and I liked it so much that I never returned to make the recipe. But if you are less lazy than I’ve been, and you want to try a truly savory oat dish, you might want to explore making Savory Turmeric Chickpea Oats instead. They look really yummy.
This is a template, which has gotten more elaborate as times goes on. I laugh at myself every morning as I get into my oatmeal ritual, but I also wouldn’t miss it for the world. Since I’ve been at my beach trailer, I discovered I could make it while doing my yoga, thus cutting down prep time and helping us get out the door for our morning walk, which has become even more germain now that I have acquired yet another Silken Windhound to learn the ropes from Romeo. Routines upon routines, intertwining, and hopefully staying just flexible enough to morph into something else when the time is right.
My Favorite Weird Oatmeal
1/2 to 2/3 cup of rolled oats (I use gluten free ones)
a couple of slices of apple, chopped
a deglet noir date, chopped
generous sprinkle of ground ginger
1 cup of water.
Put all this in a little saucepan and simmer until all the water is absorbed. Take it off the burner, cover, and set aside.
Meanwhile, mix up some “spirulina pudding”:
about a quarter or a third of a banana
about a teaspoon of carob powder (you chocolate eaters can use cocoa powder if you want)
a teaspoon of spirulina
about another teaspoon of some fruit sweetened jam (I use raspberry or blueberry)
more ground ginger
a splash of nondairy milk (my favorites are hazelnut or hemp)
mix and mash it all up into a pudding in the bottom of a cereal bowl
At this point you can add some liquid vitamin D and a small sprinkling of hemp seed if you want.
Scoop your cooked oatmeal onto the pudding. Dribble a small ribbon of molasses on if you want about half a teaspoon). Season generously with any and all of the following: cinnamon, ginger, cumin, tumeric, black pepper and garam masala. Top with a little more ground golden flax or hemp seeds. Dig in.
I don’t expect everyone to jump up and down in eagerness to make this weird bowl of oatmeal. Instead I’m posting it in celebration of the sometimes strange plant-based breakfast rituals we come to love. Here’s to the joy and satisfaction of food rituals–short or long lived–and rituals of all kinds, compulsive or otherwise–with a shout out to my old kitty and doggy blanket, which I saved so my son could use it. He called it his “mamet,” and literally loved it into tatters.