Friday, August 4, 2017

A Mug o' Summer Comfort

Some days are for trying out new recipes and experimenting with flavors you've never used.

Some days are not.

Today is the latter.

In many ways (most of which I'll be skipping over, here, because this is not a therapy blog), this week has been tailor-made for curling up with a good book, with good music, and with a mug of memories.

I've got good music on my stereo (yes - I'm playing CDs on an actual stereo, which also accommodates cassette tapes and vinyl records), I spent much of yesterday - with its October-like weather - hunkered down with a decent book for book club, and this morning I found a mug to wrap up the week in.

When I was growing up, in a small town in South Dakota, there wasn't a lot to do in the summer. Okay. Yes. There was a ton of stuff to do, in the standard small-town kind of way. But if the neighbor kids were gone, and your siblings didn't want to hang out, the fallback was always to walk up to your mom and say "I'm bored." (Which, as we all know, is never a smart idea.)

When that was accompanied by "I'm hungry," there wasn't a freezer filled with microwaveable snacks, or ice cream, or whatever. Instead - especially on days when Mom just wanted me out of the house - it was met with a directive of finding a mug so that we could make what has become one of my favorite childhood food memories: Oatmeal and Brown Sugar.

Yep. That's it.

So, let's amass the ingredients:

Bonus points for adulthood: The perfect mug for this is from the South Dakota Festival of Books.

You might notice that there is no liquid, here. No water. No milk. Just "Quick Oats" and light brown sugar. Oh. And you might also have noticed the chocolate chips - but those came much later, probably when I was in grad school.

As I alluded, earlier, one of the really important ingredients in this is the mug. It needs to be big enough to support stirring without spilling. It needs to have a handle big enough to be easily held while sitting on a swingset (or reading a book). And it really ought to have a curved bottom, so that it is easier to get everything out of it with a spoon.

I usually start by putting the oats into the mug, because - since they're the lightest component - they'll work their way up through the rest as you go. (As opposed to the brown sugar, which could just end up compacting at the bottom of the mug.)

Caution: DO NOT go more than halfway up the mug. Not just because it becomes very spillable, but because you're dealing with dry oats. After a while - even if you really like them - they can get to be too much.

Trying to be "healthy" with this (although... come on... it is whole oats, so you're not doing too badly), I usually put in about 1/4 to 1/3 as much brown sugar as oats.

Not trying to be healthy at all (although... still... whole oats, right?), as I've gotten older - and emotionally needier - I've added in some chocolate chips. You don't need a lot of them. Probably only about half as much as you need of the brown sugar will get you enough to have one or two per spoonful.

I guess you could add raisins. (But... why?) I've also done shredded coconut, which is kind of fun.
So, there we go. Mug o' comfort from my days growing up in small-town South Dakota.

Of course, we don't have a swingset in our back yard in Minneapolis. But we do have a chaise in our porch. And it's a really nice day out. And I have about a third of my book to read for book club on Monday.

Yes, I have work I could be doing (should be doing). But, some days, a mug of comfort is more important.

In case you're wondering, the book is The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. It's ... well... it's suspense, but not really a murder mystery, since we know whodunit from the beginning. In many ways, it's better than I expected it to be, and in others it's worse than I'd hoped.
For the record, I think I was always sent outside with this to keep the mess to a minimum - as well to get out my mom's hair for a while. These days, I keep a Dustbuster on hand as I try to get out of my own head for a bit.

Either way, I raise my mug to my mom for this one. I'd say "Cheers" but, you know, talking with your mouth full is bad.

I suspect this funk won't last too long. And I've got a few recipes on deck that I really want to try out. But, if you've got some comfort food you'd like to share - or a recipe you'd love to see me blog about - let me know!

1 comment:

Robin said...

I still eat this, with raisins added (might try chocolate chips sometime). The "round-bottomed" mug is a requirement.
Thank you. I was also having "this" kind of week.