Over the past couple of months, I’ve had a pretty good run of cooking for myself. Not only has it led to healthier eating, it’s taught me a lot. Basically, unless I want the same thing for dinner every night, I have to figure out a way to make something new. As a result, my “utter obliviousness” in the kitchen has been ratcheted up to “marginal awareness”. Yes!
That is, except when it comes to cereal.
Cereal – breakfast cereal, milk’s true counterpart – is a love and a weakness of mine. It’s delicious, vaguely healthy, stupidly easy to prepare, and a stand-in for virtually any eating occasion. On most days it’s my first thought in the morning and my last step before going to bed. If eating it were a sport, I may just be the all-time leading scorer. (Consequentially, if eating cereal were a sport, how psyched would the people at Wheaties be?)
This all begs the question: If it’s all so great, what’s my problem?
Basically it’s this: since cereal takes up a third of everything I eat, there must be a ton of stuff I’ve been missing out on. How many opportunities to make a batch of muffins or a loaf of bread have passed me by? As it stands I have no clue how to deal with anything that has flour as an ingredient – whether it’s a birthday cake, a pancake, or a crabcake. Why keep hiding behind dry, weird little flakes when I can be enjoying the good stuff – warm, fresh from the oven baked goods – and learning while I do it?
I’ll tell you why: it’s easier, it’s safer, and I have an irrational fear that all things baked are completely reliant on heaping spoonfuls of butter, sugar, and other things I generally try to keep in check. Well this is where the fear ends. Starting today (last week, actually) I’m no longer using cereal as a crutch. It’s time to finally figuring out what these “grains” are all about.
My first attempt was actually over the weekend, when I made pumpkin muffins with Laura. Everything started out okay. The recipe seemed alright – simple enough, healthy enough – adapted from this recipe by Martha Stewart (or one of her minions, most likely). The problem came when I thought the batter could use another spoonful of pumpkin puree in it. Then another. Then another. Apparently, if your pancake batter is half pumpkin-mush, your pancakes are going to turn out like little disks of pumpkin-mush. Whatever – the flavor was there.
Anyway, just because the first trial was a failure doesn’t mean I’m giving up. It just means I’m using less puree next time. I will be back, pancakes. I will be back.
Anyone got a good recipe to start me out on?