Sunday, September 5, 2010

Beginning with Breakfast

Well, it's taken me a few attempts to get this right, and this post may very well not be my last. Simply put: I adore cooking, eating, writing and thinking about food, and it's about time that I took the next step and committed to a blog. It's a gift I'm giving to myself, and I'm sure I'll thank me later.

What's the blog name all about? Well, the first 2/3 of my full name is Evan Chard; I think that both my parents and the universe planted an epicurean (produce-loving) seed in my unconscious from day one. And chocolate? That's just self-explanatory; I'm an equal-opportunity eater. To me, health is important, but if a food tastes like crap, it doesn't do your body or your state of mind any good. That's the idea I try to live by, and chocolate fits very neatly into that premise. I'm not very picky when it comes to the sweet stuff, either.

I've recently graduated college in New York City, which was not only my academic center, but also my eating and cooking playground; I wanted for nothing in terms of places to eat and ingredients for a glorious four years. Now that I've moved back to the country to work at a food magazine, I'm rediscovering my homeland through cooking at home and dining out. The great farmers markets and restaurants are harder to find in Connecticut, but for what they lack in quantity they make up for in quality.

So let's start small, shall we? Preferably with breakfast - my favorite breakfast - at least during this time of year, when peaches are impossibly, ephemerally sweet and fragrant. Throughout the year, I like to cook oatmeal with seasonal fruit at night, put it in the refrigerator, and then mix it with yogurt, maple syrup and nut butter in the morning for a filling, creamy, cold, perfect morning meal. Contrary to popular opinion, oatmeal is delicious chilled and mixed with something creamy; it's akin to rice pudding, taking on a form that's usually relegated to desserts.

Be forewarned: I use a microwave. Some people aren't cool with that, but I'm not one of those people. There's a time and a place for it.

Overnight Oatmeal with Peaches, Greek Yogurt and Crunchy Almond Butter
Makes 1 hearty serving (I'm big on breakfast), but you can adjust proportions to your appetite.

The night before:
1/2 cup oats
1 cup water
1.5 firm-but-fragrant peaches

In the morning:
1/2 cup fage 2% Greek yogurt
About 1 Tbsp almond butter
As much cinnamon as you can possibly take
A dash of vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

Slice each peach in half, then into thirds, then each slice each third into thirds again. Combine the oats and water, microwave for about 2.5 minutes, or until the oats and water bubble up. Add the peach slices and microwave again for 1.5 minutes, until they just begin to release their juices, and stir. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, stir in the Greek yogurt, almond butter, Stevia, salt and vanilla; add cinnamon and stir until just combined. Chill for a few minutes to let the flavors mingle, and then savor slowly, preferably with a long, slender iced tea spoon.

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