...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


A Fresh Start

Our new year's celebration was fairly quiet and low-key.  A few friends came over with their children, we enjoyed good food and beverages, played games, conversed, then rang in 2011 after the kiddos had turned in for the night.  We popped open the mysterious magnum of Asti that's lived in our basement since before we bought the house almost five years ago.  We decided we had nothing to lose by uncorking it.  As you can imagine, it was flat (and very syrupy) though I can likely still cook with it.  Fortunately, we had a backup bottle of Lambrusco so we still got to toast with a little bubbly--or at least "fizzy"--at midnight.  Our Chicago-area friends stayed overnight with their kids and we had a nice breakfast in the morning, which allowed me to try my hand at slow-cooked oatmeal.  I mixed everything together in a crock-pot the night before and was able to easily and quickly serve it first thing when everyone woke up.  It was great for the kids who rolled out of bed and immediately asked, "what's for breakfast?"  No eggs to crack, bacon to fry, or pancake batter to mix.  I put the crock on the table with some additional toppings and gave everyone a clementine to peel.  Easy and delicious.

Slow-Cooked Oatmeal
Serve 6-8

Adapted from a recipe from the Outpost Exchange "Pantry Raid" column.  They advise putting this together at night and turning on the slow-cooker before going to bed.  A sweet-smelling breakfast will await in the morning.  If you're serving "picky" kiddos, I suggest not stirring before cooking, then you could scoop the plain oatmeal from the bottom.

1 c. almond milk (can sub. any kind of milk)
1 c. coconut milk
1/4 c. sucanat (or brown sugar)
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 c. regular rolled oats (Note: steel cut does not work for this recipe)
1 c. finely chopped apple
1 c. dried cranberries, raisins, or chopped dates
1/2 walnuts or slivered almonds
1/4 c. flax seeds

Grease the inside walls of the slow cooker with oil.  Put all ingredients in and mix to combine.  Cover and cook on low heat for 8-9 hours.  Go to bed and eat in the morning.  Serve with pure maple syrup, toasted pumpkin seeds, shredded coconut, and warm almond milk or whatever other toppings you can imagine.

Here we are about the start the first working week of the New Year.  Ben will return to work tomorrow and Vera and I will get back to reality and our weekly routine.  Even though it will mostly be the same old-same old, there is still something special to starting a new year.  It's a chance to set goals, write down new ideas, and clean the slate from the past season.  I don't have any resolutions, per se, but I do intend to continue my new eating plan and dive feet first into fresh culinary waters.  I will spend probably at least a couple of months re-teaching myself how to cook.  I am also hoping to get more involved, as Vera permits, with some organizations dedicated to economic and social justice.  As I've attended the Transition Milwaukee meetings over the past several months I can't help but thinking that all the great ideas everyone has including community gardens, reskilling, solar energy, etc. will only get us so far unless we make them accessible to more people of diverse cultures and economic levels.  Our church is linked to some of these groups around the city like MICAH.  If I can get involved in at least one event this year that will be a start.  Let's hope it goes farther.  I'm also hoping to continue powering down.  I feel like I go in fits and spurts with it, mostly in the warmer months, but it's important to commit year round.  I'm hoping to find a quiet break this week to reflect a bit on 2010 and get excited about 2011.

1 comment:

  1. I remember that pantry raid, but still haven't tried it! I have a newer crock-pot, and tried an overnight oatmeal once that burned terribly onto the sides and was rendered un-eatable. I've been gun-shy ever since. (I read that old crock-pots cook at a lower temp, since the new are "safer" and cook much hotter.) I want to try this, however, and thank you for reminding me! Maybe I'll drop a dish inside the crock-pot and fill partly with water for insurance...