Starbucks recently updated their breakfast menu. According to news sources, the new menu features items with fewer calories and more protein than their previous breakfast items, coffee cake and Rice Krispies' treats. The new menu contains the Chewy Fruit & Nut Bar, a Multigrain Roll, an Apple Bran Muffin and Perfect Oatmeal. The oatmeal is "finished with your choice of dried fruit, nut medley or brown sugar." And it costs $2.45.
Why anyone would need Starbucks to furnish his oatmeal is beyond me, especially when oatmeal that's equally perfect can be had for pennies. And before you go off saying you can't read directions on the box or that your oatmeal always ends up too runny or cements itself into a gelatinous clump, I'll let you in on a little secret: you can achieve perfect oatmeal by sticking to a 1:2 ratio, oatmeal to water.
Ingredients for one giant serving:
- 3/4 cups oatmeal
- 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons chopped dates
- 1 tablespoon raisins
- sweetener to taste
- (I'm fond of maple syrup, about a tablespoon, but I could also go for a tablespoon of honey or 2 level teaspoons of light brown sugar.)
- A couple pinches of salt.
- (You don't want enough to make the oatmeal salty, just enough to liven the flavors of all the ingredients and get them playing together)
- 1.5 cups hot water, if you're measuring at home
Here's my routine:
I begin by browning the walnuts with butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Toss the butter in, wait for it melt, then toss in the walnuts and let them sit a moment.
Note: The heat excites the oils and the caramelization gives the walnuts a deeper, rich, slightly smoky flavor. The walnuts cant be browned in larger batches and then stored in the fridge.
While the walnuts brown, I chop the dates.
When I have all my ingredients ready, I put the oatmeal, dates, raisins, walnuts, salt and syrup in a travel bowl and head off to work (with my own coffee). Once at work, I use the hot water on the coffee machine to top off my oatmeal. I don't measure, I just eyeball it. If my oatmeal's a little clumpy, I'll add some more water. By the time I'm at my desk and the computer's finished booting up, I have a hot, delicious bowl of oatmeal that's truly perfect, and I didn't have to choose between fruit, nuts or brown sugar.
It's oatmeal, people. Making it at home provides with you more choices and better ingredients, and you can make it in about the same amount of time you'd spend in line at Starbucks hammering away on your blackberry. You don't need some earth-toned, modern-day yuppie bar to give you good food. And you certainly don't need them charging you $2.45 for it. Put down the Blackberry, shut the laptop and grab a knife. You've got dried fruit to dice.