The Alpha Blonde

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This article was written on 16 Jan 2015, and is filled under family, health.

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That tastes familiar

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This winter I’ve been home enough to really cook and bake. In addition to trying new things (I just started using my Weight Watchers app to search recipes and found some killer shepherd’s pie and posole recipes) I’ve taken a few trips back to my childhood. I’m so thankful that our tastebuds remember things for us, I’ve spent lots of time with my great-grandmother, my grandma, and my grandpa and step-grandmother in the past few months as I’ve worked my way through my favorites.

First was a good, hearty vegetable and beef soup my grandma used to make. Not having a physical recipe for this one, I called my aunt to confirm what my memory was telling me I needed to pick up from the store. Hamburger, carrots, celery, tomato sauce… whatever was in the fridge, bay leaves… I just kept playing with it until it tasted just like I was 7, sitting at her table in the tiny dining room area and looking at her china hutch filled with the typical “good china”, but then also a handful of funny coffee mugs. “You asked for a half cup of coffee” read one, which was exactly that- a ceramic half cylinder with a handle.

Then my mom requested I make coffee cake for Christmas. Coffee cake was a staple at family gatherings when my great-grandmother was around. “Coffee Cake” is actually a misnomer, it should actually be called “Cake That Acts as a Vehicle for Fruit and Rivel Topping”. I pulled out the “Feasting With Zion” church cookbook that has many of her recipes in it and I, well, I cheated.  I skipped to the easy-bisquick instructions. But the sentiment was there, and so was the flavor. Even though I live in her house, the decor is so different that I don’t often get flashed back to my childhood spent here visiting with her, catching ladybugs in a jar, and then begging her to teach me how to bake. My favorite was when we had been watching Nickelodeon (which she pronounced NickelAYdeon) and I asked her to show me how to make grebble- little doughnut like puffs. She popped up and got the oil out and we got to work. Making coffee cake felt just the same way, I was a little girl and she was there telling me which measuring cup to use on each ingredient.

I made the decision to reform my eating habits, which had gotten a bit lax after having the baby, and my grandpa and step-grandmother were who I turned to to help me. My grandpa is a yogi, he’s been teaching yoga for at least 50 years and his wife Helen was a retired home ec teacher and a damn good cook. While I wasn’t always in the kitchen with her, I remember best the flavors we had at lunch when we’d stay there during vacation. It was always beans, tortillas and avocado. If we were there early enough in the morning, it was 11 grain cereal. We always ate this while CNN played on the TV. He had satellite and we marveled at being able to watch Disney Channel 3 hours ahead of time. I ran to the store and stocked up on beans and avocado and then began the job of tracking down the grains to recreate the cereal.

A typical grocery store doesn’t really sell much real food.  It’s impossible to find just plain, whole grains. I had to seek them out at Sprouts and Whole Foods. It was worth it, though. This cereal is so dang good and filling. It has lentils in it, darnit! I had lunch with my grandpa a few weeks ago and told him I’d fished his recipe out of his book “How to Stop the Yo-yo Diet Syndrome” and he smiled and said “In recent years I’ve been also adding an egg to breakfast.” I think that was approval for my new direction.

For sticking it out through my sensory memory lane, here’s the recipe.

recipe

Just heat 1 cup grains in 3 cups of water to a boiling and let it sit overnight. Then warm it up in the morning and enjoy! 1 cup makes 4 servings of cooked cereal.

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