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What? Another way to cook oatmeal?

No, of course not. It’s not how to cook but how to plan. See, I got home from a movie with a couple of friends and as it was just about 10 PM, I started thinking about breakfast for tomorrow. Oats, yeah, plenty (organic as it turns out…not that I overly care for organic vs commercial) Mangoes? Yeah, wife had taken a couple, removed the flesh, and frozen it for later use. But…what else?

Mango is tropical…which invites coconut milk at least, and maybe even some dried coconut. Soo…thus far we have mushy oats for a base texture, mango for some sweet fruitiness, and what else? Something with a crunch, don’t you think? Almonds? Sure. And…pistachios? Yeah, I think so.

Am I done yet? Oats, mango, almonds, dried coconut, pistachios, all in a nice mix of almond milk and coconut milk? How does that sound for breakfast? I think it sounds pretty damn good.

Ok, no coconut milk for the record. I didn’t think it necessary and you know how it is–crack open a container of that stuff and if you don’t use it all in a few days, all the rest won’t make it more than a few days.

See, that’s planning. Start off from a simple thread like…oats. Look in your fridge of pantry for something to associate it with, and you can get on a roll. I started out by toasting the nuts for about 10 minutes at 350F. Toasting brings out the flavor, keeps them crunchy when mixed with the softer oatmeal. (Quick fancy fact; the pistachios cooked a bit more quickly than the almonds and I had to toss about a dozen of the pistachios because they were a bit…overdone. No worries, still enough left to work.)

Let me also let you in on a little secret–you don’t have to figure out flavor pairings all by your lonesome. I often refer to The Flavor Bible once I get a flavor combination like oats and mangoes in my head. Looking up ‘oatmeal’ and ‘mangoes’ gives you a lot of suggestions as to what has worked well historically or traditionally with those food ingredients. An invaluable tool.

You can find it here or, if you like the notion of actually going to a bookstore and buying it yourself, then try here as well. I have nothing against Amazon per se, but I also like to support my local independent booksellers as much as possible.

For that matter, your local library is a great source, as well. You can borrow cookbooks, photocopy the recipes you really like without guilt (unlike going to bookstores and taking camera phone hi-Rez pics of your discovered recipes and saving $25-40 on the cost of a book). For that matter, many of the recipes available each month in Bon Appetit, Saveur, and Food and Wine are regularly available online as well–often for free.

My wife cogently notes that I often get my recipe ideas online, rather than from books. All I can say is–I like books.

So…mango, pistachios, and almonds with coconut milk oatmeal. Add some flax meal if you want to pump up your anti-cholesterol fight, add a bit of maple syrup for sweetness if you’re inclined rather than white sugar, and if you throw some fresh blueberries in with this, no one will chastise you.

Do note that if I hadn’t had the frozen mango, this dish would have probably been simplified to blueberries and oatmeal with flax meal and some random toasted nuts. Which would have been fine, but let’s face it–what makes cooking interesting is the play aspect, don’t you think? As a kid, didn’t you put sugar in water, try to cook an egg on the sidewalk on a hot day? Or at least…heard the stories. So play is important.

Now it’s practically springtime! Get up early! People who get up early with the sun statistically have a lower BMI than those who don’t. In other words, getting up early can help you keep your weight down.

SPECIAL ADDED POSTBLOGSCRIPT:

Before leaving for work today, I pulled out a couple of nearly boneless trout (and if there are bones in the fish, just like an errant eggshell in an omelet, it will end up on her plate rather than mine–god only knows what tiny little karmic transgressions she did in her life or earlier to deserve this, but that is her karma and I am her instrument) for a late dinner tonight. That was planning, or at least thinking ahead. My flavor bible says that manchego goes well with trout so this evening, in the interests of cutting back on fats (beneficial as they are), the trout will be served en cocotte style in parchment along with aromatic vegetables like shallot, some herbs, and maybe some greens in garlic on the side. I’ll buy some cooked rice at the deli for carbs.

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