30 September 2014

Most likely, perhaps

It was the beginning of a luminous day; September is well-known for them. Everything is going to look crystal once the sun is up. Low, deep, golden light will polish the hours, make them precious, more than they already are. The night was bothersome though, mainlined with the monotonous pitch of a single mosquito. I kept waking up to brush it off me. At the end I got it in the groove of my elbow, squarely on the vein. I wonder how it knew, or was it a coincedence? Most likely, perhaps.

"You smell of knives", I want to say to a man next to me on the train. 

It's light out, and gauging by my dress it must be summer, I don't know, I think it is. But I'm cold. It washes over me every time his cell phone rings, and that's often. The rings are muted, coming from within his denim jacket. His eyes are closed, but he is not asleep. I look at his wristwatch -- the single hand is at a millimetre past ten. A wiff of his perfume brushes past me as he turns in his seat. It smells bright like citrus and ginger and deep like incense smoke. It matches his face very well, the sharp jawline, high cheeckbones, broad forehead. A birthmark on his neck looks like a merlot stain, and it's close to the pulsing artery. My eye keeps falling to it. It makes me feel unsafe.

The phone rings again and I quickly look away. "I'll call you back in seven minutes", he says and hangs up. The train groans and starts to move.

"You smell of knives -- unsafe, expensive", I want to say, but wake up instead.

The morning is in its double digits now and I'm ravenous. I brush my teeth, then go to the kitchen to make breakfast. It's going to be the very best oatmeal.

It will take seven minutes.

The Very Best Oatmeal
Adapted from Whole-Grain Mornings, by Megan Gordon
Yield: 2 servings

I don't like gummy, gluey, slurpy oatmeal. I like oatmeal where oats keep their shape, are perfectly cooked but still chewy. I'm not a big supporter of superlatives, but this one is indeed the very best oatmeal: equally perfect right off the stove as it is cold. (I often take it with me to work for lunch.)

Toast the oats to bring out their nutty flavor, add the oats only when the water is at a boil, don't stir. Once you add the oats to the pot, turn off the heat, cover said pot and step aside.

Here we go.

120 g (4 oz) rolled oats
60 ml  (1/4 cup) milk or oat/nut milk
195 ml (3/4 cup plus 1 Tbs) water
A pinch of salt
A pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Warm up a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oats and toast over low heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to smell fragrant and nutty and take on a light golden hue, 5-7 minutes. Just so you know, if you skip this step (I often do) the oatmeal is still going to be at its very best.

In a medium heavy-bottomed pot, bring the milk, water, salt and cinnamon (if using) to a slow boil over medium heat. Add the toasted oats and gently stir once or twice. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Allow the oats to sit on the burner for 7 minutes. Don't stir, don't peek. After 7 minutes, remove the lid and check the oats. If they are a little wetter than you'd like, let them sit in the pot, covered, for another few minutes.

Serve with your favorite toppings. I like mine with a little honey, cashews and blueberries for now. Store the leftovers in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 5 days. To reheat, you'll probably want to add a bit more liquid since the oatmeal tends to dry out with time.