My Storied Oatmeal Past [peanut butter overnight oats]

Oatmeal and I have tried to make it work for a really long time.  If I’m not mistaken, I’ve quit oatmeal before.

peanut butter overnight oats.

I love the texture oatmeal adds to baked goods, but as a meal in and of itself?  It takes a lot for me to get into it.  Here’s a little glimpse into my storied past…

At first I made Banana Walnut Baked Oatmeal, and I loved it. Because you bake the oatmeal, it mimics the flavor in, say, an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.  That was a winner.  It gave me the push I needed to try oatmeal on its own.  Oatmeal for oatmeal’s sake.

Not wanting to do something crazy like add chia seeds or kombucha to my oatmeal, I drowned it in coffee and chocolate.  Thus, Mocha Crunch Steel Cut Oats came to the breakfast table.  p.s.  Does anyone actually know what kombucha is?

The next oatmeal I tried was Brownie Batter Peanut Butter Swirl Oatmeal.  It should have been so completely life-changing.  It wasn’t.  Hence my retirement from oatmeal.

Every morning, I stumble into the kitchen and manage to get a smoothie into the blender, and you know what?  Sometimes you need a change.  You need to shake things up.  I know how good it is for me to drown myself in berries and blended spinach before anything else in the day, but I can’t do it every day.  My friend Thays Instagrammed her first batch of overnight oats the other morning, and I commented something along the lines of oh that looks so good, and she was nice enough to comment back with the recipe.

So, I made them.  Any good friend would, right?

Dear readers, I did not hate these oats!

I did not love these oats.  But I think I liked them.  I think we might be at the start of a beautiful friendship.  The secret may have been that I didn’t trash these up with brownie batter, or coffee, or anything else that maybe was actually too distracting from the oats.  They were spiced up with a little peanut butter, but otherwise, they were their oat-y selves.  I pulled them together right before I made dinner, and set them in the fridge until early the next morning. It’s something I can totally see myself doing when work starts up again (horrors!), and life gets hectic.

To make peanut butter overnight oats for 3, you will need:

  • 1/2 C peanut butter
  • 2 C old fashioned oats
  • 2 C milk (I have to use at least 2%, if not whole here)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1-2 bananas
  • handful of chocolate chips
  • handful of almonds*

Mix peanut butter, oats, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon in a small bowl with a tight fitting lid.  Cover and set in the fridge at night.  Go to sleep.  In the morning, portion the oatmeal into bowls, slice bananas on top, and add almonds and chocolate chips.

*No, I did not have almonds, but I dreamed of adding them and will have them next time.

What’s New

lemon blossom.

Though I still feel like I’m stretching my blogging muscles, and working hard to get back in the groove, there are so many things I want to share with you, my dear, dear readers.  They are completely and totally random things I’ve thought I should blog about over the past few months.  As I can’t sit down and write in depth about all of them, you are now privy to them in list form, because as my husband says, I love a good list.

I made these lemon blossoms, and the people I fed them to were kind, and said they were great.  I didn’t think they were as great as this, so they don’t merit their own post.

AGOMYR told me about Milk Books and I caught them during a sale, and bought a wedding album.  Well, I bought a voucher to make one.  It’s supposed to rain today, so I can’t think of a better activity than sitting inside, putting wedding photos together 5 years and 10 months after our wedding.

Speaking of which, there are about 8 photo books I want to make, so I am going to make a list of them all (#listsonlists), and make it my goal to work my way through them by Christmas.  I always want to make the books, and they’re so expensive, so then I think I’ll wait for a coupon, but I never remember to check, and then I don’t make them.  And I’m always so glad to have them, and love looking through them.  (In case you’re curious, I’ve used Pinhole Press, Artifact Uprising, and Blurb in the past and have been happy with the results of all three companies. I’m always chasing a coupon code instead of remaining loyal to one brand.)

And one last documentation tidbit.  I ordered Ali Edwards’ Week in the Life kit just in the nick of time, and plan on documenting a week in my life starting next Monday.  I have done this once before, though I never ended up putting an album together afterward.  I love the idea of going in-depth with the stories of the week, and need a kick in the pants when it comes to scrapbooking.  Project Life has been on hold for too long, and I’m hoping this is the jump-start I need to take more photos.

My friend and I were sitting on the dunes, watching a beach wedding, and we got to talking about wedding vows.  I have really strong feelings about them.  This article is great.

I missed these in my size at the Anniversary Sale, but will probably get them at full price anyway (and then roll my eyes about how I could’ve saved more) because I have no snow boots, and we have gotten a ton of snow the past two winters.  I understand this means it will not snow at all this winter, but I am sure I’ll find times to wear them anyway.

 

It Can’t (Just) Be About the Pictures

Once any blog gets big enough, the blogger may come out from behind their glossy corner of the Internet and do a post on “How to Be a Blogger.”  In this post, he or she will outline 5, or 10, or 20 tips you can put to work as you start your own blog.  One of them will inevitably be, take the best pictures that you can.

But here’s the problem with that when you write a food blog.

Unless you’re going at this gig full-time, or hoping to, you’re not planning your cooking around the times your kitchen gets the best light, or devoting entire days to recipe testing, in hopes you’ll walk out of the kitchen with a winning recipe or two (and a couple cabinets’ worth of dirty dishes as a bonus).  No, you, little blogger-on-the-side, are just cooking your regular food, and snapping a photo when something tastes especially good.  I used to have people over, and try to steal a minute or two, in between finishing off my meal prep, and putting my dishes on the table, in which I would take pictures of the food.  It wouldn’t be smitten-worthy, but it would be better than a shot, whenever I remembered, which was probably in the middle of a bite.

But twice in two weeks, we’ve served dinner for ten, and I just cooked a huge breakfast this morning.  Twice in two weeks I’ve thought of the perfect perch from the kitchen I could sneak off to in the middle of the meal, to capture a couple of Kinfolk, or Anthropologie-esque shots of everyone passing each other dishes, helping themselves to seconds, and laughing at the wonderfully amazing time they were having.  Dear readers, thankfully, they did have a wonderfully amazing time.  And perhaps even more thankfully (thankfullier?), I did too.  So I forgot to get up and take the perfect blog picture.  And you get the random one I snapped when I remembered to.

couscous risotto.

This photo is less than mediocre, but this couscous risotto with tomato and parmesan (loosely based on this) is way more.  We served it with rich people meat, brussels sprouts, and corn on the cob.

I took a lot of liberties with the recipe, but to serve 3 as a side, you will need:

  • Leftover tomatoes from this
  • 2 C chicken stock
  • 1 C Israeli couscous
  • a pinch of dried oregano (I never buy fresh because I so rarely use it)
  • Parmesan
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Combine the tomatoes and chicken stock.  If they’re both coming straight from the refrigerator, heat them in a saucepan over low heat to warm them up.  If they’re at room temperature, just leave them as they are.

Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of a pan and heat.  Add couscous and stir, tossing to coat and beginning to toast (about a minute).  Add one third of the tomato mixture, and bring to a slight simmer.  Stir till most of the liquid is absorbed.  Add oregano, and salt and pepper.  Add next third of the tomato mixture, continuing to stir until most is absorbed.  At this point, check and see how close your couscous is to being cooked through.  Mine only needed about another big spoonful of liquid before it was done.  Remove from heat and stir in heaps of Parmesan.  Serve hot.

 

August (and May and June and July) Reads, part II

Coming in with Part II of my August (and May and June and July) reads this morning.  Part I here.  Thanks for sticking with me. the look of love. p.s. Have you followed aglassofmilkreads on Instagram?  You should. Just Read: The Almost Nearly Perfect People, by Michael Booth Because I am obsessed with Scandinavia.  My family took a trip to an old (300+ years) homestead in Norway when I was in middle school and ever since we left, I’ve been dying to return.  I don’t know if it was so transformative because it was my first trip out of the country, because of our family connections to the land, or because we went on the summer solstice so I was just high on Vitamin D the whole time, but I am obsessed with Scandinavia, and I’m proud to say my ancestors hail from a place that people deem so perfect.  The author of this has lived in Denmark for quite some time, and he tries to paint a more complete picture of each Nordic country that shows you a deeper look than some of the studies that say Danes are the happiest, Finns are the smartest, and Norwegians are the richest, would have you believe. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr Because duh.  This one was interesting.  I started it ages ago, but had to return it before I was finished.  The chapters are short, which makes you think it’s the kind of book you can read for a bit, and then set aside.  That was my first attempt.  A couple chapters before bed, and away till the next evening.  After talking to AGOMYR, though, she said things picked up for her when she had longer chunks of time to devote to the story.  So here’s the thing with this book.  I loved it.  There were about fifty to a hundred pages in the middle where I felt things were dragging, but otherwise, I was into the story throughout.  It was beautifully told.  But.  Potential spoilers ahead:  Marie Laure makes a comment on page 23 that sealed the fate of the story for me.  As soon as she said it, I knew that was where the plot was headed.  And the storyline also reminded me a little too much of another story that features a diamond.  And another story where the person who holds a stone can never die.  I just kinda felt like I had seen this one before.  I wonder if I’d be so critical if it hadn’t won the Pulitzer. The Look of Love, by Sarah Jio Because I went to the library before I went to the beach, and picked up a ton of books that I had heard about and never read, and this was one of those books.  It’s short, sweet (to the point that it’s cheesy, but sometimes there’s a place for cheesy novels in one’s life), and is going to make a great chick flick someday.  Except it doesn’t look like anyone has gotten that far yet, so dear readers, go pitch it to a production company so I can watch it!  It has a Love Actually vibe in that (partially) takes place during Christmas, and some of the characters’ lives end up overlapping, and it shows us a glimpse of the love between all different kinds of couples.  I teared up in a couple of places at the end because I’m a sucker for a good love story. Reading: Nothing!  But I’m deciding which of these two to start this afternoon. Want to Read: Bennington Girls are Easy, by Charlotte Silver Because it keeps popping up on Amazon when I look up other titles in which I’m interested.  I read the plot synopsis and I’m intrigued enough to reserve it at the library. The Oregon Trail, by Rinker Buck Because I have a special place in my heart for the Oregon Trail, yet no desire to walk it myself.  I’m content to learn about others’ experiences. Kitchens of the Great Midwest, by J. Ryan Stradal Because it’s a food book!

August (and May and June and July) Reads, part I

It wouldn’t have felt right for my 1000th post to be about anything other than food, but now that that’s over, it does seem fitting that the next post be about books.  I haven’t posted about what I’ve been reading since April, so forgive me for taking some more Internet space with this book report than usual.  I’m going to break this post in two so you don’t feel like you’re tied to your screen for an hour while I blather about what I’ve read.  Or so you don’t click away.  There’s some good stuff here, dear readers!

all the light.

Just Read:

Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng

Because everyone was reading it and recommending it, and I was intrigued by the plot.  It seemed Serial-esque in nature, in that a girl was missing, and we had to figure out where she went, and I flew through it, and enjoyed it as much as the podcast.

The Guest Cottage, by Nancy Thayer

Because the girl on the cover was wearing something I would totally wear, and it was set on Nantucket, and what more could you ask for?  Nothing happens in this book that you didn’t see coming from about the fifteenth page, when you learn that a woman and (younger) man are accidentally both promised the same guest cottage for the summer, but it’s exactly the kind of plot I’m looking for in a beach read.

The Heir, by Kiera Cass

Because I’m a sucker for YA science fiction, and I read The Selection trilogy last summer.  This one wasn’t any better or worse, but I enjoyed the continuation of the story.  This time, it’s The Selection winners’ daughter who begins a selection of her own.  If you’re looking for a quick, fun beach read, I’d start with The Selection, and go from there.

The Knockoff, by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

Because Amazon thought I’d be into it, and in fact, it was something I would be into.  This reminded me of chick lit from the golden-era of chick lit.  It took me back to the days of Devil Wears Prada, Shopaholic, and vintage Jane Green.  Woman works at a fashion magazine, goes out on medical leave, trendy new young thing comes in to shake things up, and nothing is as it was when the woman returns.

Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll

Because it was a Skimm Read, AND because it takes place in my hometown.  The author went to a private school right where I grew up, and the high school in the story is loosely based on that local school.  People were talking about this one along the lines of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train.  Gone Girl creeped me out at times, and Girl on the Train did not at all.  This one didn’t either.  I wouldn’t consider it a thriller, as much as a book with a dark side.  I liked the story, though, and was almost annoyed at myself that I didn’t see the plot twist coming.  I am usually much better about looking for these things.

Primates of Park Avenue, by Wednesday Martin

Because I love New York, and even more, I love everything Upper East Side.  This book was an interesting look into the culture of moms on the UES, but I didn’t feel like I learned anything too shocking or revealing.  They want to send their kids to private schools that are intensely competitive?  They shop at expensive children’s boutiques that are more exclusive than Gap Kids?  They live much like it seems they do on Real Housewives?  I know, I figured, and duh, of course Real Housewives is accurate.  The NYTimes article about the wife bonuses (just a small part of the larger book) was much more shockingly scandalous.  The book as a whole?  Not so much.

Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee

I’m almost afraid to write about this because there is so much buzz about the book, and everyone had a different set of expectations before they picked it up.  I’ll tell you I enjoyed it very much.  I gave it four stars on GoodReads.  I will also tell you that it took me about four days to read, which, in the summer, is about three days longer than it usually takes me to slug through a book.  I was perfectly content to pick it up and put it back down as I came and went, and that is certainly not how I fared with To Kill a Mockingbird.  Lee’s first novel was the first book I ever couldn’t put down (though I was a voracious reader when I was little, getting to the next Babysitter’s Club novel was just never quite as urgent), the first book that ever made me cry, and the first book that changed me as a person and a reader.  Go Set a Watchman is not that book.  But I found the context under which it was published (and originally not published) fascinating, and was never not going to read it, and I appreciated getting to see Maycomb (and Atticus, and Jean Louise, as she’s called in this one) from another angle.

Part II coming tomorrow, dear readers.

Past book reports…

April//March//February//January//December//November

Happy 1000 {green beans with almond pesto}

Dear readers, you are reading my 1000th post.

1000.

That’s a lot of posting here on AGOM.  Some I’m incredibly proud of.  Some I still chuckle at.  And some are really just filler.  Sorry.  I bounce in and out of writing because I have all these words I need to get out and writing because I have a blog and I haven’t posted in a while and I should probably post something but what do I really have to say?

Which is kind of where I am right now with food posts.

The thing with 1000 posts is I have a lot of go-tos.  I have food I make again and again that I’ve already blogged about and that you don’t need to see again because there’s not much more to say.

Wow, this post has a lot of run-ons.

Anyway.

All that to say my 1000th post is not a six-layer cake, nor is it three-step cupcakes, nor some impressively roasted chunk of meat.  It’s a vegtable side dish.

I hope there are 1000 more posts in my future.  I hope you find them insightful and chuckle-worthy and not too much like filler.  And I hope you find some killer recipes that inspire you to get in the kitchen.  Because that’s the whole point anyway.

green beans with almond pesto.

I made Smitten’s green beans with almond pesto for a big summer dinner we hosted last week.  It was everything you’re looking for in a summer dish in that it featured seasonal produce, was easily prepped ahead of time (make the pesto, then just steam the beans when you’re ready), and is not going to undo your plans to look good in a swimsuit.

To make enough (as a side) for 8, you will need:

2 pounds green beans
1 cup (5 ounces or 140 grams) almonds, toasted and cooled
1 1/4 ounces (about 1/3 cup grated) parmesan or aged pecorino cheese, but no need to grate if using a food processor
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Leaves from a sprig or two of thyme
Pinches of red pepper flakes, to taste
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
2 to 3 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Trim green beans and cook in boiling water until crisp tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and pat dry.*

In food processor, grind almonds, cheese, garlic, thyme, pepper and salt to a coarse paste. Add vinegar, and pulse again. Stir in oil and adjust seasonings to taste.

Toss cooled green beans with almond pesto. Drizzling with extra olive oil for a fresh glisten. Dig in.

*Or, prepare the pesto, and skip this whole green bean part until just before dinner.

Does it Bring You Joy?*

crap.

No but really, does it?

While Marie-Kondo-ing the shit out of my life (I’m sorry dear readers, but there’s no other way to say it), this was a question I asked myself again and again and again and again and again, ad infinitum.  This is the question that is supposed to make me a minimalist (well, if I decluttered in a certain order, and stopped folding over my socks when I matched them, and a couple of other things).  I told myself if I hesitated for a split second when I asked myself, “Does this bring you joy?”, then the answer was no and I was better spent throwing that shirt in the giveaway pile/taking that bedskirt to the thrift store/asking my sister-in-law if she wanted that coffee table/just plain throwing it away.

Here’s where it got tricky for me.  Kondo’s question is DOES this bring you joy.  Not DID this bring you joy.  So, yes, that Vineyard Vines beach bag that you scored ten years ago at TJ Maxx for $20 brought you a hella lotta joy when you scored it and toted it around in the summers after college.  But that was ten years ago.  The bag is stained.  It has holes.  It served it’s purpose and now it’s done.  It brought you all the joy in the world when you found it for so much less than all those other sorority girls.  You got to walk around during the summers with an air of superiority, knowing you paid less than half of what most people paid for it.  If that’s not the definition of pure joy, I don’t know what is.  But that was ten years ago.  Today, it’s just taking up space in your closet, unless you pull it out when you go to the beach, in which case, it makes you look schlumpy, and like you don’t have six other cute beach bags you could be taking (you do).

And with that dear readers, the bag got tossed, and I grew one step closer to living a life better described here.

*This question is one Marie Kondo poses in her book, The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up, which every blogger had to read as part of our required coursework.  The more serious of us have already posted about it in great depth.

Instagram Recipes

A while back, I shared that one of my favorite new ways to collect recipes is to screenshot other people’s Instagrams.  It seems like these recipes, more often than not, are assembled dishes, rather than full-blown lists of instructions, but I found no shortage of inspiration in July.  Here are my faves…

shutterbean appetizers.

Not surprisingly, Shutterbean is killing it with these appetizer trays.

elise

And though I don’t think I’m strong enough to commit to a Whole 30, Elise’s dinner the other night had me craving this butternut squash/turkey/avocado skillet mix.

nikkirap.

I bet you I could eat this sandwich every day and not grow tired of it.  Nikki always has great food on her feed.  She goes to more restaurants in a week than I could try in a year.

food and wine.

I am obsessed with BLTs in the summer, and this is the stuff of my dreams.

shutterbean tacos.

And oh, look, it’s Shutterbean again with some breakfast tacos.  I am so inspired by everything the Benjamins eat.

aspirational table.

And this isn’t a recipe, but would you just look at this table?  If you had asked me what an aspirational table was I probably wouldn’t have known what to tell you but do you see this picture????  An aspirational table is everything here.  Shout out to CV(D) for making the hydrangea part of this a reality in my life.

Around Here

birthday cupcake.

Around here I turned 31.  It wasn’t quite as scary as I thought it was going to be.

Around here it seems like summer is finally starting.  Our house is done (as done as it’s going to be for now), I’m off to the beach, and my muscles are slooooooowly unclenching after a year of living out of storage.

Around here I finished 30 Rock.  It took me a couple tries to get into the series.  I must have watched the first episode a handful of times over the past few years, but this time something stuck.  (I think it might have been that I was warming up for it with The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.)  It was hysterical, and I’ve been texting AGOMYR about how long I can wait before I start it all over again.  Now I’m watching Royal Pains.  Why didn’t you all tell me to start that show sooner?

Around here I started a new Instagram account.  aglassofmilkreads  It’s exactly what it sounds like.  I promise a reading update soon, dear readers.

Around here I’m pinning and cooking again!  But I haven’t been able to sit down to blog about it.  I talked to my friend Sarah about this, and about finding my voice.  She promised it will come back, and I’m so glad you’ll all be here when it does.  Back soon, dear readers.

The Kitchen is Open

I’m in my kitchen right now you guys.  I’m blogging from my ten foot island.  I just browned butter on the stove and now I have to wait for 20 minutes for it to cool before I can get to work on these.  With any luck, these are the gateway cookies that will open the door to more and more (and more, and more, and more) baked goods.  I can hardly stand it.

chileans.

(That was our first meal at La Moneda.  Grilled Cheese.  I didn’t even cook it.)

I’m slowly finding my footing in the kitchen, and I’m doing it with classics that I can make with my eyes closed, and semi-homemade recipes wherein you get a jar of Stonewall Kitchen sauce, and slather it over a hunk of meat that sat in the oven for several hours.

the mixer lives.

And I’m dreaming of what I want to make next.  I don’t honestly know if I’ll get to these, dear readers.  Our house is still very much a construction zone, and may still be one until I leave for vacation.  But if I can, I’ll make…

Shutterbean’s Mushroom and Spinach Baked Rice Bowls

How Sweet Eats’ Breakfast Fried Rice

Julie Blanner’s Prosecco Sangria

Love and Olive Oil’s Olive Oil and Sea Salt Truffle Brownies

Food 52’s Pasta with Yogurt and Caramelized Onions (via Cup of Jo)