Chocolate Oatmeal

Newsflash!
In early February, I did an interview with Isabelle Gallant of CBC, talking about this project. I’m happy to say that it aired on Monday of last week, and you can have a listen here. (I start at the 9:02 mark.)
Chocolate Oatmeal

Chocolate Oatmeal, garnished with chocolate chips
Good Decadent and cheap

Today, Library Life Hack is proud to present the last of seven oatmeal recipes found in “Good and Cheap”. This one doesn’t actually appear in the PDF version of the cookbook (which is a free download at leannebrown.com) but you can find it on page 10 of the print edition.

Ingredient Notes
I used regular rolled oats instead of quick oats. Beyond that, the ingredients for this recipe are all basic kitchen staples: sugar, milk and cocoa powder.

How Did it Taste?
Pretty darn good. I wasn’t sure about the idea of chocolate for breakfast, but the ingredients work together really well
. The cocoa powder gives the oatmeal a dark chocolate flavour, but without any bitterness. And don’t worry about it being too sweet — I actually added some honey to mine. I wouldn’t be making this recipe every day, but it would be a lovely treat on the weekend with a big mug of fresh coffee.

Let’s Do the Math
This is very easy to make. You just whisk together the non-oatmeal ingredients, put everything together in a pan and turn on the heat. Poof! In about ten minutes, your breakfast is ready. And a cheap breakfast it is, weighing in at just 61 cents per serving.

Frugal Food Tip
This is a little story called “How I Fell In Love With Citrus Zest*”.

Last week, I cooked with citrus zest three times. I used orange zest twice as I test-drove the Baklava Oatmeal recipe, and lemon zest once making Creamy Zucchini Fettuccine (which you’ll find in the Dinner section of “Good and Cheap”: page 86 of the print version and page 89 of the PDF).

In the past, I’ve used zest in the odd recipe, but always considered it to be a fussy, pretentious add-on. However, my “Good and Cheap” cooking adventures have caused me to look at zest in a whole different light.

Lemon zest added a wonderful flavour to the savoury fettuccine dish, making it taste quite sophisticated (if that makes any sense). And the orange zest punched the Baklava Oatmeal into another class of breakfast food altogether.

Then it dawned on me that it’s essentially free! I mean, the oranges I zested last week are still completely intact, and wound up as part of my lunch this week. It’s like getting two uses out of the same piece of fruit. Now I want to see if I can find a way to sneak some lime and grapefruit zest into my meals. (If you have any suggestions, by all means, send me a note at librarylifehack [at] gmail.com.)

*Just in case this is an unfamiliar term, zest is the thin colored layer of peel on citrus fruits.

And that’s all for today. Tune in near the end of the week for Breakfast Quinoa!

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Baklava Oatmeal

Newsflash!
In early February, I did an interview with Isabelle Gallant of CBC, talking about this project. I’m happy to say that it aired on Monday of last week, and you can have a listen here. (I start at the 9:02 mark.)
Baklava Oatmeal

Baklava Oatmeal
Bringing the humble oat to a whole new plane of existence

So here we are, at Recipe #6 in the Oatmeal Chronicles. You can find this one on page 30 of the PDF version of “Good and Cheap” (a free download at leannebrown.com) or on page 10 of the print version.

Ingredient Notes
This time, I decided to step out a little and use regular rolled oats instead of quick oats. I also bought crushed walnuts because they were on sale in the bulk section at Save-On Foods — and considerably cheaper than the almonds that the recipe calls for. (My logic was that every baklava I’d ever eaten included walnuts, so I didn’t think I was committing a culinary faux pas.)

How Did it Taste?
Wow. This one is amazing. If you were looking for an oatmeal recipe to serve to weekend house guests (or anyone else you wanted to impress with your mad breakfast cooking skills), Baklava Oatmeal is your go-to. I loved the blend of the flavours, and the large flake rolled oats are much chewier (and truthfully, less gluey) than quick oats. I still like Coconut and Lime Oatmeal for its simplicity, but Baklava is my new favourite. This is oatmeal on a whole different plane of existence.

I have to say that I will probably not be going back to quick oats, now that I’ve experienced large flake. Isabelle Gallant (who is also the voice of The Little Red Kitchen blog) suggested that I try out a 50/50 blend of large flake and steel-cut as well. Isn’t cooking fun? Always something new to experiment with.

Show Me the Money
Zesting an  orange means that there’s a little more work involved in this recipe, and it took about 8 minutes to cook the large flake oats (as opposed to 2 minutes for quick oats). Start to finish, the prep and cooking time was 22 minutes, and the total cost per serving was 88 cents. A bargain for very classy breakfast!

Food Shopping Tip
It’s nothing new, but I’m going to talk about one of the commandments of frugalistas everywhere: Thou Shalt Always Check the Bill.

Last Sunday night, I bought groceries for the coming week. I was a little surprised at the total, but reminded myself that we’re still living in The Time of Really Expensive Produce in my hometown of Edmonton.

When I got home, however, I decided take a closer look and found a $10.95 charge for half a kilo of bulk trail mix. Since I hadn’t bought any trail mix, I knew something was wrong. I checked through item by item and discovered that the half kilo of apples I’d bought were nowhere on the receipt.

In short, I’d just paid $10.95 for three apples.

Now, obviously this was a keying error. It was a simple matter to go back to the grocery store with the apples, show them what had happened, and get a refund. But it does reinforce the idea that it’s not a bad practice to check your receipts if something seems a little off.

And that’s all for today! Next week will bring us the last of the oatmeal recipes and then we’ll move on to some exciting territory that includes muffins, pancakes and grapefruits. Have a great weekend!
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Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Happy Monday! After a short detour, today’s post brings us back to the wonderful world of oatmeal, with No. 5 in a seven-part set of recipe reviews.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal, artfully arranged

As I mentioned above, the breakfast chapter of “Good and Cheap” has seven different oatmeal recipes. You can find this particular one on page 31 of the PDF version (a free download at leannebrown.com) or on page 10 of the print version.

Ingredient Notes
The ingredients were about as basic as you can get. (I was lucky enough to find the apple juice on sale for 99 cents.) I chose not to cook the apple slices and sprinkled a little brown sugar on top of the finished product.

How Did it Taste?
Very good! I was expecting the apple juice to make the oatmeal cloyingly sweet, but it actually had a nice little tang to it, and the slices are a good healthy addition. This is now my second favourite recipe in the oatmeal series. (I still like Coconut and Lime the best.)

Let’s Do the Math
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal was quick and easy to cook, taking about 10 minutes altogether. And the total cost of ingredients came to just 89 cents per serving.

Green Onions

I call this photo “Onions at Sunrise”
(This is what they looked like after about two week’s growing time)

Frugal Food Tip
This tip has nothing whatsoever to do with oatmeal, but I thought it was worth telling you about just the same. Thanks to a very clever co-worker, I’ve learned that it’s possible to re-grow green onions. Even in the middle of winter!

Step One involves cutting off all of the green part and some of the white part (and presumably eating it). Next, put the remainder of the white part in a glass of water and put the glass in a windowsill. Change the water daily, and new shoots will start appearing within a couple of days.

I must admit that I was skeptical about this actually working in February, especially in my chilly kitchen window. But my little onions are on their third sprouting and growing enthusiastically. Now, is that cool or what?

That’s all for today! Check back soon for the sixth installment in the oatmeal chronicles and have a great week!
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