Caramelized Banana Walnut Oatmeal

This morning my mom had an appointment to get her car serviced just down the street, so I invited her over for a little breakfast.  It was a great opportunity to hang out and catch up!  On the menu: Carmelized Banana Walnut Oatmeal and tea (naturally).

With just a few basic ingredients, a bowl of oatmeal can become a healthy, tasty treat!

Below is a basic recipe to get you going the first time.  It’s pretty straightforward so feel free just to eyeball it – exact measurements are certainly not needed.  Variation: Diced apples are also a great substitution for the bananas.

Caramelized Banana Walnut Oatmeal

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup water
3/4 cup organic milk, plus extra for serving

2 tbsp organic butter, or Earth Balance
2 small bananas, sliced
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted

1.  Combine the oats, water and milk in a medium saucepan and set over medium-low heat.  Cook oatmeal, stirring occasionally, until fully cooked, about 7-9 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, heat butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat until melted.  Add slice bananas and sauté until bananas begin to soften, about 2 minutes.  Add honey, cinnamon and nutmeg and continue to cooking until bananas are cooked through and begin to caramelize.  Remove from heat.

3.  Divide oatmeal between two bowls, top with caramelized bananas and toasted walnuts.  Serve with extra milk, if desired.

Serves 2.

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Chicken, Barley & Vegetable Soup

It’s February in California.  While there are record-breaking snow storms all over the country, I can’t help but feel a little bit guilty as I venture out in a tee-shirt to the local farmers market in search of tonight’s dinner.  I feel so fortunate to live here because even at this time of year, when most farmers markets across the country are so limited in offerings, I can still buy delicious organic tomatoes (yes, tomatoes!) from my local farmers.  (I’m truly impressed with their farming skills as my tomato plants died out around November.)

Tonight we’re having guests.  And not just any guests.  Our friends, Matt & Chelsea, are coming over for a night of catching up and board games.  This dynamic duo holds a special place in our hearts because, not only are they so dang fun to hang around, but they’re also the reason Chris and I decided to take the plunge into wedding photography full-time.  After shooting their beautiful wedding back in 2009, it cinched the deal for us that weddings were something we really wanted to pursue and we haven’t looked back since.  Love you guys.

Since I waddled home from the farmers market overloaded with bags of yummy veggies, I decided to throw it all together into a soup that I could serve with some hot, crusty bread and butter.  And so it went.  Sauteed onions, chicken stock, barley, navy beans, tomatoes, carrots, celery, parsley, cilantro, and roasted chicken.  And a dollop of sour cream never hurt anyone either… optional, of course.

It turned out to be a wonderful evening, as always, not to mention a fierce Outburst battle.  🙂  I really need to start working on my 80’s action flick trivia.  But that’s for another day.

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A Warm Cup of Chai Tea

I am so in love with tea.  I don’t know where this comes from.  I have this fantasy that every time I have a cup, I become a bit more English.  Just a touch more milk, a drizzle of honey, and I’m convinced an accent will start to form.  My grammar will get better.  I’ll miraculously procure a wealth of knowledge about all the significant works of world literature.  But it never comes.  Leo Tolstoy’s War And Peace never gets any easier.  But I’m still holding out hope…

So no one’s feelings get hurt, let me just say, that I love everyone equally in my tea collection.  But, I certainly have a soft spot for chai spice tea – a combination of black tea and varied whole or ground spices.  A few years ago, I stumbled across a recipe for an Indian Masala Chai tea that is truly wonderful.  The great thing about teas like this is that once you have a solid base, you can let your own creativity flow and come up with new and unique spice combinations.  Below is the original recipe from which I have made countless variations (although the original is quite phenomenal itself.)

The Ultimate Masala Tea

Recipe Source: Indian Food Made Easy, by Anjum Anand

1 1/2 cups water
scant 1/2 cup milk
4 black peppercorns
10 green cardamom pods
hefty pinch of fennel seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1″ piece fresh ginger, sliced
1 tbsp loose black tea leaves, or 1 tea bag
sugar or honey, to taste
tiny pinch of salt, optional

1.  Combine water, milk, spices and ginger in a small pot.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, making sure it doesn’t boil over.

2.  Add loose tea leaves, or tea bag, to pot and let steep for about 1 minute; longer if you prefer stronger tea.  Strain mixture into your cup.  Add sugar or honey to taste along with a tiny pinch of salt, if using.

Now, enjoy!

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Hello and welcome to Summer In The Garden!  I started this blog as a way to share my love of food and all the wonderful experiences it brings.  Not only will you find lots of yummy recipes here, but I also hope to take you along with me as I strive to learn more about sustainable agriculture by doing features on local farmers and other interesting projects.

I’m so happy to have you here and I hope you enjoy the adventure…

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