A short list of things you cannot buy:
A resume that will never land in the reject pile
A week full of Saturdays
A mind-reading boyfriend
A genetically gifted propensity for six-pack abs
A blueprint to survival
A shoulder to lean on
A recipe for success
A cute resting face
A life that feels as good on the inside as it looks from the outside
A sense of humor and a measure of grace
A clean bill of health
A heart that can’t be broken
A friend who will help you feel good about reaching no conclusion whatsoever
A passion for long distance running
A cook’s confidence
A comfortable silence
A sense of accomplishment
A contagious laugh
A book that never ends
A way to speed up traffic jams [and slow down birthday parties]
A short list of things you CAN buy [mostly in the baking aisle]:
Crystallized Australian ginger in rich Belgian dark chocolate
Ginger crème-filled cookie sandwiches
This is a put-it-in-perspective post. I’m lucky enough to have a handful of the things-you-cannot-buy, and a pantry full of all of the-things-you-can-buy [according to this list, anyway].
Truthfully, I had my heart set on little diamonds of crystallized ginger for garnishing too, but the jaw-dropping [$12.99 per 4-oz glass jar] price tag made me change my mind. Maybe on the next rainy day I’ll make my own, but for now, those candy like chews belong on the long-list-of-things-I-can’t-justify-buying.
This exercise in self-restraint turned out to be a good thing, because soon after I spotted something infinitely better: crystallized ginger disguised in a dark chocolate bar. And just a few steps away, I spied one of the few brands of cookies I think are worth buying: Newman’s Own Organics Ginger-O’s [ginger-crème filled sandwich cookies]. Have you had them? They don’t really give Oreos a run for their money, but they have an ingredient list that doesn’t make me sigh and set the box back on the shelf. I love ginger [and crunchy cookies with a melt-in-your-mouth middle], and I think that old man Newman really nailed the ratio of sweetness to spice.
After surveying the contents of my cart [which by now also included milk, bananas, oats, and cinnamon], all I could think about was a row of little ramekins brimming with chocolate-ginger crème baked oats.
Maybe happiness is not such a process after all. Maybe happiness is pounding cookies into crumbs, and scooping up half of them to funnel them directly into your mouth. The other half should be mixed into your oats and milk, along with a heaping spoonful of Stevia and a heavy sprinkling of cinnamon.
Maybe happiness is placing a halo of sliced bananas around a heart-stamped chocolate square.
And maybe most definitely, happiness is finding little hidden pockets of melted chocolate in your oatmeal.
A note on taste: The ginger flavor won’t knock your socks off here. About half of your bites [if you don’t douse them in vanilla protein powder icing – which, hey, is a brilliant idea] will taste just like lightly sweetened oats [thanks to the banana, the Stevia, the cinnamon, and the milk]. I usually can’t get enough of that creamy combination alone, but I admit I was actively searching for those dammed rivers of chocolate. It’s in the chocolaty bites that you’ll get the late-blooming bursts of crystallized ginger. The only thing I’d change next time is to substitute pumpkin pie spice for cinnamon [in an attempt to amp up the spiciness and tone down the sweetness].
Recipe [Serves 1]:
For the Oatmeal:
50 g 100% whole-wheat quick-cooking oats, ground into a flour
2 Newman’s Own Organics Ginger-O’s, smashed to smithereens
15g [or 1 single row] Chocolove Dark Chocolate Bar with Crystallized Ginger
½ cup of 1% low-fat milk [or less, depending on how dry you like your oats]
½ banana [the 7-8 inch variety, not the monsters], sliced
Cinnamon to taste
For the Frosting:
20g vanilla protein powder
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place cookies in a plastic bag; crush [reserve some for garnishing, if desired].
In a small bowl, mix together the dry ingredients [ground oats, crushed cookies, Stevia, and cinnamon].
Stir in the milk until the “batter” is fully incorporated.
Pour ½ the mixture into a small ramekin [no need to grease the dish].
Add layers of banana slices until gone, and place three chocolate squares on top.
Pour remaining ½ of batter mixture into the dish.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until desired doneness [I like mine to have a toasty domed top and a slightly under baked center].
While the “cake” is baking, prepare the “frosting” by stirring together the protein powder and water in another small bowl.
Remove the ramekin from the oven; allow to cool briefly.
Drizzle prepared frosting [liberally].
Top with cookie crumbs, if desired, and serve immediately.
Other Suggestions for Boring Old Oats: