Some things are so simple. Oatmeal for one... how hard is it to boil water, add oats and serve with milk? This quintessential belly filling, body warming, bowl of goodness seems to be cooking at it's easiest. But, it's a little lifeless, and well... boring.
Growing up my dad had oatmeal topped with honey almost every day, and I always turned my nose up and poured myself a bowl of cold cereal. When I got married, my husband also preferred oatmeal in the morning and I thought I'd give it another try. Good, but like I said earlier, boring. Raisins on top helped, but sugar made it too sweet and I went back to my cold cereal box.
However... last February my husband took me on a 14 day cruise to the South Pacific (oh how I love the Tropics!) on a small cruise ship called the Paul Gauguin (Cruise Critic Review here!). Each morning our server, Joey, would save my seat and bring me a bowl of oatmeal topped with golden raisins, walnuts and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Wow! What a difference these simple ingredients made! I found myself actually craving that warm bowl even while basking in the humidity of Raiatea or Bora Bora.
Yesterday while perusing one of my favorite books by Ellie Krieger, So Easy, I stumbled upon her recipe for Vanilla Spice Oatmeal. With the sun shining bright this morning I mixed together the simple additions, including my prized Tahitian Vanilla Extract from our vacation, and sat down to a wonderful, tasty and "unboring" breakfast! Closing my eyes I could almost feel the trade winds blowing the sweet, floral scent of vanilla through my kitchen. Thank you, Ellie, for spicing up my life!
Vanilla Spice Oatmeal
3½ cups water
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
½ cup raisins
¼ tsp salt
¼+ tsp vanilla extract
pinch of ground nutmeg
walnuts or pecans
Combine the water, oats, raisins and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring a few times, until the oats are tender, about 5 minutes.
Remove pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and nutmeg. Swirl in the brown sugar and place the oatmeal in serving bowls. Pour desired amount of milk and sprinkle with nuts and cinnamon.
Note: a dollop of Pear Brandy Butter would be a wonderful addition!