I'm extremely fond of breakfast but summertime presents its own challenges. As an inveterate oatmeal eater during those grey times of the year, once the berries come in, I'm longing to give in and feast, but somehow, slathering them over a piping hot bowl of porridge just doesn't cut it. I was wrestling with that dilemma recently when I recalled my much ballyhooed summer of 1975. I was young, I was impetuous and I was driving my parent's completely bonkers in every way imaginable.
I was also, to their despair, living in a squat in London's Belgravia. Think "Upstairs,Downstairs" generally and Eaton Square more specifically. With a gang of boarding school pals, I was inhabiting the glamorous, though vacant home of Bernie Cornfelt, ne'er-do-well financier and sometime boyfriend of Victoria Principal. Ole' Bernie had conveniently gone on the lam, leaving us to live it up in his digs. That is, until we were supplanted later that fall, by a band of Hell's Angels who were altogether bigger and badder than we were, even in our wildest dreams. Alas, that, is, as they say, another story.
The thing is, during that wild summer of 1975, we had no electricity. Nor hot water, for that matter, which necessitated lots of visits to the Chelsea baths, just down the King's Road, though that is another story too. It was hilarious, to say the least, that while we were being written up in the London press as, "Gentlemen Squatters" we were both hungry and dirty. A fact brought home to my father who was visiting from Richmond, when I paid him a call at the posh Berkeley Hotel round the corner. The front desk rang upstairs saying, "Dr. Osdene, there is a young woman here who purports to be your daughter. What shall we do with her?" Sadly, he didn't find it quite as amusing as did I.
Cooking that summer was a great challenge, but one of our number found a "squatter's co-op" which was custom-made for people in our, shall I say, situation. The great coup there was our successful provisioning of an enormous, and I mean, enormous sack of rolled oats which became our standard fare that summer. How we survived without scurvy, I do not know.
Fast forward to my recent disenchantment with my regular oatmeal. Somehow I remembered those raw oat days, and realized I could probably do a bit better than that, even without setting foot outside my kitchen. Sure enough all sorts of embellishments came immediately to hand and I created what I've now dubbed my muesli.
It's completely easy and particularly delicious when teamed with any of the fruits you're finding in the farmer's market at the moment. I know it's recommended to soak muesli overnight, however, I tried soaking it, but found that I like to just pop it in the bowl, add the fruit, slosh milk over it and gobble it down. Or maybe it was just that I was magically transported to London in 1975.
Perhaps that won't happen to you, but it's so easy--not even a proper recipe really--why not give it a try as a cold cereal alternative. And, if you, dear reader, are a young person, please don't drive your parent's bonkers this summer. Just eat the muesli and comfort yourself that a young woman in 1975 did just that, so you don't have to.
makes 18 servings
9 cups extra thick rolled oats
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
3/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup wheat bran
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
fresh fruit and milk to serve
Combine all of the ingredients and store in an air-tight container. To serve, place about 1/2 cup in a bowl, cover with fruit and pour on milk to cover. Serve immediately.