I volunteer at The Nashville Food Project, a non-profit in Nashville whose mission is to bring people together to grow, cook, and share nourishing food with the goal of cultivating community and alleviating hunger in our city.
Occasionally, friends, restaurants, and neighborhood, school, and church groups call me after a function to ask if TNFP could use their surplus food or a glut of vegetables from home gardens. Think ZUCCHINI!
Just before Christmas, a few friends emailed to ask if TNFP would like a box of their homemade, unopened jars of fruit preserves and relishes. TNFP’s Donations Coordinator, Booth Jewett, was happy to accept their donations. If you or your organization ever wonder what to do with excess food, email Booth at email@example.com. He will let you know if TNFP can accept the food and will help make drop-off arrangements at our Green Hills kitchens.
Today, I received this email from TNFP: “We are excited to have had a whole steer donated at the end of last year which resulted in over 300 lbs of beef! All of this week’s meals are a result of that generosity. We’re also excited to be picking up 800 lbs of locally made cheese from Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese next week! What an incredible donation!” Indeed. In this way, TNFP reclaims thousands of pounds of delicious, nutritious food every year.
These recent emails about what to do with preserves got me thinking about my own abundance of homemade preserves: Roasted Strawberries with Rosemary, Crabapple with Rosemary Jelly, and Campanella Grape Jelly and the jars of jelly given to us as gifts by friends and clients (which we adore receiving!). I had an idea.
Almost every morning I make oatmeal for breakfast, especially now in the winter when egg production has gone down. In the summer, I add fresh fruit and walnuts to my oatmeal, and in the fall I add sliced apples or pears with a little honey. What if I started stirring in a teaspoonful of homemade fruit preserves during the winter months?
I gave it a try with Lil’s Blackberry Jam gifted to us by jack-of-all-trades and master of all, nurse practitioner, Heather O’Dell. The oatmeal was delicious! Add to that a few chopped walnuts, and it was like eating an ice cream sundae only much more nutritious.
(The photo above is fake news. I do not set the table for breakfast every morning. Ask Kelly.)
Ingredients (2-3 servings):
2 cups of boiling hot water
dash of salt
1 cup THICK rolled oats
Bring water and salt to a boil.
Add oats. When water returns to a boil, reduce heat to low.
Simmer for 5-7 minutes until water is absorbed by oats.
A few months ago, I discovered thick rolled oats. I now can’t go back to the regular “five minute” old-fashioned oats; they seem mushy by comparison. I buy the oats in one of the bulk bins at Whole Foods. It’s one of my favorite new foods.
They are special because of their extra chewy texture and nutty flavor. Bonus: oats are good for you; they are full of protein (7 grams from a ½ cup dry serving), fiber (4 grams), vitamins, and minerals.
Oats processed for oatmeal start out as oat groats. Groats are the hulled kernels of cereal grains. From there they are processed into either steel-cut, rolled, or quick or instant oats. All oats are nutritionally equivalent except for the bags of individual serving instant oats which generally have lots of added sugar and sodium.
Steel-Cut Oats: oat groats that have been cut into two or three pieces. They are very hard and take about 25-35 minutes to cook. They remind me of brown rice in texture and cooking times. I don’t buy the steel-cut oats very often, but when I do, I cook them in a rice cooker. For instructions, check out this post: Ode to a Rice Cooker
Rolled Oats (aka old-fashioned oats): whole groats that have been rolled flat. They take about 5-7 minutes to cook depending on how thickly they are rolled. Often they are steamed in the processing plant to soften the groat before rolling. Some varieties are lightly toasted.
Quick or Instant Oats: these oats are often pre-cooked rolled oats that have been dried and then chopped into smaller pieces for faster cooking.
There is a nice website with photos of each of the different styles of processed oats on The Whole Grains Council website.
Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe or pattern.
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