Sunday, April 28, 2013

Just-Right Microwave Porridge for the Up-To-Date Bear

This Matt-derived oatmeal is warming, filling, a delicious fruit delivery system, an excellent source of fiber (without being at all obnoxious about it), and quick and easy enough to make every day. Okay, it may seem like a bit of fuss the first few times you make it, but it's easy to get into a rhythm if you make it every day, and you can have breakfast on the table within 15 minutes.

The recipe makes 2 full breakfasts for adults to whom breakfast is important. It can stretch to 3-4 if some of the persons are smaller or less peckish, or as part of a larger meal. 

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Mix dry ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl:
  • 1/3 cup thick-cut rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup oat bran
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk (amount may vary by brand - use the equivalent of 1 1/2 cup fresh milk)
  • dash salt
  • 1 heaping Tbs almond meal (pecan and hazelnut meal are also good, but you will need to use more in order to taste them much)
Add water and stir thoroughly to combine:
  • 1 cup water
Gently stir in:
  • 6-7 oz small chunks of fresh or frozen fruit, such as plum, apple, kiwi, or blackberry (we haven't tried it, but I expect mango would be excellent); or a smaller weight of dried fruit
  • pears, blueberries or other delicate fruits are also tasty options, but should be added later as directed
Add one or more secret warming ingredients:
  • 2 tsp - 2 Tbs booze, such as rum, brandy, vermouth, or a liqueur flavored with almond, hazelnut, pecan, coffee, orange, or apple
  • 1/2 tsp plum brandy--we use moonshine tuica from Romania (you really do NOT need more than 1/2 tsp) and it makes plums taste at least twice as plummy
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla (especially good with pear) 
  • some citrus juice and zest 
  • a little candied ginger, diced tiny
  1. Microwave, uncovered, at 50% power (or 60% for frozen fruit) for 5 minutes (your microwave may vary--ours is 1100W).
  2. Stir, breaking up any clumps of porridge.
  3. Add pears or blueberries, if using.
  4. Microwave at same power for another 2 minutes.
  5. Let rest in microwave for 4 minutes.
Stir in:
  • another 1/3 cup thick-cut rolled oats
  • 1 Tbs flax seed meal
  • 1/3-2/3 cup hot tap water, until desired consistency is reached
Serve immediately in warmed bowls, garnishing with brown sugar, cinnamon sugar, toasted nuts, or freshly ground nutmeg, as desired.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Little Machine Learning is a Dangerous Thing

On a recent business trip to San Francisco, I was fortunate to have an afternoon off on a beautiful day that just happened to be the day the San Francisco Exploratorium re-opened in their new digs on Pier 15.  I am aggrieved with the world for not having told me about the Exploratorium before, and grateful to the Evil Mad Scientists for hipping me to it now.  I could happily spend an entire vacation there, except that I'd have to take a day off every couple of days for a nice lie-down, or I'd be a sensorily overloaded hyperstimulated basket case train wreck.

On my inaugural visit, I had this conversation with Daisy the computer (click the image for a larger view).  She is learning to think by written conversation with visitors.  Visitors are given the nom de keyboard of Victor -- no idea why.

I let Daisy have the last word. It was a wee bit ironic to be arguing with a computer just after emerging from a beautiful and heartbreaking exhibit entitled "The Changing Face of What Is Normal: Mental Health."