Cooking Club Fail/Win

I’ve been trying to do a cooking club for a long time. In cooking club version 1 there were eight of us, but we never succeeded in having all eight there at once. If I were to do all my posts in the right order, the story of version 1 would come first. But that’s not going to happen. Next week the survivors are starting on version 3 of the cooking club, so there isn’t time to tell the whole backstory now. (I don’t mean survivors literally– we didn’t actually have casualties! Just other things happened.)

Instead, here’s a recap of our final version 2 cooking club meeting. It was held in April 2012, shortly after Easter. By this time it was pretty obvious that cooking club version 2 was dying of neglect. There had somehow been a long break since the last meeting, and this was our attempt to revive it. The main problem we had with version two was the mix of people involved. Of the six members, three were enthusiastic health foodies, two were just there for the socializing, and one had been dragged in by another member, and sometimes looked bewildered by it all. Maybe if we had at least given it a name? “Version 2” shows a pretty minimal effort right there, doesn’t it?

Anyway, there were four of us at the April meeting, and we were to each do a breakfast recipe. We actually prepared most of our food at home and brought copies of the recipe to share, so really we were no longer even a cooking club, more like a “show and tell” club. One of the socializers had “run out of time” the day before, so she had changed her recipe at the last minute and brought fruit salad. I can’t even remember what the second socializer brought. Clearly breakfast was a bad choice of meals to rekindle any of the lost enthusiasm (also, it was a bit early in the day to add in any liquid enthusiasm). The other member brought a tofu scramble and veggie fry-up and I brought a vegan refrigerator oatmeal made with homemade soygurt.

As with every meeting, we did have tons of laughs and enjoyed each others’ company as we broke bread, but it was pretty obvious that cooking club version 2 had run its course.

All prepped at home to take and garnish at the breakfast meeting.

Version 3 already looks completely different to both of its predecessors, and I will be excited to start posting about it soon after our first meeting. (One teaser- we are all vegans or “flegans“, and we all love healthy food that would hopefully make a carnivore come back for seconds.) I will also be posting backstories, and a few recipes from version 1 and 2, along with tips and ideas for setting up your own cooking club. For today, I will start with my version of refrigerator oatmeal.

Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal

This oatmeal solves the problem of summer heat, since it is eaten cold and no cooking is required. It is also a perfect way to use the summer fruit harvest. Whip it up the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight. Most versions I have seen call for milk and yogurt. I veganize it by using soy/almond/rice milk and soygurt. You can make a big batch to last for up to two days, or do it in individual one serving containers for an easy grab-and-go breakfast straight from the fridge. Also great to serve on a breakfast or brunch buffet. High in protein, calcium & fiber; low in fat & sugar.

Flavour it with sweet or savoury additions. Most other posts I have seen stick to sweet varieties, which seems to me to be an American style breakfast, but not all cultures eat their oatmeal sweetened, and I usually prefer savoury breakfasts, so I will offer some savoury suggestions later in the post. The sweet combinations listed below were inspired by Monica’s delicious combinations at The Yummy Life. By “inspired” I mean a few were copied exactly- why mess with a good thing? Others were tweaked, as you will see.

All start with the same basic ingredients and procedure:

Step 1. Assemble these ingredients:
-oats (old fashioned rolled work best, but I’ve used others- you do get a different texture)
-soygurt, or almond/rice/coconut yogurt, or Greek yogurt for non-vegans
-soymilk, almond milk, etc, or regular animal milk
*these ingredients are all in close to 1:1 ratio. A little extra milk helps soften the oats faster.
-optional- textural or nutritional additions as desired (chia seeds, flax, hemp, salba, etc)

Step 2. Combine oats, milk, yogurt, and any additions in one large container, (or individual containers for take and go breakfasts), along with desired flavors or sweeteners (see recipe options below). Add chopped fruit and stir.

Step 3. Refrigerate overnight. Serve within a day or two.

Here are the flavour varieties that I took to the breakfast:

Banana Cocoa Refrigerator Oatmeal:
1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned oats
1/3 cup soymilk
1/4 cup soygurt
1-1/2 teaspoons chia, flax, salba
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/4 cup diced ripe banana
chocolate chips and banana slices for garnish

Mixed Berry Vanilla Refrigerator Oatmeal
1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned oats
1/3 cup soymilk
1/4 cup soygurt
1-1/2 teaspoons chia, flax, salba
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon blackberry jam
1/4 cup chopped strawberries
strawberries and blackberries for garnish

Blueberry Walnut Maple Refrigerator Oatmeal
1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned oats
1/3 cup soymilk
1/4 cup soygurt
1-1/2 teaspoons seeds and chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/4 cup blueberries
blueberries and walnuts for garnish

Apple Raisin Cinnamon Refrigerator Oatmeal
1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned oats
1/3 cup soymilk
1/4 cup soygurt
1-1/2 teaspoons seeds, golden raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
chopped apple and golden raisins for garnish

Mango Almond Refrigerator Oatmeal
1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned oats
1/3 cup soymilk
1/4 cup soygurt
1-1/2 teaspoons chia, flax, salba
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon agave nectar.
1/4 cup diced mango (approx. half of a small mango)
mango and almonds for garnish

And, finally, you will remember that this was shortly after Easter, so I just had to do it:
Coconut Cream Egg Refrigerator Oatmeal
1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned oats
1/3 cup soymilk
1/4 cup soygurt
1-1/2 teaspoons seeds/additions
1 tablespoon dried coconut
1 chopped Easter cream egg
coconut and mini eggs to garnish

If you are not such a sweet tooth in the morning, don’t forget about the savoury options. I like these just as much:

Savoury Refrigerator Oatmeal Additions (add in cooked or raw for interesting flavor combinations)
Using (soy)milk and (soy)yogurt as the liquids, you could try:
-feta and chopped spinach
-chopped green onion and mushroom, with a bit of grated Daiya cheese
-grapes, walnuts and gorgonzola

Using other liquids (for instance, water or vegetable broth with a bit of olive or flax oil), try:
-avocado and zucchini with mushrooms
-basil pesto and pine nuts
-curry powder and cooked onions
-tomatoes, onion, black olives, cucumber and feta (OK- it`s a Greek salad)

For a true Asian congee taste, use oyster sauce, mushroom broth, and sesame oil as liquids, and add:
-green onion, dried mushrooms, and tofu
-shredded chicken breast or tofu chicken, mushrooms, pickled bamboo shoots.
-ginger, green onion and shredded turkey or tofurkey.

I hope you have fun with this and perhaps discover a whole new taste experience.
Any suggestions for names for our next cooking club?

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