I was five years old when I performed my first cooking demonstration. It was back in New York at the old Clockville courthouse, which doubled as our voting hall. I practiced for weeks under the tutelage of my parents ("don't say 'you,'" "make eye contact," "smile") until it was flawless, by 5 year old standards anyway.
The big day finally came. When my name was called, I got up, stuck out my chin and did was I was trained to do. I placed my recipe poster on the stand, taped a tiny paper receptacle to the table, methodically organized my ingredients and launched into my presentation. I spoke of my family in Switzerland and how we just loved eating Muesli for breakfast. Time whizzed by and before I knew it, it was over. I thought it went swimmingly. Pleased as punch, I glided into my rehearsed closing, "Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes my demonstration. Are there any questions?" A hand shot up. It belonged to my Dad. "Uh, yes. Now what do you do with the oatmeal," he asked? My professionalism went out the window as I dramatically slapped my head and yelled, "Oh no!" Apparently I forgot to add the main ingredient.
Don't worry, it didn't scar me for life. I received a blue ribbon that night and was determined to do it better next year when I was six.
As far as breakfasts go, I'm not a huge fan of mainstream fare and tend to prefer savory things like soup, sprouted grain toast with avocado and salt or last night's leftovers. Then a few months ago I wrote an article all about the benefits of soaking grains, which naturally conjured up images of my beloved Swiss muesli. I've been on a serious kick ever since.
Bircher Muesli is most often prepared with shredded apple but feel free to use whichever fruit is in season.
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/3+ cup milk
Splash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sliced strawberries (or 1/2 a grated apple)
3/4 cup plain kefir or plain yogurt
1 tablespoon moist date pieces (or dried fruit of choice)
Chopped nuts (I like roasted pecans or crushed hazelnuts)
Place rolled oats in a small bowl. Add milk to cover and a splash of lemon juice. Refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, add sliced strawberries, kefir/yogurt and dried fruit. Mix well and sprinkle with nuts.