All Spices Are Not Created Equal

ImageSometimes the oat gets a bad rep. Despite it’s ass-kicking health properties, its only claim to pop-culture fame is the scene in which gaunt little Oliver Twist asks for “more” of the bland porridge being served at the orphanage. Not a great moment for oats.

Thankfully, we’re not living in 19th century England where a peppercorn was the height of culinary sophistication. We have cinnamon! And this morning I realized why ours seemed broken. It really wasn’t working. Thankfully, I got some cinnamon from a spice shop for Christmas and thought I’d give it a try. I’m so glad I did! Where before you could add a tablespoon and taste very little, this kind required 1/4 teaspoon and that was almost too much. Good quality, fresh spices make all the difference.

Here’s a picture of the four kinds of cinnamon we have at my house. They all smelled very distinct and lent a unique flavor. A is from the giant vat of cinnamon we got from Kroger. The reason it tastes so bland is namely from it’s age. Who could really use a half gallon of cinnamon before the essential oils dry out?? Pretty sure we’ve had it for a minimum of three years… B is “China Cinnamon” and smelled the most like standard cinnamon. C is “Ceylon Cinnamon” and smelled incredibly bright and sweet, almost like citrus. Finally, D is “Roasted Saigon Cinnamon.” I was totally taken aback by it’s depth and pungency. Earthy and spicy, I can’t wait to use this as a spice rub on…dare I say, meat?

Both the China and Ceylon cinnamon would have been good in the Oatmeal but I used the China one. The recipe is below.

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • Scant 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix the oats, cider and milk in a small pot and let it thicken to your preference. Add the syrup and cinnamon. You can also chop up some apple into small, bite size pieces and add them to the oats before cooking. They’ll become softer once it’s finished.

For this recipe it’s important to use real maple syrup. The depth of flavor really carries throughout the oatmeal where maple flavoring wouldn’t. I use Grade B because it’s less processed, but some people find Grade A flavor more pleasant. If you’re on a low-calorie diet, a teaspoon would do the trick too.


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