In college, the pinnacle of my culinary creativity involved mixing various cereals together to create a special blend that I ate in place of, or as a supplement to, many dining hall meals. Quaker’s Life and some sort of granola with severely dried raisins usually filled most of my bowl, but on special occasions the dining hall staff would, to the delight of many, mix things up with the addition of Kashi or Puffins. It was an exciting time.
Although I now live less than three miles from my former cereal mecca, my culinary endeavors have expanded to new horizons – horizons that include turning on the stove, using a chef’s knife, and treating my refrigerator and freezer like stationary pack mules. Old habits die hard, but with a twist: while you won’t find a box of Life cereal in our house, a jar of homemade granola has a permanent residence nestled behind the fruit bowl on our kitchen counter.
Last weekend, many hands and spoons were dipped into the granola jar as I had a couple college friends staying with us for our five year reunion. While we spent most of our time tailgating, catching up with former classmates, and brunching, I managed to fit in a few home-cooked meals for the gang. One dinner turned into a cooking lesson with a dear friend who, now in graduate school across the country, has taken an interest in learning to cook.
Over her last couple visits, I’ve taught her a few basic dishes, including vinegar-braised chicken and Thai curry. On Sunday, I showed her how to make a streamlined and admittedly non-traditional beef Bolognese with roasted spaghetti squash. It’s a basic version of the type of hearty fare that seems right for the season, especially for people who live in regions with distinct seasons. I am not one of those people, but I find myself craving lots of warming, meat-based meals this time of year.
As she packed up Monday morning, I tucked a couple homemade blueberry muffins into her bag for the long flight back home. I took her to the airport, and came home to an eerily quiet house. I heated up the leftover Bolognese and ate it for breakfast. Special cereal it was not, but I couldn’t help mixing it up by topping my bowl with a few shavings of hard goat cheese and a handful of Marcona almonds. Old habits die hard.