Chai-Spiced Pear Oats



Several years ago, I stayed with a few girlfriends at a B&B run by Agnes, who lives on a farm off the western edge of Ireland. From the moment we arrived we were fed quite well, including dinner, which was fresh caught from the ocean by her son. We had a proper Irish breakfast the next morning with the traditional white and black puddings, fried tomato and egg, thick slabs of brown bread, muesli, yogurt, and then pots of tea. After I was stuffed as could be, I slipped into the kitchen to ask Agnes a question. She was just tidying up and there, sitting at a tiny table away from the guests, was her farmer husband in his wool socks, tucking into a homely and simple bowl of porridge.


I immediately wished I could take all of my breakfast back, forget my friends, and sit at the table with him eating homely oats and chatting about the first frost date, how much rain we’ve received, the work that needs done before the storm, and other farmer things.




If ever I fed people food for a living instead of words and ideas, I would feed them porridge.

It is the meal I most closely associate with the term comfort food, and the one I’ll gladly eat any time of day but especially at the end of a long and discouraging one. It is the breakfast I always hope is fed to me when I stay at a friend or relative’s house, and at home in my own kitchen, it is the one I love to change throughout the seasons with all variations of grains, fruits, and flavors. I’m especially partial to thick-rolled oats but lately I’ve also been experimenting with various ratios of amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, and polenta.






And then I always seem to return to oats. Perhaps this is because I grew up on its simplicity and homeliness, eating it slowly on nearly frosty mornings at the same table I have now, as I listened to my dad talk about the weather and other farmer things in his wool socks.



Chai-Spiced Pear Oats, serves 2 Continue reading “Chai-Spiced Pear Oats”

Hazelnut, Pear & Oat Muffins



We arrived just as the wind picked up and rain came on. Most market-goers had deserted and the farmers stood under their tents with their arms raised high, holding on to the beams.




I loaded up the last of Larry’s pears and as we chatted I piled them on to his scale. He had to let go of his tent to weigh and figure a price and Will quickly reached up and held it down for him.


The significance of our simple interaction struck me later. It was one small moment in an ordinary day. The exchange reminded me of how we rely on each other. Constantly. Unnoticeably. And it’s there in those quietly normal experiences, when we’re not realizing the significance, that who we are is revealed.




When I observe the simple interactions that make up most days, I realize I am often either engrossed in my own storm, focused on holding down my tent and getting through, or I am asking, demanding, pushing of others. I like to think the latter, the pushing, helps people become better, reach higher, risk further. I see Will though, and so many others in my life, who reach out to listen, support, and give of themselves easily. In the ordinary everyday, I’d like to do a little more of the holding up of others’ tents.


Watch your interactions today. Are you just holding on, hoping the wind doesn’t blow away all that you’ve been working for? Are you asking and/or demanding of others? Are you instead an encourager or perhaps a helper, willing to take over for another for a while? There’s significance here in the mechanics of our connections. Pay attention. The roles we play in these small moments make up who we are, who we ultimately become.


Hazelnut, Pear & Oat Muffins, makes 12 standard or 8 large
Inspired by Megan Gordon’s Whole Grain Mornings
3/4 cup oat bran, certified gluten-free
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix
3/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp. salt
2 medium pears
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup almond milk
1 Tbs. raw apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs. ground flax seed
6 Tbs. hot water
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with papers.
  • In a small dish, whisk together the hot water and flax seed. Set aside to form a thick slurry.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, combine the almond milk and vinegar. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the oat bran, flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt. Mix well and set aside.
  • Grate the pears using the large holes of a box grater. Don’t include the core and seeds.
  • In the liquid measuring cup with milk, add the honey, oil, vanilla, pears, half of the hazelnuts, and flax mixture. Stir thoroughly.
  • Pour the liquids into the dry mixture and stir until just combined.
  • Fill the muffin cups almost to the top with batter and then sprinkle the remaining hazelnuts on the top. Put the muffins in the oven immediately and decrease the heat to 375 degrees F. Bake until the tops are golden brown, for 20-25 minutes.
There are many reoccuring themes in my thoughts and for my own purposes, I’m starting to link them together. Here are a couple more past experiences on connections and listening