oats with mandarin, yogurt, blueberries & dark chocolate

Every time I plan a “luxurious” day-off breakfast for myself, the day of I abandon the notion entirely and prep some old reliable staple: a bowl of yogurt, warmed oatmeal, a frothy smoothie or a crisp peanut butter-slathered toast, as opposed to the stack of pancakes or maple-ribboned french toast I envision. I guess that points to my overall simplistic mindset, my fixation with routine, familiarity – a crutch sometimes but a comfort most. Occasionally, I gently lean against normality. I twist the juice out of the rinds until something a bit more imaginative comes up. Cue this, a bite of tangy citrus grated and squeezed into a normal day-to-day oat bowl. “Luxurious” enough. Certainly fulfilling enough.

I wasn’t sure how to headline this modgepodge writeup at first. It’s more of a journal entry or a photobook of sporadic outdoors/coffee shoots rather than a hard-and-fast gush over my breakfast. The reality is, though, that this disorganized organization mirrors my little nook in this here world. Pretty pieces that don’t make sense but don’t have to. Interruptions and breaks in the bubbling stream of life. But food is a good attention-grabber, so food it is.

I’ve been busy behind the lens and, considering such was one of my primary goals for 2017, I’m rather eager to share my practice even if the shots aren’t all knotted by a single theme. I’ve passed a lot of time outdoors of late, lounging poolside where plants brush against the fence & hang lazily above the picnic tables and sometimes float onto the surface of the rippling bowl of water, and my eyes have tuned in to the artistry of shape and the playful game of catch between light and shadow. I’m usually alone out there, and a drippy fountain combined with the light beep of a focusing camera effectively shuts down the white noise of my mind. I often weave between different artistic mediums and right now photography + narration glue my sanity together best.




But, my slow living escapades aren’t all photogenic. More often than not it’s collapsing in bed after work with Food Network or Cooking Channel blurting in my ears. I ate these oats in bed and in the process found crumbs from last night’s dinner hiding in the folds of my comforter. There’s a pile of paper towels on my nightstand from meals and sips past. I’m probably 80% inside and 20% out. Though, the television viewing has yielded a renewed interest in kitchen experimentation, and playing with flavor, and in that there’s craft and creativity. So for a morning quieter than four of five during my week – I work opening shifts frequently – I reshaped a classic breakfast into one with little fuss but more pop than my usual. An infusion of mandarin orange, zest and juice, played up with nutmeg + cinnamon + ginger, and finished with a scoop of extra protein in the form of plain Greek yogurt. I need some sweet and honey is a pleasant drizzle to add, especially when it hits the crumbled pecans. Old reliable, holes patched and hemmed anew. Ah.

After the recipe you’ll find some of my favorite 365 Days of Coffee entries, my Instagram project you can find in real-time if you follow VE on that platform. I don’t add a new coffee photo every day but I’m admittedly impressed with the regularity. DOC has inspired me to play with framing, lighting, and with lessening my self-consciousness about public coffee snapping. So far, it’s a vessel entirely for good.






1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (quick is fine, too)

3/4-1 cup milk or water

Pinch of sea salt

1 tsp mandarin orange zest

Juice of 1 mandarin orange

1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

Dashes of: nutmeg & powdered ginger

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup fresh blueberries

1 TB pecans, roughly chopped

1 TB good-quality dark chocolate chunks or chips

  1. Grate your mandarin and chop your pecans; set aside.
  2. Place oats in a small sauce pot and cover with milk/water. Add mandarin juice + zest, salt & spices.
  3. Heat stovetop to a medium heat setting. Allow oats to cook until soft and liquid boils down, about 5-8 minutes depending on the strength of your stove. This is a slightly different cooking method than many I’ve seen online, which involve pre-boiling the liquid, adding the oats & simmering. I find I like the texture of boiling the water + oats together, and the process breezes by. I cook rice like this, too. Just FYI.
  4. Pour oats into a bowl. Top immediately with dark chocolate to get a nice meltedness.
  5. Assemble remainder of the bowl: yogurt, pecans, and blueberries. Finish with a drizzle of honey and some extra mandarin zest, if desired.

    Day 43 || Heart Roasters Honduras Catchara + Salted Caramel Mocha creamer


    Day 51 || Heart Roasters Honduras Catchara + Salted Caramel Mocha creamer [notice a trend?]


    Day 52 || Cappuccino @ Oxford Exchange


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