It's here, finally. Twenty-sixteen has dropped in on us, and there's no turning back. We made plans to move out of our current place by the end of last year, and should be standing in our new apartment right now contemplating the mighty rays of sunlight coming in through the kitchen window. But we are still in the process of cleaning, fixing and painting the new place, as plans have their way of changing course on us, unlike time's forward motion, which I knew I could count on to show up. So we wise up and learn to rely on its constancy: go with the flow, seize the moment, live life to the fullest, ah yes, don't oversleep and never miss breakfast.
Good morning! Well, yes folks, it's a brand new day. Get up, stretch out, and let's eat. Today we have homemade soy milk and goji berry granola, and a whole new year to look forward to. Make them in big batches and you have breakfast prepared for at least a week.
I acquired the basics of homemade granola from Christine of Jar of Lemons, another self-confessed breakfast fanatic, who offered one very important tip in granola making success: "Check it often to prevent burning!" The great thing about homemade granola is you can get creative with the ingredients and flavor combinations.
Based on experience though, I'd start with the basic rule of 'one of each', which for me is rolled oats plus one kind of seed (pumpkin seeds), one kind of nut (pecan pieces), one kind of fruit (goji berries) and one spice (cinnamon). And go from there. Surprise yourself. In this case, it's surprising for me how goji berries have graduated from the Asian soups of my childhood and found a new place in my Western breakfast.
I've embraced granola as a convenient and versatile breakfast staple that can be enjoyed simply with milk, on smoothies or with fruits. Take a cue from Christine and make a breakfast parfait by layering granola with Greek yogurt and fruits, and topping it with a drizzle of honey. I've been having my granola with a simple soy milk from my childhood, something I learned to make from my mother. Soy milk makes a regular appearance in Asian breakfast, and homemade soy milk was a regular production in our household.
+ I wanted to show Christine what Malaysians like to eat for breakfast so I shared with her my recipe for making kaya, a jam made with coconut milk, eggs, palm sugar and pandan leaves that's usually spread on toast and enjoyed with soft-boiled eggs. Head over to Christine's blog to read about her first Malaysian breakfast experience by clicking here.
++ I'm excited to announce the launch of a Q&A series with food bloggers called Why I Write About Food. It started with a year-end reflective post, which you can read here, and my curiosity drove me to ask some of my favorite food bloggers why they write about food. In the coming weeks, expect some delicious conversations right this way!
Happy new year! What did you have for your first meal of the year? I'd love to hear from you.
Homemade Soy Milk and Goji Berry Granola
Making your own soy milk and granola is a good way to avoid the excessive sugar and artificial ingredients that often find their way into the store-bought kinds. Both of these recipes are really simple, and can be made ahead and stored for at least a week. To enjoy, combine desired amount of goji berry granola and soy milk (preferably refrigerated) in a bowl.
HOMEMADE SOY MILK
Creamy in texture and rich in taste, homemade soy milk was a kitchen project I shared with my mother as a kid. Makes about 10 cups.
2 cups dried soy beans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Sweetener of choice, to taste (optional)
Soak 2 cups of dried soy beans in a pot of water overnight, or about 8 to 10 hours. Beans will double in size so make sure there's enough water. Drain the water and rinse the soy beans. You will now get about 4 to 5 cups of soy beans.
Blend the soy beans in 8 to 10 cups of water (2 cups water for every cup of beans) until creamy and frothy. Depending on the size of your blender, you can do this in batches. Pour through a milk bag/ cheese cloth over a large pot and squeeze all the liquid out. Gently skim the froth off the surface of the soy milk.
Cook in low to medium-low heat, stirring frequently, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the taste of raw soy is gone. You can add vanilla extract and sweetener of choice if you like. Serve warm or allow to cool and store in the refrigerator.
GOJI BERRY GRANOLA
Superfood goji berry graduates from the Asian soups of my childhood, finding its place in this delicious Western breakfast staple. Makes about 4 cups.
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup dried goji berries, soaked in water for 10 minutes
Preheat oven to 300° F. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine coconut oil and maple syrup. Drizzle the liquid mixture into the large bowl and mix until all the dry ingredients are coated. Pour mixture onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and spread evenly.
Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the oats start to brown, checking every 5 minutes to toss the ingredients so that they bake evenly. Remove from heat, add rehydrated goji berries and toss to mix. Allow to cool. Granola will continue to crisp as it cools. Store in an airtight container.