Absence and Secret Behavior: Cherry-Coconut Oatmeal

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Finally finished touring this week and so I'm throwing up one of my favorite posts from the archives as I just haven't had time to write anything. The next week or two will be a little crazy so we'll see what happens with the posts so please bear with me. Hope you all have a lovely turkey day! Remember to keep Melt in mind for your holiday shopping!  ~Garrett

-We all have our little secret habits.-

Fiance is out for the weekend for his duty with the Army Reserves - an overnighter that he's not sure of the purpose of but that he is unequivocally required to attend. He was up around four in the morning this Saturday dressed in full camo with rucksack slung over his shoulder. He pecked me goodbye and reminded me that, yes, four am was something that existed and that he would be back late Sunday night. Then off he went while I drifted back to sleep.

And what a wonderful sleep it was.

It may sound a little terrible, but I love his reserve duty weekends that include an overnighter or require him to get up so early in the morning that it can barely be justifiably called morning.

-See? Sounds terrible. No loving mate should say such a thing regardless of how true it is.-

But then again it's hard for me to argue with the fact that I get the entire bed all to myself. After all, there's something to be said for sprawling. Tonight I won't have to share the covers with anyone but the cats and they don't complain when I spindle the sheets around myself into a fluffy cocoon of fleece, down, and flannel. No stray elbows are going to knock into my ribs and cause me to wake up with strange indigo bruises of somnambu-happenstance. And, though I adore him, Fiance's snoring is often mistaken for semi trucks downshifting on a highway, which, as you can imagine, doesn't make sleeping easy. Or feasible.

So yes; I slept well last night and I will sleep even better tonight.

While this undisturbed sleep is wonderful, after a few days the bed feels empty and the novelty wears off. Absence not only makes the heart grow fonder, it makes the sheets far colder.

Yet I think that couples need these tiny little breaks from each other. Yes, you may have your work hours apart but when you live together you're still spending the bulk of your time cohabiting. There may be very little room for just you between the two of you and there becomes little respite for your own thoughts. The longer you go without some personal silence the closer you come to just snapping and putting your cherished other's face right through the living room wall.

As individuals we crave the presence of other people. Being social creatures is wired into our DNA; it's why our simian ancestors picked nits out of our hair and why we flip the tags back into each other's shirts - we have to connect with people. But we're also individuals. We need to be able to breath, to ponder our own thoughts, and to exist in space of our own.

-Otherwise we just get so peeved at people we just start knocking moutherf***ers out.-

We have personal bubbles for a reason. And no one likes their bubble popped.

Personal space gives us a chance to open ourselves to self reflection. No need to feel guilty. It's okay to be a bit egotistic and think about just you. The thing is, we need this time to focus on what's important to us and assess our own needs.

Plus, it's also one of those rare time where we can truly let go and be ourselves with no one around to judge. "But Garrett," you ask, "I'm always myself around my significant person." I'm sure you mostly are. But we all have those tiny little habits, those things we do only - and still only - in private.

Allow me to homo it up a bit and reference the show Sex and the City in order to make my point; Sarah Jessica Parker's character, Carrie Bradshaw, called these actions Secret Single Behavior, or SSB - those things you do when no one, especially the person you're dating, is around. For Bradshaw it was standing in the kitchen reading celebrity rags with saltine crackers smeared with grape jelly. For her friend it was getting a magnification mirror and obsessing over her pores.

These SSB are actions, habits, and quirks that you indulge in in secret because to anyone else they would see it as strange and look at you like you grew a third arm that could spontaneously contact juggle. But, my god, these little SSB make you feel wonderful. Tiny, inconsequential actions that are just yours and for whatever bizarre reason give you more joy than a bag full of bubble gum.

-And who doesn't love bubblegum or contact juggling? Or, you know, oatmeal?-

For me, one of my (I guess no-longer) SSB's is that I will put on my favorite songs from Glee and sing to them.

While doing the choreography.

In the living room.

Possibly with the cats watching and in my pajamas.

Yes. It's shameful. Yes, you may all know about it, but none of you WILL EVER SEE IT HAPPEN. Especially, not Fiance. I'm sure he would either have a laughter-induced heart attack or just sort of nod his head with further realization that holy crap he's marrying a loon with a penchant for over-stylized Journey songs and who knows every move to the "Thriller" music video. (Though the latter I feel is not shameful in the least, but rather makes me more endearing and awesome.)

I argue that these secret behaviors extend past dating and well into engagement and marriage years.

Obviously, some of these particular quirks can be culinary (see crackers reference earlier). For me, I love to play with oatmeal on a cold day, bundle myself in blankets, and watch B-Horror movies. Is it odd? Yes. Why do I love it? I dunno. I just do.

And yes, it may not seem that odd, but you haven't seen my oatmeal. In private my oatmeal is a bit... unique. Sometimes it gets stirred together with cream, maple syrup, and dried fruit. Other times brown sugar and pecans. Sometimes it's gin. Or leftover ham. Perhaps some crumbled tortilla chips and the sauteed Brussels sprouts that didn't get finished last night. Sometimes I tear up a piece of chocolate cake sitting on the counter into my oatmeal because it is one of the best things you have never had but that tastes like childhood rebellion and Senior Ditch Day back in high school.

-But in all honesty Dr. Pepper-Chocolate Cake oatmeal looks like rank sewage. Nothing like the one above.-

Oatmeal is my muse. It can go with everything sweet or savory and I promise that every lick of what's in the bowl will be slicked out with eager fingers. The oatmeal is like congee or grits - a means of getting other sensational foods that I adore into my mouth.

Judge all you want. Dr. Pepper and chocolate cake oatmeal is one of the most rockin' things ever.

Don't worry though, this recipe isn't that (though I considered it).

Today's oatmeal is a much more traditional flavor pairing presented in a not so traditional way. Oatmeal cooked in a bit of coconut milk, with a sprinkle of vanilla extract, a small scoop of sugar, and dried cherries. A smattering of slivered almonds for finish does wonders by adding crunch and mellowness. Tropical. Flavorful. Self indulgent. Completely made up on the sly this very morning as I jived my way into the kitchen singing the Glee mashup of Halo/Walking on Sunshine.

It also tastes amazing while buried under six blankets in the privacy of your own home watching a copy of The Killer Tongue. I highly recommend it.

Just so long as you don't let anyone discover you doing it. Naturally.

So when Fiance returns Sunday night things will go back to normal. I'll be happy that he's warming the bed and my oatmeal will revert to a more conventional state, which is odd as Fiance hates oatmeal anyways. (Which brings up the question of why hide my habit at all?) I just choose a more socially prescribed recipe in his presence.

But, make no mistake, next weekend when he's at reserve duty I'm breaking down the steel cut barriers again. Maybe bust out the sriracha while I'm at it.

Cherry-Coconut Oatmeal
Serves 2

1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
sugar to taste
pinch of salt
2 cups oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Bring the coconut milk, water, vanilla extract, sugar, and salt to a boil in a saucepan on high heat. Lower heat to medium and add the oatmeal and cherries. Cook for four minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve in bowls and top with almonds.


  1. Garrett, your post are always so amusing! Your oatmeal actually reminds me of the black cherry yogurt parfait with vanilla almond coconut oatmeal macaroon topping we used to sell at my job. That was delish so I can just imagine your oatmeal. Yum! By the way my ringtone is halo/walking on sunshine. ;)

  2. Secret single behavior!!! One of my favorite Sex and the City moments. My boyfriend is an oatmeal fanatic, but I'm starting to get bored of the same old thing everyday. Your version sounds wonderful! (If he's away, all I do is watch reality TV or those crazy murder reenactment shows. Sometimes I try to choreograph a Lady Gaga song. Or a Beyonce song, if I'm feeling sassy.)

  3. I eat a large piece of tiramisu with half a bottle of red wine, while wearing sweatpants and watching something on PBS. I call it "my trifecta". Could I do this in front of my husband of almost 9 years when he's home? Yes. Do I? No.

  4. Yes, yes, yes. Welcome to the military spouse life ;) Our first year of marriage, hubby was in port for 1-2 weeks, then out to sea 2-3 weeks per month. It was nice to have him gone a few days, and when he came back I was more than ready for him to come back.

    Now he has a desk job and is home every night... but I definitely regress to my SSB when he goes on trips!

  5. Haha, I love talking about SSB! Crushed tortilla chips in oatmeal is hilarious! And I believe Dr. Pepper in oatmeal is delicious.

    My SSB is eyebrow tweezing. Daily. And then pondering changing the shape. Mine are huge like Brooke Shields, but I contemplate whittling them down daily.

  6. My Grandmother taught me to crumble crispy bacon on oatmeal, and top with butter and brown sugar. I feel like it's a waste to eat it any other way. My refinement is to use pepper bacon or add freshly ground black pepper and Michigan maple syrup. Wonderful!!

  7. Funny, I just started eating a bowl of oatmeal with cocoa, chocolate chips and vanilla as I clicked onto your post. Chocolate cake crumbled into a bowl of oatmeal? Yes, I've done that! Most everyone has a secret combination of food that they love. Long ago, when I used manage a kitchen staff, one of my cooks told me that everyone once in a while she just had to have a bologna sandwich with a twinkie smashed inside it. =)

  8. I thought "Oatmeal. This young'un can't teach me about oatmeal. I have been consuming really cool oatmeal for longer than he has been alive! Blueberries with pecans, sauteed apples with walnuts, dried cherries, I have been there, done it all winter. Nope this kid can't.."..coconut milk???!! now there's a thought.
    And I think the world made a mistake when couples gave up separate bedrooms.

  9. You've made me want my ssb food right now... And oatmeal. Mine is Nacho Cheese Doritos dipped in ketchup. Lots of ketchup. Oh if it weren't for crap NW weather right now, I would be GOING TO BUY SOME DORITOS AND KETCHUP! Um, and some oatmeal. :)

  10. 2 cups of oatmeal and 2 cups of liquid? how can that work? i will try in the morning though and see how it goes. my normal everyday oatmeal is 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup oatmeal (1 minutes oatmeal not whole or instant)and a banana, usually frozen very ripe then nuked for a minute to make banana syrup.....cook in microwave for 2 minutes then add vanilla and some grapenuts or something crunchy. usually topped with a tiny bit of half and half. i have other fancy oatmeal recipes (mainly inspired by a vacation in key west) but thats my go to morning breakfast (which is part of a food plan i lost 200 lbs on). your recipe sounds delish i just cant get the 1:1 ratio of liquid to oatmeal.

  11. The best thing to wake up to, fact.

  12. Anna Bananas: Love it. ;)

    Brianne: Oh, I miss that show. I fear the prequel coming out, though. =P

    Michelle: As it should be.

  13. Annon: Well, it works. The pictures show it. Not sure what to tell you there.

    Dorothy K: Okay, ew. But then again who am I to judge? ;)

    Burnttoast: Try it, and let me know what you think. =D

  14. I love oatmeal in the morning. I was getting tired of my blueberry/pecan combo, so this gives me a new direction (get it? heh) to try. Thanks!

  15. My recent obsession has been oat bran. Every morning! It's sweet and warm and feels like morning giving me a hug. It rocks, and I have no intention of stopping playing with Flavors. I LOVE the chocolate cake idea though. HALLELUIA, dessert has come early! I bet it really is what senior ditch day tastes like. I would Love to see that recipe (almost as much as I'd love to see you dancing <3 ) Xo

  16. Hey Garrett:
    This is a really cool recipe:-) I tried it yesterday for breakfast and I really liked it. I also had leftovers which I will eat today. I will probably make a bigger batch tomorrow as well and have my husband as well as some friends try it. As for my SSB- well, I kind of have to think about that one- there is more than one.

  17. Snoring is very often a symptom of sleep apnea - even if hubby isn't overweight. Please have it checked by doctor and have a sleep study done. This can be fixed. You'll thank me!

  18. Is it a liquidy oatmeal? I'm curious, because the picture looks very soupy. I have steel cut oats I keep trying to find time and excuse to cook, but it's difficult; if I use my smallest slow cooker, it needs almost three servings to properly cook, and no one wants to share, and cooking on the stove takes thirty minutes.

    Oh, and I almost forget, re: my comment in December; WELS (somehow an H got in there before) is the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Not people you want to know if you're gay, tolerant of gays, or open-minded of anything outside of strict Christianity in general. Scary, scary people.

  19. Soku: It's middle of the road. I wouldn't call it soupy or crazy thick. =)

  20. I have to agree with you. It's sometimes helpful to have some time apart from your better half. It doesn't only give you some time for yourself but it also enables you to miss each other.

  21. ok garrett i experimented. did your recipe with coconut milk plus water and with regular whole milk which is my usual. used my normal one minute oats or quick oats as they are sometimes called. and a frozen banana in each that i thawed into its soupy syrupy deliciousness. the milk version was like wallpaper paste. its just too thick and gummy. however to my surprise the coconut version was not quite so thick. but still i really like the 1/2 oatmeal to 1 milk ratio. your recipe though was a really delicious version. i did it again the next day and soaked my cherries in warm dark rum for a few minutes before i added them. i also added a few drops of almond extract. NOW this is a breakfast that screams money!!!! also i made 3 times more than i needed. i added 2 beaten eggs and a 1/2 tsp of baking powder to the leftover oatmeal plus 1 heaping tablespoon of sugar and made some of the most delicious oatmeal coconut almond rum cherry muffins. split and spread with clotted cream.....freaking unbelievable.

  22. Annonymous: I don't like instant for that reason - it has a tendency to get gummy. Regular oats may take a lot longer to cook, but the texture is much silkier. =)

  23. oohhh wow! simply amazing! perfect for breakfast. very healthy meal. :)

  24. Coconut milk is such a nice addition to oatmeal. I can imagine the combination of that along the cherries make a delicious yet very healthy breakfast.


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