November 13, 2013 at 1:00 am

Maureen Tisdale

Let's Talk Food: Unusual (maybe) breakfast bedfellows

Mom's favorite breakfast, a cooked-oatmeal-yogurt wonder in which she mixes dried fruit and then tops with defrosted frozen. (Debbie Tisdale)

One more self-serving editorís note: If you missed Saturdayís column, check it out; itís both a cookbook giveaway and a plea for cookie swap ideas. You donít want to miss the reader recipes contributed, either. Hope to see you there!

Now, Iím not sure this column isnít going to be reminiscent of the Baked Potato Jacket Incident.

I remember, years ago at a previous newspaper, a features story being pitched about unusual food habits. One example: folding and eating baked potato skins with butter like a sandwich. There was an outcry ó thatís right, an outcry ó among protesters who said that isnít weird, thatís what everyone (except, apparently, the idea proposer) does.

I didnít happen to join the war, but I remember secretly agreeing there was nothing unusual about that.

So for all I know, what my mom, and my mom-in-law, do with oatmeal and yogurt isnít unusual, and Iím far more the strange bird with my raw-oatmeal-directly-in-yogurt-to-plump-up methods ó which, by the way, I canít get enough of these days using my baked apple chunks and cinnamon. Without the defrosted juice from frozen fruit (which is how I did it all summer and wrote about previously; that column has dropped off our site, but email me at Eats& if you want a copy), itís far more dense and creamy. I havenít been trying it with Grape Nuts because I canít imagine anything besting the nutty flavor of the oats, better complemented by the cinnamon and apple than I remember.

But I digress. Though Mom loves it when Baron cooks for her, as he did with his Gorgonzola Chicken Pasta with Basil (OK, that was a cheap excuse to mention him and say: Happy birthday, brother!), she is a bit of a kitchen experimenter herself. A few weeks ago. she told me she sometimes mixes oatmeal and yogurt and milk ó with the oatmeal cooked in water first.

That struck me as unusual; cooked oatmeal is warm and kinda softly pebbly, and Iíd think the water in it ó or even in the milk in the dish ó would dilute the creaminess of the yogurt too much. But when she told me she makes it on Sundays for the rest of the week, I asked her to shoot me a copy of what she does; in addition to always being interested in batch food prep, Iíve been experimenting with what I can make enough days ahead to bring breakfast to that Maine Thanksgiving trip I keep telling you about, and not have to worry about that meal while Iím there. (My brother Billís big breakfasts are too hard to have just a little; I need a plan in advance to ward off temptation.)

Besides, last week I watched my mother-in-law do the same darn thing with cooked oatmeal and yogurt, which come to think of it, shouldnít have surprised me as much; her whole familyís big on mix-ins, including yogurt, when eating her delectable baked oatmeal I told you about recently. (Somehow, though, in my head that was different, I guess Ďcause baked oatmeal is not watery like regular cooked oatmeal.) Similar to Mom, my mother-in-law mixed walnuts into hers, and adds fruit sometimes too.

I donít think these two lovely ladies are in cahoots to make me think Iím crazy, but just in case, I thought Iíd ask our readers (and for the intrigued, share how Mom does hers, below, since she has it down to a science): What do you think? Are cooked oatmeal and yogurt odd bedfellows, or is it me?

What are your favorite interesting breakfast bedfellows? Weíd love to hear about íem in the comments below the recipe. You need a Facebook account to add comments, but theyíre easy to sign up for, and free. Over the next few days, Detroit News Food Editor Maureen Tisdale will respond to comments or questions. You also can follow her on Twitter @reentiz. Join the discussion!

Mom's Favorite Make-Ahead Breakfast

(Complete with her calorie notes, for the figure-watchers)

Chobani Lemon Yogurt (130 calories)

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (38 calories)

2 dried apricots, diced (25 calories)

1/3 cup old fashioned oatmeal (120 calories), either uncooked and mixed in (Maureen yay!) or cooked in water then mixed in (Maureen ó huh)

1/4 cup skim milk (22.5 calories) (Maureen note ó I love that she noted the 1/2 a calorie. Thatís my detail-oriented mom. She also mentioned you could use almond milk, even lighter at 10 calories.)

1/2 cup frozen strawberries, defrosted (35 calories)

Grand total on calories = 370.5 (with skim milk)

In Momís words: ďI put the yogurt in first, then the third cup of oats oatmeal and then the quarter cup of milk and I stir them together. Then I chop up the apricots and put those in, and then I cut up the walnuts and put those in. Mix it all up, and then I set it in the refrigerator. I take out the frozen strawberries and put them in a baggie and put them in the fridge so they thaw by morning.Ē

She mixes everything up but the strawberries on Sunday for the rest of the week, adding the strawberries daily. She said: ďYou can use any kind of berries for the topping and plain Greek yogurt if you wish. I use a little Truvia on the strawberries.Ē