Given the refugee crisis engulfing Europe – and the world – at the moment, writing about milk and oats seems totally trivial. The first time the heartbreaking image of little Aylan Kurdi lying dead on the beach came up in my feed I couldn’t look away. There was something about the way he was lying that looked just like the way my daughter sleeps in her bed at night and I couldn’t stop thinking of how scared he must have been in the ocean, alone, at the end. Of how he deserved to be safe and warm in bed, just like my kids.
It only makes me all the more angry at Australia’s punitive and heartless refugee policies. This is the supposedly ‘lucky country’, and it has been transformed over the last century by immigrants from Europe, from Asia, from the Middle East, from Africa. Made a richer, and a better, place to live thanks to the diverse cultures and hard work of so many refugees and migrants. This is my personal history – my grandparents came over as refugees after World War II – but it is also our collective history, our collective culture. We shouldn’t stand by as cruelties are perpetrated in our name. We may not have voted for this government, but this is our shame. We need to demand better.
Perhaps – most likely – you didn’t come to this space for that kind of heavy reflection but shit happens, and sometimes the real world intrudes upon this lovely, but decidedly make-believe, world of pretty pictures and lovely food. We still gotta eat though and perversely enough, life goes on. So let’s raise a glass of this homemade oat milk to Aylan, to his family, and to all of the refugees across the world who deserve our empathy, our compassion, and our open doors.
Little W is having an intolerance to cow’s milk at the moment, so we’ve started experimenting with different types of milk. Almond milk is always a favourite of mine, but I tried oat milk for the first time a few weeks back and it was wonderfully creamy. I then discovered just how easy it is to make yourself at home, and so I did. This is a fairly standard homemade oat milk recipe – if you like you can replace the dates with maple syrup, and if you want to thin it out just add a splash more water. You can also jazz it up with some more vanilla or spices – cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg would all be great.
Faced with a jug of cold tasty fresh oat milk, I decided to whip a batch of granola to go with it. Is four granola recipes on one blog too much? Perhaps, but this stovetop granola is easy and tasty, and so worth having in your back pocket for a quick craving. The orange rind and cardamom give it a beautiful flavour – I’ve been eating this for brekky with homemade oat milk, as an afternoon sweet snack with a big dollop of yoghurt, and even sprinkling it on my plain oat porridge for a bit of texture and oomph.
Homemade Oat Milk + Stovetop Granola
Homemade Oat Milk
2 cups rolled oats
5 cups water (+ more for soaking)
3 medjool dates, pitted
1 1/2 tsps vanilla essence
1/2 tsp salt
Soak the oats in enough water to cover for 20 – 30 minutes. Drain and rinse well in a colander, then transfer to a blender along with the five cups of water and the medjool dates. Blitz thoroughly.
Strain the oat mixture through a nut bag or cheese cloth into a jar or bottle. Add the salt and vanilla essence, and shake to combine.
Keep sealed and chilled in the fridge for up to 2 – 3 days.
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cups pepitas
3 tbsps dried blueberries
1 tsp ground cardamom
Rind of 1 orange
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsps coconut oil
2 tbsps maple syrup
Finely zest the orange rind and set aside.
Combine the oats, walnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds and ground cardamom in a large saucepan and toast over a medium-low heat until the oats start to darken and the nuts smell fragrant. Make a small hole in the middle and add the coconut oil, syrup, and orange zest. Stir to thoroughly coat the oat mixture, add the dried blueberries, and remove from the heat.
Once cooled to room temperature store the granola in an airtight jar.