Here on Oatgasm, we like to celebrate. From birthdays, to anniversaries, we celebrate everyday, because every day there’s a reason to celebrate. Despite these cultural differences, we still gather on this little collaboration to honor the parallels among us.
We are Italians, Americans, Aussies, Chinese, Germans, and everything in between. We are not a giant mélange of randoms. We are, rather, a tribe of people, who have gathered across sea and land to take refuge in our similarities, our stories, our likes, dislikes, and our food. I have a beautiful sense of pride for being the host of such a lovely gathering of folk, and I only hope that all of you who contribute feel the same, for simply taking part in this daily tribute.
That being said, today marks the first day of the Lunar New Year, China’s rendering of our New Year. As it happens, 2014 is the year of the horse, the year of defined structure and good communication. In this, take some time to relax, correspond, and converse a bit, perhaps over coffee or even a bowl of oatmeal. Create new links, or fortify new ones. Connect with those around you, whether it be over the internet, in the quiet modesty of a hand-written letter (my personal favorites), through the waves of a simple phone call, or in timeless gathering around the table.
Traditionally, I don’t celebrate the Chinese New Year. There was one year, too long ago, when we lit paper lanterns and stabbed saucy pieces of chicken out of cardboard boxes with the points of our chopsticks, and I’ve had my yearly share of stale fortune cookies promising me eternal youth, riches, and happiness. These celebratory efforts; contrived, shallow, and just as stale as those cellophane-wrapped crescent cookies, have kept me in the dark, rather than enlightening my way into the upcoming year as they’re intended to do.
I’m 100% for whole-spirited communal celebration, but I’m finding that self-celebration is equally as eminent. I speak of quiet commemoration, of observance, and of blissful salute; the kind that warms the soul like no amount of merriment can. Today, we are given the opportunity to partake in both. Enjoy this festive breakfast, which I share to you in the truest form of communication I know: a recipe. Even more so, allow a moment or two for yourself, to honor the bygone past, live in the breathing moment, and look forward to the indefinite future.
In Chinese culture, mandarin oranges are considered as lucky. At their peak of ripeness, they are most abundant during the New Year festivities, making them a symbol for monetary abundance and prosperity. Here, they stand as a citrusy-sweet counterpart to the underlying flavor of green tea.While partaking in ceremony, tea is often offered as a modest reminder of tranquility and the subtle pleasures in everyday life. Green tea, in particular, plays an essential role in the ‘new’ of the New Year. Not only does it revitalize and cleanse your body, but brings clarity and purification to the soul as well. When the tea is steeped overnight, it becomes somewhat pungent and incredibly flavorful, making it the perfect liquid to use in oatmeal. Combined with mandarin, the its’ essence is extended beyond the average cup of tea. Both fruit and liquid are unified as the oatmeal cooks, but truly come together with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. While small, they lend a light, nutty crunch that pulls all of the elements together. Whether served as a meal to bring in the New Year, or a simple breakfast on any given day, this oatmeal will definitely bring a sense of celebration to you day.
Have a lucky Lunar New Year!
- 2-4 Green Tea bags, more or less depending on desired strength
- 1 1/2 cups milk of choice or water, to steep tea in
- 1/2 cup oats
- pinch of salt
- 1-2 tbsp. honey, depending on desired sweetness/strength of tea
- 1 mandarin orange, peeled and segmented
- about 1 tsp. white sesame seeds
The night before, set the tea bags in a large mug or bowl. Boil the liquid, and pour over the tea bags so they are completely immersed. Leave overnight to steep.
In the morning, discard the bags (do not try to 'squeeze' out more flavor). Bring the tea, oats, and salt to a low simmer on the stove. Let sit for a minute or two as the oats begin to absorb the liquid. When thickened, stir in the honey.
Once desired consistency is reached, stir in about half of the orange pieces. Transfer to a bowl or dish, top with the rest of the orange, sesame seeds, and a bit more honey if desired. Enjoy.