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They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I don't know if that's true or not, because I almost never eat it. Not because I don't like it, and not because I don't need it—most of the time, I'm halfway to fainting from low blood sugar before I swallow my first mouthful of the day—but simply because...actually, I have no idea why. I really should eat breakfast.
There was a short period when I did, back in college. I made a point of eating a hearty first meal of the day, every day, and I felt like a million bucks for the few months it lasted (which, come to think of it, would support the claim that breakfast is the most important meal). I had a microwave in my dorm room, and I'd use it to cook up a bowl of oatmeal from rolled oats. Then I'd mash a banana into it and sprinkle some walnuts on top. It kept me running at least until the early evening, well through two hours of translating the Aeneid in advanced Latin and a couple more discussing Foucault and hermaphroditism in medical anthropology. That's the power of oatmeal for you.
Anyway, that's where I got the inspiration for this warming, high-energy breakfast, which, if I were responsible, I'd eat at least, oh, I don't know, once a week? It starts with that same idea of oatmeal with bananas and walnuts and upgrades every facet of it.
Instead of rolled oats, I switched to steel-cut for this version. They take a bit longer to cook—about 20 to 30 minutes—but their nutty texture and flavor are far, far superior.
Then, while the oats are cooking, I take advantage of that time to do a little more with the bananas. Instead of just mashing them into the oatmeal raw, I cook them first with a little butter and brown sugar until they're lightly caramelized. It's a riff on bananas Foster, without the booze and ice cream (though, if booze and ice cream are how you want to roll for breakfast, I won't stop you).
The walnuts go into the skillet with the caramelized bananas until they're just toasted and coated in a delicate candy lacquer.
For a final touch, l stir just a bit of peanut butter into the oatmeal because—peanut butter and bananas! It's all very simple and obvious, really.
To serve it, I add about half of the banana-walnut mixture to the oatmeal and mash it in, then scoop it into bowls and put the remainder on top as a garnish. A little grated orange zest helps wake up all those browned, buttery, nutty flavors. And yes, you really do need to wake up...it's time for school.
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