muesli & slow cooker oatmeal

I've been making my own breakfast cereals lately.   I like store bought kinds, but they tend to be filled with sugar and cheap ingredients.  Muesli is great because it's a cold cereal that you can eat with milk as you would with any store bought kind, and it's easy and inexpensive to make at home.  I made mine in a 1/2 gallon mason jar that I rolled around on the carpet to mix. 

3 C oats
2 C whole grain or corn flakes
1 C raisins
1 C slivered almonds or nuts
1/4 C sesame seeds
1 t cinnamon
dried fruit (I dehydrated apples and berries this summer.)
other possible additions- barley flakes or any flaked grain, cardamom, cacao nibs, powdered ginger, pumpkin seeds

This is great with homemade almond milk.

You can cook steel cut oats in a Crockpot! I like them a lot, but the make a mess when they boil over on the stove top.  With the slow cooker you turn it on before you go to bed and in the morning you have breakfast waiting for you.  They don't boil over either.

1 C steel cut oats
4 C water
cook on low for 8 hours

flavorings: raisins, cinnamon, brown sugar
I also like to add strained almond pulp from making almond milk.  (I freeze it to be used later.)

If you live in Portland Bob's Red Mill Store is a great resource.  I bought whole oat groats (the entire grain, not cut into pieces or rolled) there which were great in the slow cooker. 


Las Pozas de Edward James in Xilitla, Mexico

Las Pozas is a surrealist sculpture garden built in the 60s and 70s by the English art patron Edward James.  It's way off the beaten path in a remote region of northeastern Mexico called the Huasteca, which is known for its waterfalls and cloud forest jungle. Though geographically close to major Mexican cities and the US border, this area remains very isolated, probably due to the fact that all of the roads that lead here are terrible.  Driving here was like going back in time.  On our way there, in many places we saw more donkeys on the road than cars.

Spending the day walking around Las Pozas was such an amazing experience.  It's a massive site with hundreds of imaginative and unexpected cement structures like stairs that spiral up into the air, multi storied towers, and winding pathways.  It's all built next to a series of waterfalls and turquoise pools for swimming.  Edward James's wish was to allow it to disintegrate, and it's being slowly eaten by the jungle. Quite a bit was already crumbling in 2007 when I was there.  I believe since our visit that it's been purchased by the Mexican govornment.  (Fondo Xilitla is foundation that currently manages the site. Here's another article about preservation efforts.)


Las Pozas is outside of the hilltop village Xilitla, where we stayed at the fantastic hotel El Castillo, former home Las Pozas's architect.  It's filled with architectural oddities like a pool shaped like an eye and cement hands "holding up" the ceilings. The room we stayed in had gothic cathedral windows with a view of the lush surrounding mountains.

The Huasteca region is also home to many natural wonders like massive waterfalls, underground rivers, and caves, and beautiful wildlife.  You can visit El Sotano de las Goladrinas, one of the deepest pits in the world.  I'd recommend hiring a guide because we missed some cool things here just because we couldn't find them.  Traveling in Mexico made me understand infrastructure I take for granted as an American.

This was my souvenir from Xilitla, a passionflower vine.  It's taking over a corner of our living room.  I got the seeds from a delicious agua fresca there.  I had them for several years here in Portland before trying to germinate any.  The plant is several years old now.  Luckly two sprouted because to fruit they can't self pollinate.  This hasn't bloomed for me yet, but I'm still hopeful.  Passionflowers have to be the most beautiful and strange flowers on earth.  They come on lots of different colors, and I wonder what these will be.

other posts about our trip:

some other great Las Pozas pics: