Savory Miso Oatmeal

Savory Miso Oatmeal | bettysliu.comHello friends. It’s been a heavy week for a lot of us, but I’ve found strength in community, in the actions of strong women and men, in hope and unity that leads me to cautiously believe in a brighter future. This week I’ll be retreating to the depths of Big Sur with a group of lovely ladies and talk about what we can do while healing with food and camaraderie (and making Savory Miso Oatmeal) Next week, a rather amazing group of bloggers and me will share our thoughts and how much we cherish the immigration values that America has always stood for.
I’ve found healing in creating food, and as always, food has, more than ever, become an outlet where I can express all my feelings. This past weekend I chose not to use my stand mixer to make bread, and instead just kneaded into it, the old fashioned way. My arms screamed afterward but I felt satisfied.

As I sit here writing this, I’m eating this oatmeal. It’s literally been my go-to breakfast since I whipped it up for the first time. It’s easy, takes 20 minutes to make in the kitchen, and it’s so delicious that I served at my workshop in Rhode Island (recap soon), and converted many to savory oatmeal!

I never really liked sweet oatmeal. Alex loves his apple and cinnamon, but I don’t know – I just didn’t have a taste for super sweet oatmeal. I had a run where I loved overnight oats, but more for the convenience of grabbing a mason jar out of the fridge, something I can bring to class for breakfast or lunch. I love a good sweet baked oatmeal, and I will never say no to granola. I see this as a fusion version of congee, which is usually savory, with bits of pork, fermented egg, and pickled greens. Instead of rice, I used a combination of steel cut oats and rolled oats, courtesy of April Bloomfield’s perfect porridge, but cooked in miso water, with good sea salt, and topped with furikake, a Japanese rice seasoning, and a poached egg! Seeds if you like. This is so simple and based more on proportions that I feel weird calling it a recipe, but, you all asked, so here you go! After making this 1-2 times, you’ll be like, psh – I can make this with NO RECIPE!

Savory Miso Oatmeal |

I never got around to making my 2016 reflection post. It’s something I strongly believe in, as a way of learning from the past and to allow myself to set intentions going forth. I used to diligently write down specific resolutions, but after several years of failing to keep any resolution, I’ve decided not to set myself up for failure for 2017. Instead, I’m thinking of intentions, goals for the next year.

2016 was a rollercoaster. Professionally, 2016 was a wonderful year. I feel like I finally found my voice in terms of photography, and I worked with some brands that I absolutely love. I hosted 4 workshops, worked with comrades I admire and respect, and met some amazing people I can now consider true friends. Instagram featured my stop-motion videos twice, and I published a tutorial that equipped many to make their own videos. In disbelief, I was nominated thanks to you for Saveur’s best photography award. This led to more connections and friendships that I am so grateful for. My wedding business flourished, bringing us all over New England, as well as Canada and California, and then one of my dreams was checked off: we photographed a destination proposal in Iceland. We had our best season yet, and are booking happily for 2017/18 now. This was a year of travel and adventure. We visited Iceland twice – once in the winter for pleasure, and then the second time for the aforementioned engagement, during which we travelled the whole ring road and experienced Iceland in autumn (photo essay to come).

I’m so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had and all the connections I’ve made, and I am proud of what I’ve done with this blog, but I also know this has to change. I was balancing food blogging / photography, a full-time wedding photography load (thank god for Alex) and medical school, and I often get asked – how do you do this? Here’s the hard truth I’ve had to face: I don’t. Behind the scenes of pretty food and scenes is chaos. I fell sick several times (and even shot a wedding with a fever once, gulping tylenol through the day, and another time erupted in whole-body hives and fought to shoot through a benadryl haze) and felt more burnt out creatively than I’d ever had before. As a result, my social life suffered. My health suffered. My day-to-day life was packed with meetings, projects, to the point that if I lounged around on the couch not working, I’d feel anxious and unsettled, sure that I have something to do. My life revolved around planning recipes. Recipes take extensive testing, then photographing them takes a whole day. The problem is I’ve always been a “say-yes” person, and I get so excited for collaborations and projects, and I just want to do it, even if it means sacrificing me-time.

My intention for 2017 is clear. Instead of my life revolving around recipes, I’m going make recipes that revolve around my life. 

I’m not giving up blogging, or my passion for photography. I need a creative outlet to keep me fulfilled and happy, to balance out the other sides of my life. I love photographing weddings with Alex – it’s rewarding to photograph with the partner of my life, more than I can explain. When I first started, I thought I would be the only one referring to it, as it was a way to document some of my mom’s recipes and my kitchen experimentations. It was a fun, creative outlet. It’s since opened up so many opportunities to work with wonderful brands, and that’s been a journey in itself. Since I started blogging I’ve held myself to blogging once a week, and I feel that I owe it to all of you, my dear readers and supporters, to let you know that I’m likely cutting back in 2017. The pressures of keeping up the numbers and doing once a week has changed the original intent of this space, and I want to rediscover that in 2017. I’m continuing to work with some of the brands I love, but I’m limiting myself and being more selective. The problem is, my mind goes on and on and I constantly am jotting down new recipe ideas in my nifty notebook that I am just dying to create and share with you if successful, but I’m going to make a real effort to relax a little, and make it fun for me again.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for your continued support of this blog. I am so excited when you comment or email, and I always welcome hello emails. Thank you. You’ve made this blog more than I ever dreamed it would be. Here’s to a wonderful 2017!

Savory Miso Oatmeal |

ceramic bowl – Myrth ceramics / linen – rough linen / pan – finex

RECIPE: Savory Miso Oatmeal / Porridge

to serve 2-3

1/2 cup steel cut oats
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 tbsp miso paste
1 tsp good sea salt (I use Maldon sea salt)
furikake, salted seeds, poached egg, to top
3 cups water

The ratio of oats to water is 1:3, and the oats is divided into a combination of steel cut and rolled, to give it a chewy but creamy texture. It’s truly genius, and all credited to April.

Heat up water until it is boiling. Add in oats and stir in 1 tbsp miso paste. Turn heat to low. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until it is creamy but chewy – adjust to your preference. Add in salt and adjust.

Top with furikake, salted seeds, and a perfectly poached egg! Enjoy!



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  • I’ve never actually tried savory oats, but this recipe has seriously piqued my interest! I’ve always been a sweet oatmeal kind of girl, but I’ll have to give this a try.

    And thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on the previous year, the year to come, and the current state of things. I also find it so helpful to look back at the previous year, see what was successful and what was not so, and look forward with intention. Not necessarily setting resolutions, but setting your sights on where you want to go.

    I’m totally blown away that you could maintain a photography business, school, and blogging. Sometimes I find that when I push myself to do a lot, the hardest thing about cutting back is giving myself permission to — like, now that I’ve shown I *can* do the impossible, that’s where the bar is set. In case you feel that way too, I just want to say, you *totally have permission* to relax and give yourself the space you need. And I don’t mean *I* give you permission, because that’s weird… I just mean, you deserve to take all the me-time you need. :)

    Here’s to a happy, successful, fulfilling, and relaxed 2017!ReplyCancel

  • I love so much savory porridge that I even add one recipe for it in my cookbook – cooked with miso and topped with mushrooms. A few months ago savory oats were my everyday lunch!
    I totally agree with your “I’m going make recipes that revolve around my life”. It’s the same thing I’m thinking for when my new blog will be ready. No more “I have to cook this for the blog”.

  • i’m excited to see what you guys have to say. i wish you didn’t have to, but i commend you regardless.

    cheers to more creativity, more balance. self-care is important, but especially now.ReplyCancel

  • This post is beautiful and so heartfelt, Betty. I can’t believe how much you have going on! I think it’s 100 percent fantastic for you to downshift and refocus your creative energies in the coming year. I know the results will be stunning.ReplyCancel

  • I just read your post to my hubby & he said emphatically “PERFECT” and that he was very happy for you that you have found this & I wholeheartedly agree with him. Thank you for candidly sharing your heart, we greatly appreciate it, it was very beautiful. 2017 will be the best year yet <3ReplyCancel

  • Miso, oatmeal, poached eggs…. – lots of my favorite ingredients. I’ll try this soon, thank you!

    My husband and I just went to Big Sur last weekend. You probably already know about it, but the restaurant Nepenthe is worth going to – not necessarily for the food, but for breathing in the healing view and fresh air.ReplyCancel

  • Yes, you ABSOLUTELY need to slow down! I don’t know how you did it all!!! I’ve been working on this “slowing down” thing ever since starting my blog, but especially at the beginning of last year after getting hit with a terrible virus for 9 weeks at the end of 2015. Blogging is so rewarding but it’s easy to let it take over your life. Good luck finding the balance, and we’ll be happy to see your new posts and recipes whenever you can find the time. xoxoReplyCancel

  • keren

    i just want to say you are a huge inspiration for me and i’m glad you are going to take care of yourself better this year!!ReplyCancel

  • Seriously still so impressed with all your commitments Betty! I am always blown away by the quality and creativity behind your recipes and photography, and could not tell you were burning out at all. But taking care of yourself first is a must, hope 2017 gives you more time to breathe.

    P.S. As a reader I really enjoy blogs that don’t post weekly or frequently at all, when it pops up on your feed it’s like a fun surprise :)ReplyCancel

  • Really feel you on this one – I still don’t know how you juggle your wedding photography on top of incredible and inspiring blogging and medical school. It’s very impressive! You do need time for yourself, and time to actually have space and enjoy life though – work is only going to get more hectic once you’ve graduated. I’m likely to be doing the same this year – ditching my once a week posts – I’ve been looking at the 8-6pm, 5 days a week timetables for my hospital rotations plus studying for exams and realising it’s just not going to happen, as much as I might want it to. So thank you as well for the reminder that it is okay to slow down a bit.Here’s to 2017 being better than ever! X

    P.S. on another note, I’ve been looking curiously at your miso oatmeal on instagram for a while so will definitely give it a go sometime! I’m an bircher muesli fan usually but miso is pretty tempting haReplyCancel

  • Thank you, Betty, for such an honest and insightful post. I have no doubt that your work will continue to inspire. I always enjoy your original and creative posts. Also, thank you for introducing me to savoury oatmeal- I am indeed a convert!ReplyCancel

  • Oh my goodness Betty, you wrote me thoughts exactly on 2017… I’ll be pairing back to and fully encourage you in doing this! It’s so important to take care of ourselves and be present in real life. I think it will honestly make what we bring to the table here on our platforms that much more rich and passionate. Cannot wait to see you so soon! xxReplyCancel

  • I so so feel you on this! I”ve been trying to balance blogging and full time work, and sometimes it feels like I’m downright losing my mind over all the ‘to-dos’. I’m so happy for you in all the opportunities you’ve had, how exciting! I’m still crossing my fingers that I can make it to one of your workshops this year! xoReplyCancel

  • Oh Betty, I’m so glad to hear that you’ve decided to slow down this year. Taking care of yourself is by far the most important thing you can do. It will be a gift to you, but also to your readers and clients, because everything you’ll bring to the table will be so much more meaningful. I’m so grateful to have met you this past year, and I hope to see you again very soon. Biggest of hugs. xxReplyCancel

  • These words and this dish.. They are all so beautiful. And I have to say, my hat is off to you. I do not know another person to manage a food blog the way you do it while attending medical school. Truly amazing.
    Though I am glad this year you are going to be more intentional in taking care of yourself. Much love my friend.ReplyCancel

  • Count me in as one of those people who are like “what the effff? how do you juggle med school + wedding photography + blogging + workshops?????” You some sort of superstar. I can barely handle having a 10-6 job and posting once a month x_x <– that's a face with x's as eyes, haha. But seriously Betty, you are a force to be reckoned with and though I'll miss seeing your posts so often I'm glad you're putting your health and happiness first.

    Also that poached egg on top of the oatmeal: A++++, looks amazing.ReplyCancel

  • What an incredible savory breakfast bowl! Here’s to 2017…ReplyCancel

  • Can you come over and make this for me? It is like a big hug in a bowl. I am so glad that you are taking a step back to rediscover the creativity and fun that blogging should be.ReplyCancel

  • James Hershey

    May I share with you an oatmeal recipe variation for your consideration.
    Using your exact oatmeal/water ratio, set aside the miso.
    Using a small tea-ball place in it:
    1 bay leaf
    4 or 5 Cardamon pods,
    4 or 5 Allspice pods.
    2 cloves.
    (cinnamon stick) I have included this in the tea-ball. The cinnamon (for me anyway) overwhelms to other spices. including a cinnamon stick is personal preference.

    Cook the oatmeal as you described with tea ball. Once the oatmeal is done set aside the tea-ball and serve with the poached egg.

    To make the oatmeal creamy and rich like dessert, Add three tablespoons of raw cream after the oatmeal is cooked. This addition of cream makes the oatmeal taste like apple pie.ReplyCancel

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