Stewed dried fruits for breakfast

For most of my life I didn’t eat breakfast. Ever since I was a tiny little girl, eating too early in the morning made me feel sick. So for umpteen years, mid-morning snack at daycare or school was my first meal of the day.

Things only changed when I was 19 and went off to university. I was on one of those all-you-can-eat meal plans, you know the ones where you pay a yearly fee and eat to your heart’s content? (Amazingly enough, I am the only person I know who lost the frosh 15 rather than gaining it.) Now I’m nothing if not frugal, and I couldn’t bear the thought of not getting my money’s worth (okay, my parents’ money’s worth) at the cafeteria. And that meant I had to eat every meal. Including breakfast. Every single day. Pretty soon I had trained myself to eat a full breakfast before an 8:30 lecture and love it.

Now that I don’t have to be at any 8:30 lectures, I’ve reverted to eating breakfast late. At 9:45am, Monday to Friday, I go down to the little corner of paradise that is our office canteen and get one medium Americano – to which I must add my own milk so that it’s just the right amount – and two pieces of brown toast, toasted very well, with peanut butter and jam. Every day. Like many breakfasters, I am a creature of habit.

But sometimes I get restless. I feel like I need to do something a little wild. And that’s when I throw caution to the wind and have oatmeal. Or granola. Or even fruit. That crazy feeling came over me on Easter Monday when I was getting ready for the week ahead. I just wasn’t looking forward to tomorrow’s PBJ toast.

Not being partial to the canteen’s full English cooked breakfasts – mine is the world’s only workplace where you see people wandering the halls with eggs and bacon – I looked around for something portable that I could take with me. Knowing I had an abundance of prunes and apricots on my hands, I remembered that I had seen somewhere recently a recipe for stewed dried fruit.

Since I didn’t have said recipe, I made it up as I went along. I dumped about 2 cups of dried fruit into a large saucepan with half a cinnamon stick and half an old vanilla bean with some seeds left in it. I added the zest of half a lemon, a big spoonful of honey and couple of cloves, and simmered gently for about 15 minutes.

Hey presto, I had a fruit compote. Eaten warm with a good sprinkling of homemade granola and a big dollop of Greek yogurt, this was a very filling breakfast. I took it to work in a tub and ate it for the next few days, until I finished the batch and went back to toast.

Stewed Dried Fruits

Because dried fruit is calorific, a little of this breakfast goes a long way. Serve with cereal and thick plain or Greek yogurt.

2 cups mixed dried fruit (apricots, prunes, cherries, apple, figs, mango, pears)
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
1/2 vanilla pod, split, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp honey
grated zest of half a lemon

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and add cold water, just to cover the fruit. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, and cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Top up with more water if necessary.

Remove the cinnamon stick, cloves and vanilla pod. Allow to cool slightly before serving.