This is Eddie, my new best friend. Yeah, I know Eddie is a goat. Nevertheless, she is the star in my kitchen for these overnight oats made with her super-fresh, super-healthy, super-local milk.
My recipe is inspired not only by Eddie but by Eddie’s caretaker; Sally Burgess has been a regular green gal guest chef, rolling out her Energy Recovery Balls for all to share, and has been featured for her woman-owned business Studio Gaia, a local Yoga venue now located at the Center for Spirituality and Sustainability (Fuller Dome) on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Sally has raised goats for years on her small farm outside Edwardsville, IL. She has always talked about the amazing taste, freshness and excellent nutritional profile of goat milk, and with Eddie recently joining the family, I was anxious to finally try goat milk and develop a recipe for it. I also got to spend quality time with Eddie, which was a bonus just as sweet as her milk. See the end of the post for more about goat milk nutrition, environmental sustainability and Sally’s heartfelt ideas on supporting sustainable global agriculture. It is a real lift in troubled times!
I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting with goat milk—I was thinking sort of gamey and strong. I was so wrong! Eddie’s milk is sweet and light and unbelievably versatile. I’ve had it in coffee, on granola and, of course, in these oats. The overnight oats, by the way, are not only delicious but also quick and easy to prepare–great for busy school and work mornings when nutrition is so necessary, and time is so nonexistent. Takes about 20 minutes the night before and….you’re done! Be sure to check after the recipe below for tips on “oats your way” because there are only suggestions here not rules. Be brave!
Milking pails ready…..
The real beauty of any overnight oat recipe is twofold—you get to choose the ingredients you like and you end up with a nutritious breakfast that is quicker, tastier and greener than a drive-through “happy” meal or a processed donut.
You need oats, of course. I use Bob’s Red Mill Certified Organic Gluten-Free Oats because my daughter is gluten intolerant, and besides BRM oats are very nice. But you can use bulk oats or whatever works for you. The only rule is that they must be old-fashioned oats, not quick oats, which would go to absolute mush by morning.
You need milk, too. And if you have goat farmers at your farmers market, see if you can order some fresh raw goat milk from them. It is simply delicious, easier to digest than cow’s milk, will have a smaller carbon footprint that other milks—even nut milks—and supports your local farmers. If this isn’t an option, you can try a fresh commercial goat milk, cow’s milk, coconut milk, nut milk and soy milk. Milk of some sort is the only requirement.
The fruit I chose was based on what was at my farmers market from my friends at Friedel Family Farm. So seasonal fruit at its ripest is best. If you want to include apples, I suggest grating them in the processor before adding other ingredients—making nearly a chunky applesauce because the flavors will marry better, I think. I do not recommend watery fruit such as melon. I add berries whole, either at night before refrigerating or in the morning just before serving. Although, some kids might really like pureed purple oatmeal! I do suggest peeling fruits like peaches and plums, as their skins can add texture and tang you might not want. If you want more or less fruit, it’s up to you!
Salt, sugar and spices are totally your call—whatever the family favorites. And nuts, too. Leave them out if you wish or change them up according to preference.
Wisdom from My Goat Guru
Sally and I see each other a lot because we both do the good trouble at Sierra Club—Sally as a staff organizer and me as a volunteer. We also connect with other amazing friends through our own little organization Confluence Climate Collaborative, another venue for good trouble and good times—like book clubs and study groups! And, I take classes at Studio Gaia’s new home at the Center, too, so Sally and I pass each other frequently. In our goat milk discussion, we talked a lot about cooking, but we touched on some larger issues of global food insecurity, industrial agriculture’s huge negative impact on climate change, and on the joy and peace that comes from caring for the Earth’s creatures, like Eddie.
To begin, I wondered how Sally ever got started as a goat herder. I found her journey went in a sort of roundabout direction, as many life-changing journeys do: “In our early years of marriage I found myself perpetually concerned about [my husband George’s] consumption of commercial, pasteurized, milk. He drank so much milk! And he was always congested,” she said. Smiling, she noted, “I would locate him when we were out shopping by listening for the guy who was constantly clearing his throat.” So Sally decided to try some fresh goat milk that a friend offered, and they both fell in love with it. “It was lighter than cow’s milk and sweeter,” Sally explained
Goat milk is also said to be easier to digest than cow’s milk and has fewer allergens. It’s an excellent source of calcium and other minerals. According to Sally, she noticed a difference in George’s congestion within about a week, which is pretty amazing. You can learn more about goat milk nutrition from this article by Dr. Axe.
Eventually that friend offered to gift Sally and George a Nubian nanny goat, which they gladly accepted. “What we didn’t know,” Sally explained, “was that Jilly Bean HATED to be milked! So we eventually bought a mild-mannered Lamancha about 11-years ago, and we’ve loved the goats and the milk ever since.” Sally’s Lamancha was named Sweet Pea, and Sally still has two of her grandkids (no pun intended). Her only problem, Sally confesses, is that she can no longer find George in a crowd.
Over the years, Sally and George have seamlessly incorporated goats into the system on their small farm. If you have an area with invasive plants like euonymus, poison ivy, and volunteer maples, Sally tells me the goats will enthusiastically help you clear those things out. They like to browse–a few bites of this, a few bites of that. Sally said they are also extremely friendly and affectionate—I agree! (Except for the occasional Jilly Bean, apparently). “We have built-in gardeners, ready to drink delicious milk, and we compost the goat poop and straw and use it in our garden,” said Sally.
“When we had four lactating does, we had plenty of milk to drink and give away, as well as a steady supply of soft herbed cheese. When there was too much to deal with,” Sally recalled, “I would take a luxurious milk bath by adding a quart or two to the tub along with Epsom salts and lavender essential oil. Heaven,” she smiled. “And fabulous for the skin!”
Sally explained that goats breed and multiply pretty easily and for those who are so inclined can be used for meat. However, Sally and George are not so inclined. I must admit, I can’t imagine eating Eddie. But I’ve been a vegetarian by choice for nearly 30 years. And that is a somewhat privileged choice I’ve been making. Because, after all, food security is something I rarely think about in terms of my own survival.
Sally has found her own perspective on global food insecurity and sustainable agriculture, developing it into an ethical personal practice and philosophy over the years, just like her goat herding. Raising goats for Sally, as well as working on a sustainable small farm, has come to be part of not only her food supply but also her environmental and social justice activism:
A few years before we brought goats into our lives, I had the opportunity to spend a week on an organic coffee farm in a rainforest in Nicaragua. We had fresh, warm goat milk available every morning with our coffee, and it seemed as though most families had at least one goat. What I saw looked idyllic–small gardens, a goat or two, trees brimming with fresh mangoes, avocadoes and more. In the evenings there would often be wandering musicians, and families strolling from home to home, visiting. Paradise! Who doesn’t want to live so simply, with fresh food, lively music and community?
The truth, though, is that Nicaragua is one of the poorest nations in the world, and their situation has worsened during the Covid pandemic. So most mornings when I am doing my milking chores, I am thinking about all of the women in the world for whom one or two goats is a significant and precious resource. If I lose a bucket of milk because a fly causes my girl to kick the bucket over, I am going to be just fine. For a woman in Nicaragua or many other areas on Earth, it will mean losing a key source of nourishment for their families.
For this reason and many others, Sally is considering becoming a sustaining member of Heifer International to support their work of helping lift families out of poverty by providing them with farm animals– for instance chickens, cows, and of course goats! The organization does much more than that, and if you do contribute monthly, you’ll receive an awesome goat tote!
So there is much we all can do to make the global community more secure: we can buy as much as we can from our local small farms, and be brave in our food choices–incorporating more sustainable ingredients with less carbon footprint into our food prep–and by supporting organizations like Heifer International—learning about their work and supporting families that are less secure than our own. We can also do one simple, no-cost, no-effort thing: stop wasting food at our own tables. Because Sally is right—imagine that the food going down the disposal was the only food for tomorrow’s meal. Might want to creatively plan those leftovers for the following day, yes? It is this type of thinking—the imagining of a world without that will give us a world with plenty for everyone.
If overnight oats sounds like the answer to this year’s school mornings for you, the possibilities are really endless and they are a great way to use up the last bits of over-ripe fruit, smatterings of nuts and bottom of the jar spice. You can find another Green Gal version on this blog: Organizer Oats—also inspired by Sally—that tastes like chocolate pudding. Also, be sure to check out the Spiced Roasted Plum and Blackberry Galette that features Friedel Family Farm’s amazing summer fruits!
Be well, be brave, be green and simple. Every conscious move we make in the kitchen can lead us closer to a sustainable world.