Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe: The occasional recipe: oatmeal

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Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

The occasional recipe: oatmeal

Friday, January 22, 2010

It’s been a bad week. From truly disastrous news about Haiti and desperately ill friends to the minor annoyance of a cold. And, of course, I’ve yet to climb out of the slough of despond caused by now having a senator who is pretty much anti-everything except guns, trucks, and waterboarding. Ya-hoo.

Just one remedy: let’s make a bowl of hot oatmeal and curl up with a good book. This sounds a little pathetic, but trust me on this. The oatmeal I am proposing here is not the old favorite rolled oats, quick or old-fashioned. That’s still fine and indispensable for making cookies. But I’d like to suggest a game-changer in the oatmeal department--steel cut. I’m a recent convert, so of course I want everyone to know about this. You may already know, in which case why didn’t you tell me?

Steel cut oatmeal is to rolled oats as a good French baguette is to Wonder bread. You still want the sliced white sometimes for grilled cheese sandwiches to have with your tomato soup. But the baguette is the staff of a whole different life. Likewise steel-cut oatmeal. It’s chewy and nutty and so delicious that I’ve just been throwing in some raisins or a precious few from my frozen stash of last summer’s Maine blueberries and not bothering with the brown sugar, maple syrup, or other additive possibilities. Okay, it does take 30 minutes to cook, but--and this is how it’s revolutionized my mornings--you can cook up a batch, keep in the refrigerator, and take out a serving at a time all week. You just zap it in the microwave for two minutes and--ta-da--breakfast! Or lunch or even a lazy-night supper.

The whole recipe is this: a two to one ratio of water to oats (that’s what it says in real recipes, but I often add a little more water--you can figure it out for yourself.) Some people cook it in milk or half milk, half water. I’m sure that’s delicious, but I just use water. A little salt. Then thirty minutes on the stove with occasional stirring involved. And you’ve got it.

It’s hearty and nutritious and it makes you feel as if at least one thing is going right first thing in the morning. Try it and let me know.


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Blogger Mim said...

I'm with you on oatmeal, Ellen, and eat it most mornings, steel cut. I just bring water to boil, add oatmeal, cover let stand, and keep a week's worth in the fridge, and heat a bowl in the micro when needed. Sometimes I have it with salt, pepper, and a little butter.

Brown won't get me down, but I'm still stunned.

January 22, 2010 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Ellen Steinbaum said...

Cover and let stand instead of simmering and stirring? I'll have to try that--thanks!

January 22, 2010 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger David said...

Quick Soak Method
One of the quickest and easiest ways to prepare McCann's Steel Cut Oats is to soak the oats overnight. Before going to bed, boil four cups of water in a pot, add one cup of oatmeal. Simmer 1 minute. Cover pot and store overnight in refrigerator. The next morning cook the oatmeal on low for 9 – 12 minutes; stirring occasionally.

January 27, 2010 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger David said...

The suggestions above from McCann's steel-cut oats website, here:

January 27, 2010 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Ellen Steinbaum said...

Wow--this is amazing. Thank you, David. So many oatmeal lovrs--who knew? Here's one more cooking method from my friend Faith, who says this: I am also a steel cut nut---I discovered it last year, and nothing else will do. But I've discovered a few short cuts that actually make it even less sticky than cooking for 30 minutes.Put 1/4 cup dry in a VERY deep bowl----like a small mixmaster bowl, I'm not kidding, or it will boil over. (Put a plastic lid from a take out container under the bowl (in case it boils over you won't have to clean the entire microwave). Add 1 cup water plus a smidgen more. Set Microwave on hi power for 6 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons wheat germ (it kicks up the protein) and 1/4 cup more water. Micro for 2 minutes.
You're done. Let it sit as long as you need while you do other things----because it is hot. So, while it takes 8 minutes to make, you don't have to stand there. It isn't sticky in the slightest and it is
delicious. Some add dried or frozen fruit or nuts but I love it plain. It has become my comfort food, and I never once had oatmeal growing up!

January 27, 2010 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger David said...

More oatmeal tips - add a bit of variety with: dried cranberries (zest); chopped almonds (crunch); raisins (sweetness); butter (richness); maple syrup or brown sugar (sweetness); or banana slices.

January 27, 2010 at 1:49 PM  

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