I have had so many requests for the promised school-day oatmeal recipe that I am forced to follow through. Oh, the promises I make!
So, in our family, we like to start the day with hot oatmeal. Actually… It’s me, Mean Mommy, who has decided this. I refuse to buy cold cereal except on special occasions (and even then, my poor kids are forced to get excited about Jordan’s Supreme Muesli.)
Being a chef and all, I can make porridge taste pretty exciting, i.e. Three Bears Porridge. However (being a chef and all) I will only make porridge with quality ingredients: old-fashioned large flake oats or bust. I don’t care if the large-flake oats take longer to cook. Quick oats just taste gross.
This kind of high food standard can be crazy-making when you are also a mom whose children need to get to school before recess. So, over the years, I have devised a “quick & dirty” oatmeal method for weekdays, still using old-fashioned oats.
The School Day Oatmeal Method requires one small, small change in your morning routine. Instead of putting the coffee on first, put it on second, right after the oats… Wait! Come back! It will be OK, I promise. You will still get your coffee on time. Really, really. And everyone will have a great breakfast, too.
So here is our oatmeal technique, made fresh this morning:
Add anywhere from 3 to 4 -1/2 cups of water. The amount of water depends on how soft you like your porridge: extra creamy, or more rice-like? (This is a constant battle between me and my worse half, the winner being the one who gets up first and starts the oatmeal. Unfortunately, my desire for soft creamy porridge is rarely stronger than my antipathy to getting out of bed before Mr. Early Bird.)
HINT: Sometimes, I soak the oats in their cooking water in the pot over-night and then bring it all to a boil in the morning. This saves an extra step at the bleariest time of the day and makes the oats cook more quickly, too. However, I don’t do this often because of the on-going Oatmeal Texture Battle (see above) – it’s not fair to Hubby, who really, really doesn’t like how creamy the oats get this way.
(Here comes the part about why the oatmeal must be put on first thing.) Put a lid on to cover the oatmeal tightly and let sit, undisturbed, for about 15 to 20 minutes. That is why. The oatmeal can come to a boil while we are making coffee/tea. And then it can sit and thicken up while we start on school lunches, or start chopping fruit and nuts for the porridge toppings.
Writing this out, I realize this method is not “quick” at all, and hardly “dirty.” What makes this School Day Oatmeal Method different from a lazy weekend method is #1 the timing (putting the oats on before anything else happens) and #2 the non-burning assurance (letting the oats cook in their own heat with the element turned OFF).
So, not quick and dirty, but still worth it.
But then, I really like oatmeal.
But then, I always use really tasty old-fashioned oats and then add fruit and honey and stuff to it. And so it tastes good. And it’s cheap, filling and nutritious. Which you can’t say about damned cold cereal.