Oatmeal Is The Canvas, Baby, And Your Wildest Dreams Are The Paint

After yesterday’s heated topic, I figured I should take on something light, something airy and wonderful, which is why I decided to blog about gun control.

Hold for laughter.

I have weird ideas about gun control, and now gun control is this thing trapped in the amber of irony what with the fact that we let potential terrorists buy guns, and popular wisdom says, “Maybe we shouldn’t do that,” but then you have the GOP NRA-types who normally give a high priority to national security and keeping foreign terrorists from blowing things up until you say, “Well, maybe those guys shouldn’t buy guns,” and then the NRA tightens its butthole and starts imagining a slippery slope where suddenly you take guns out of terrorists hands and suddenly the monolithic Big Government is stealing guns from hunters and domestic abusers and babies and gang thugs (you know, those whose gun ownership rights are supported by the Second Amendment), and all of that is fascinating to me (as I am, indeed, a gun owner), so…

What I’m saying is, we should probably talk about oatmeal, instead.

The slogan for oatmeal in America should be:

Oatmeal: Fuck Yeah!

And every time you open a container of oatmeal, that container should let out a rock scream and a guitar chord with drum solo. And white doves should fly out. And then catch fire.

I used to distrust oatmeal. I mean, as a kid I didn’t eat healthy breakfasts all the time. Egg sandwiches are good, and I ate a lot of those, but before school every morning I ate a bowl of Ramen noodles. Not a wise choice, and my mother probably should’ve slapped the fork out of my hand, but hindsight is 20-20.

Oatmeal for me was this bland gluey library paste: a glop of flavorless mush that looked no different from a dissected hunk of scrapple. I mean, texturally, stuff was a challenge for me as a kid. Not sure why that was, but anything with a funky texture did me in. Mushrooms, for instance, were like eating little human ears. Chew, chew, chew, rubber, rubber, cartilage, chew, bleagh. Of course, now I love mushrooms. In fact, nearly all the things I hated as a kid I’m into now, and I wish I could’ve gotten into them sooner.

Texture’s funny for people. You look at someone like Andrew Zimmern of the ever-awesome Bizarre Foods show (Travel Channel), and you see a guy who will eat like, fermented duck fetus still in the shell or a fistful of dung beetles, but he blanches if you put Spam in front of him. Or Jell-o. Anything with that gelatinous texture gives that crazy dude the vapors.

Anyway.

Within the last year or so, I’ve slapped on my hip waders and have stepped deep into a love of the goopy slurry known as oatmeal.

I bounce between the baby-food texture of rolled oats and the awesome pop-betwixt-your-teeth texture of steel-cut. I’ve never tried the… what are the uncut oats called? Groats? Right? Goddamn that’s a horrible name for anything, unless that anything is, say, a cave-dwelling troglodyte. You got an ogre or a troll, you call it a groat. You got food, I guess you cut the “gr-” off it and call it an “-oat.”

I mean, groat. Damn. It sounds like a crotch tumor. “I got a bad groat forming. Feels like a sock full of Superballs coming together. Don’t have health care, so I’m-a burn it off with a propane torch.”

Actually, I remember at Friendly’s they had a fish dinner called a “scrod,” and sometimes they had a “scrod boat platter.” Scrod? For real? Scrod? And people ate that? Folks, branding matters. Scrod and Groat could be a pair of troglodyte detectives. One’s an Ogre. The other a Troll! They solve crime. The Scrod and Groat Show. Eventually Groat could yell, “KNEEL BEFORE SCROD!” Scrod is just a whitefish. So call it that.

Eeesh.

I dunno. We were talking about oatmeal (not, thankfully groatmeal).

What I’m saying is, oatmeal. Fuck yeah.

The thing I learned about oatmeal is that it’s like the foundation to a delicious house. I’m sure some people eat oatmeal straight-up. My mother eats it with salt and… I think that’s it. Me, though, I see oatmeal as the canvas. And pretty much every damn ingredient in my house serve as the paints.

Every morning, I can do a different oatmeal breakfast. It’s like a nutrient-delivery-system. I wondered how I could easily get more fruit in my diet? Wham! Oatmeal, fuckers! (Which is different than oatmeal-fuckers.) Maybe berries? Or a little grated apple or pear? Craisins or raisins? Boom. Do I need some extra sweetening? A bit of honey, maybe? Or real maple syrup (never that fake-ass shit)? A spoonful of jam? A dab of brown sugar and cinnamon? What about the dairy? Yes to dairy? A little milk? Heavy cream? Butter? Or rather, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk? Howzabout some texture? Granola? Crushed nuts? (Heh, nuts.) (Shut up.) Heck, you can cook steel-cut oats then toast a spoonful of oats after, and put the uncooked oats atop the cooked oats for a goddamn crunchgasm betwixt your teefuses.

It’s like, I just bought some ginger jam the other day.

Does that have room in my oatmeal?

Or, I look at Indian-style rice pudding, with the fragrant cardamom and what-not — what if I let cardamom and coconut milk make sweet love in my oatmeal? I bet that’d be delicious.

Your turn.

Tell me of your oatmeal exploits.

What do you put in your oatmeal? Hell, let’s all think outside the oatmeal box. What haven’t you tried that might be good? Get creative. Let’s go nuts. Let’s all take off our pants and run around. Eeeee!

37 comments

  • Oh, and let me be clear: I’m eating oatmeal *right now.*

    Also: do not microwave it.

    Stove-top only.

    Why?

    Well, there exists some evidence that microwaving destroys essential nutrients.

    Also: stove-top allows you to control the cooking and the texture. Microwaving is like cooking with a hammer. Or, y’know, radiation.

    — c.

  • Odd little factoid that came from child behavior courses, specifically on eating habits. Our taste buds aren’t fully developed until we hit our teen years, so the way things taste to a child aren’t necessarily how they taste to us. This is why a lot of adults say things like “I hated it when I was a kid, but now if I don’t have oysters smeared all over my body I’ll just go crazy. Crazy, I tell you. Get me some motherfucking tabasco.”

    I used to a lot of semi-professional cooking in Santa Fe (ie, Denny’s, Carrows, that sort of thing) until I landed a job at a very unique place called the Shed. I didn’t work there long, just over the summer until I decided to hitch to New York City (totally different story), but while I was there I learned how to cook in some of the weirdest ways conceivable. One of the things the owner decided to make one month; apple-green chili caramel oatmeal. That was such a hit, it spawned other versions, all with the ideal of green chile at its core. Mango-chile. Roasted pinon, honey-dipped pear, and chile. All sorts of new and interesting ways to make the oats different from what you got at the store.

    I love me some oatmeal, but I could never really stomach any of the kinds we made aside from the pinon and pear. That shit was the fucking bomb.

    • @Rick:

      You obviously have a much more fascinating life than I had anticipated. I DEMAND A BLOG POST! *clap, clap*

      Ahem.

      Pinon and pear, sounds awesome.

      The… chile-caramel? Not sure. Was it savory? Sweet? Both? I haven’t yet gotten into savory oatmeal constructions, though I could see it happening.

      It’s true, you’re right, that our taste buds don’t develop until later. In fact, as I understand it, younger children are likelier to eat weirder food than pre-teens — something about how kids become more restrictive as they grow older.

      Problem is, sometimes the mind-set stays. I can’t tell you how many grown men I’ve met that won’t eat a goddamn vegetable. (Then again, that’s a whole other rant: the man-child syndrome.)

      What’s weird to me is, kids don’t like to eat certain foods, but what did they do 100 years ago? Before microwaves, before hot dogs and chicken fingers and chocolate milk?

      — c.

  • I love me my Irish-style steel-cut oats, I do. Just a sprinkle of salt and a glug of (real NH) maple syrup.

    But, this is a crazy world that makes me be up and pretending to be awake before 7am, and so I also buy the instant oatmeal packets. Quaker had a decent one, in little plastic packets — that’s how you know they’re fancy and good for you — marketed as less sweet and more good for you. Apparently not well-marketed, as I cannot remember the name. I dump them in a bowl and fill the bowl with hot water from the Keurig machine, making it on cold mornings the magical machine that both provides me with both COFFEE and nutrition. Truly a miracle of modern science.

    • Simply Something-or-other? Did those. I’m not against instant oatmeal, and that version you’re talking about didn’t have any funky processing, at least on the label.

      — c.

  • I don’t know if I want to blog about food; a lot of the things I made are only half remembered, and it might tempt me attempt being a cook again. While I love cooking, I hate *HATE* being a cook.

    Anyway, keep in mind this is roasted green chile, not red or chili powder. Have you ever had any? It’s a bit more savory that the hotter red, very flavorful and very, very good. If you ever happen to find yourself in Santa Fe (a place I think you would love), try it – especially green chile ice cream. Amazing.

    • @Rick:

      Come now, I’ve had “green chile.” (I think here the New Mexico variety is an Anaheim.)

      Chiles are just peppers. Chili is a dish.

      Santa Fe is a great town — my aunt lives there. Haven’t been in years, though.

      Anywho — what I meant re: blog post was the interesting story (i.e. you’ve been all over, you hitched a ride to NYC, etc.) Less about the actual cooking.

      — c.

  • Joemeal… Yeah. Really, it’s good, promise.

    I use instant oatmeal because I end up making it at werk. Had my coffee in one hand, boiling cup of water for my oatmeal in the other. And of course poured my oatmeal in the coffee.

    I was pretty repulsed by the idea at first. Dumped it out, started over. But, it got me thinking… So like a week later, combined the two on purpose. The coffee is hot as hell so it boils the oats just the same. Add your normal amount of coffee sweetner, and you sir have just killed two birds with one delicious stone.

    Maple Brown Sugar oatmeal. Great. Cinnanom. Thumbs Up. Pretty much any kind of instant oatmeal that isn’t a fruit kind and you are good to go.

    Joemeal. You heard it here first.

  • Oh, I getcha now. Yeah, I spent about four years or so after high school just picking up and moving or hitching across the country whenever I felt like it. I was perpetually broke, but had a lot of good times.

    Sorry if the chile thing came off as me sounding like an asshat. I get so many blank stares when I mention green chile, it’s just second nature now.

    • …crumbled up bits of real bacon…

      Oh. Oh! Yes.

      Gotta do this soon.

      I can see replacing the brown sugar with maple, too — maple and bacon, friends forever.

      — c.

  • You can take my duck fetus when you pry me from its cold, dead deliciousness.

    Which reminds me, steel cut oats would be awesome if they didn’t also not taste like oatmeal. I’m a quick oats microwave dude. Yeah, I said it, Alton Brown.

  • @Joshua — Great minds think alike, right? :)

    @ Chuck — Simple Harvest!

    Oh, and forget that whole maple syrup thing. Milking trees is for saps. From now on, I’m going to be adding bacon syrup to my oatmeal.

  • O.k., do not Ewwwww me on this one….trust…me….

    Oatmeal, spring (green) onions and soya sauce….this is awesome!!!!!!! I get hooked on this for days at times….try it!

  • You have to try them savoury.

    I get Bob’s old fashioned or extra thick organic oatmeal and microwave it (1/3 cup oats, 1 cup water, a pinch of salt) for 3 minutes, stir, and nuke for 3 more minutes. That avoids the glycemic hit of the instant oats. It’s not stove-top (which is awesome), but it takes a lot less time.

    When I have the time, like @Heather, I’ll crumble real bacon into my oatmeal. Though the green onions and soy sauce sounds awesome, @Tina. I’ve got to try that really, really soon!

  • I eat oatmeal pretty much every morning M-F. My love for oatmeal only intensifies each day.

    Since I eat them at work I have to do the microwave (though, I agree, stovetop is best). The key is to lower the power. Ya know, the whole low and slow cooking method that makes almost anything better. Power = 50% for 4-5 minutes.

    And yeah, Bob’s Red Mill all the way. I usually nom his old-fashioned rolled oats.

    I typically go with the fruit, nuts, sweet stuff toppings. Some of these savory ideas are intriguing, though!

    Also, try them overnight in the frig. Put a bowl in there with your oats and milk/water/yogurt. Sit over night and in the morning you’ll have a lovely cool, creamy bowl of oats. Great during the middle of summer when you could cook the oats on the back porch because it’s so f’in hot. *fist shake Houston*

    Here’s a great link with some overnight oats examples: http://www.katheats.com/favorite-foods/overnightoats/

  • I *heart* oatmeal. I put fruit in it – blueberries, bananas, raspberries, strawberries. mmm, mmm. maple syrup. honey. brown sugar. mmm. mmm. rice milk. whole milk. 2% milk. mmm. mmm. mmm.

    but one of my favorite things to do is slow cook it. around 10pm through midnightish – 8 cups water. 2 cups irish-style steel cut oats. some dried fruit…apricots, cranberries, raisins… turn on low. go to sleep, then BAM – it’s morning. and MMM, what is that smell? oh, it’s breakfast! i do this every thanksgiving eve. my favorite way to start the foodfest holiday.

    • Heh.

      Yeah, @K — definitely get yourself some steel cut. Farkin’ dee-leesh. Takes a while, but the crockpot helps this.

      @Liz: Oh! Rice milk. Duh. I bet that’s fantastic.

      @Michelle: Man, overnight *cold* oats — no kidding.

      @Everybody else: You rule.

      I love when I post on this site, and you people really bring the awesome.

      — c.

  • Mix raw eggs in when you’re boiling the oats.
    Add vanilla. The real stuff.
    Sprinkle with brown sugar.
    Voila. Simple yet hardy.

  • Secret number one: Fresh peanut butter.

    Secret number two: A touch of molasses.

    Secret number three: Pomegranate seeds.

    Secret number four: Walnuts and brown sugar.

    Secret number five: Fried apples.

    • Ohhhh. Very nice.

      All together, @David? Separate? Mix and match?

      I wish I could find the pomegranate arils. And poms aren’t in season. Sad face.

      Could’ve had a Durian Milkshake last week, though.

      — c.

  • I would do them separately. However, omit the peanut butter and chop the apples up to the point where they’re comparable in size to the others, and you’ve got a really strong mix. Just don’t overdo the molasses.

    Alas. Pomegranates are kind of hard to find, outside of their little window. You can use dried cranberries in their place though.

  • Mr. Chuck I’ve been reading your blog for awile, I liked the cat one.

    This oatmeal blog broke my brain.

    bacon + egg + coffee + oatmeal = THE FUTURE IS NOW like Epcot.

  • I like adding a touch of sweetened condensed milk, and then playing. with combos like minced fig and walnuts, or sliced strawberries and mint.
    Then there was the time I added scoops of Nutella. Oh yes.
    Also hot cherry pie filling and vanilla ice cream, but that’s really pushing oatmeal into straight up dessert with no pretending anymore.

  • I’m still a bit baffled by people mentioning *water*. Making oatmeal with water would have never in a million years occured to me.

    Then, I grew up on a dairy farm. There’s very little we do with water that we can’t do with milk.

    I tried those ‘steel cut’ oatmeals, by the by, Chuck! With sliced strawberries. You’re right…much less mushy! Hrm, we’ll see if I can’t get used to this.

  • My big thing right now is oatmeal with cinnamon, nutmeg and raisins, sweetened with honey. I’ve also been playing around with tea and soy milk, but that’s another story.

  • Oh, man, I love oatmeal (porridge). Love love love love it. I’m a bit embarrassed at how long I could talk about this topic, but I feel like I’m among the like-minded here.

    Top marks, all time favourites: shredded apple and chopped dates; or chopped pear and glace ginger (your ginger jam TOTALLY has a place in porridge/oatmeal, dude). I prefer my oats fruity rather than sweet, so I don’t usually add sugar or syrup or anything like that.

    Highly recommended: stewed peaches or cherries or rhubarb or, hell, any fruit you can get hold of, plus nuts or any dried fruit. I’ve tried pomegranate, but I found the flavour didn’t really spread enough through the rest of the oats, so maybe I need something else with it — pomegranate and cranberries, maybe?

    Want to show off? Swirl in a couple of spoonfuls of Nutella and some chopped nuts. Oh yes.

    A friend of mine says her mum has oats with cream and whiskey every morning. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to add the whiskey during the cooking phase or after, so I just put the bottle on the table and let folks serve themselves. Livens up the drive to work no end. (Seriously, I assume you simmer the whiskey into the oats and thereby try to cook off the alcohol, but I’m yet to try it. Sounds good, though.)

  • Take oats, put water on them, put into microwave (what? I’m lazy in the morning…). When microwaved and stirred a bit for improving texture, add a generous dollop of jam (it could be apple sauce, it could be strawberry jam, it could be the cloudberry jam your grandmother made, handmade is best, do not trust stores). Then, add some milk. Eat it. Omnomnom. This is how we do it in Sweden.

    You could also add fresh ginger, it’s spicy enough to wake you up. Cinnamon is good too. For bonus tastiness, buy one of those small bags of “gingerbread spices” (mixed spices one uses when making gingerbread, surely Americans have those too?) and use it, it will taste like Christmas. Sugar is good too.

Speak Your Mind, Word-Nerds