Nature’s Greatest Grain

I never liked the sloppy, bland look of oatmeal as a kid. Having adults hype it to me as a heart-healthy food “that’ll keep you regular” didn’t make me want to try it any more.  A few winters ago, while eating cold cereal my wife sat down next to me, warming her hands with a cinnamon besprinkled bowl of oats. With a covetous glance I asked, “So, is that stuff any good?”

I’d Found Ambrosia For Mere Mortals

Why the hell hadn’t I tried this stuff before? This was just the high octane, power-packed kickstart to the day I needed. I felt a tinge of regret at all of those cold, empty mornings spent with Mr. T cereal (all due respect to Mr. T). I liked the stuff so much I’ve been eating it every day since 2005 unless traveling prevents it. That’s over 1,800 bowls of oatmeal and I’m nowhere near close to tired of the stuff. What can I say, I’m making up for lost time.

Minute Oats are for Chumps

Now, to be clear, I’m talking about real oatmeal, not minute oats. I know everyone’s busy, but if you can spare a minute to microwave something you can spare four. It’s not like your standing at the stove stirring a pot or anything. Minute oats have the consistency of sawdust, no matter how much syrup you pour onto it. I’m no chef, but I believe I’ve perfected the basic day-to-day oatmeal fix up:

  1. Use Milk with fat in it. 2% at the lightest.  Never use water.
  2. Scoop oats into a bowl at least 2x larger than the food occupies.  This prevents overflow while microwaving.
  3. Pour a little less than the instructed amount of milk into bowl.
  4. Microwave it for 3:00 - 3:30
  5. Let it sit there for a few minutes.  It’ll steam up & get a little dry.
  6. Add the rest of the milk.  I usually use more than the directions call for.
  7. Microwave it again for 1:00 - 1:30
  8. Sprinkle or pour whatever you want on it.  I prefer a little brown sugar and a little more cinnamon.

The Fanciest Oats In All The Land

While on a trip to Chicago I ate at Orange Cafe & had their Pan-Seared Oatmeal.  It’s steel-cut oatmeal cooked with apple-cider, cream & spices, and baked.  Then it’s pan-seared and drizzled in an apple cider reduction. It’s easily one of the best oat-meals I’ve ever had. For dessert, try my wife’s apple/fruit crumble recipe:

  1. Peel, core and chop about 6 large granny smiths (apples, that is)
  2. Toss apple bits with 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1/2 c. dark brown sugar; pour into 9 x 11 baking dish
  3. In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 c. flour, 2 c. rolled oats, 1.5 c. dark brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  4. Stir in 1.5 to 2 sticks room-temperature unsalted butter to oat mixture until it starts to stick together like paste.
  5. Spread oat mixture evenly over apples
  6. Bake at 400* F for 30-40 mins or until crust just begins to brown.
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28 Responses

Leave a comment or contact me via Twitter @TrentWalton

  • Daniel Eckhart

    Delicious! Big oat fan here! Big fan I say.

    Do you have a preferred brand? I advocate Bob’s Red Mill Thick Cut Oats

  • Michael Rice

    I hate to admit it, but since I prepare my oats at the office, I use water.

    Commence public shaming.

  • Christopher Meyers

    I also love oatmeal. It’s a wonderful food, and versatile, too.

    I prepare steel cut oats at home:
    At night, I start a crock pot on low with 4 parts water to 1 part oats. I wake up to a couple servings of oats, hot and ready to go.

    Plus, I always have leftovers that I can save, and use later, for breakfast, or in savory dishes at dinner.

  • Kate

    My kids prefer their oatmeal in granola form, and we mix a big pan of granola to eat with yogurt and honey at least once every week or so.

    They don’t really trust the texture of slimy oatmeal the rest of the time- but I keep some of this around for back up, in case they change their minds:

    http://family.go.com/parent-to-parent/blogs/catherine-newman-blog/instant-oatmeal-871883/

    • Trent

      Kate, I think that “slimy” fear is pretty standard... they’ll come around sooner or later. It’s only a mater of time!

  • Gustavo

    Your site is very tastyfully designed and I enjoy the content.

    Question: What font do you use for the headers, it looks very nice.

  • Michael Kozakewich

    I must have had at least 5000 bowls, by now.

    I just mix my oats with sugar and milk, and eat it like that. It’s best with chewy oats.

  • Andy Stratton

    Bob’s Red Mill are the best oats ever!

  • Roadhawg

    OK, Trenton, I’m going to throw a really good on at you. If you have leftover oatmeal, don’t toss is down the sink! Put in the fridge (I refer to it as the ice box) and next morning pour cold milk and sugar on it and dive in. I learned this from my grandmother, Nannie, and some of my friends’ grandmothers when I would sleep over with them. Must have been the thing to do in the old days.

  • Zachattack

    I eat a bowl of the organic instants every morning in the winter time. I love it , like the chump I am But I would like to try those awesome Oats for real some day.

  • Michelle

    How lovely, an ode to oatmeal! If you only ever use sweet mix ins, you should look up a few savory recipes. You’ll never look at oatmeal the same way again.

  • Ranjani

    I don’t know. For me, oatmeal is a slow, deliciously time-consuming meal. It’s the food I save for languishing for two hours in front of a TV or, perhaps, when we all put our clothes in the dryer for funsies because it’s ridiculously cold outside. Oatmeal sort of has a time and place for me, and while I love it to pieces, cereal and/or chocolate milk are my go-to breakfast treats.

    But damn, if it isn’t awesome.

  • Matt Hamm

    This is such a lovely page design Trent! Love the background texture, did you create it or did you find it somewhere?

    Some beautiful typography. I really like your individual comment reply’s too.

    Great work!

    • Trent

      Thanks, Matt. The texture came from a piece of an illustration I grabbed from YWFT a few years ago. I couldn’t find the exact one, but they’ve got lots of good stuff.

  • Lori Brunson

    I’m a lover of oatmeal as well. On this week’s agenda is a new recipe I’m trying for Maple Syrup Oatmeal Scones. Wish me luck.

  • Kevin Mears

    Love the page design.

    However, the Scottish (famous for their love of porridge) way with Oats is with water, no milk, and a little salt. At least that what my wife tells me!

    That’s too hardcore for me. I like it your way

  • James Kelleway

    I had not had oatmeal (or porridge as it was called in my youth) for many a year until I read this blog and I thought maybe it was time for me to reconnect.

    I have been eating it every weekday for the last week and a half and want to thank you for re-introducing it to my life.

    Personally I think Honey and Cinnamon is the way to go, but to each their own.

    Also, congrats for getting into .net this month and Paravel too.

    • Trent

      James, thanks. I’ve definitely been known to sneak a little honey in my oats from time to time. Not a bad idea.

  • jonathan bowden

    hi trent,
    first off, love your site! the design / layout / content / and division of article and notes is awesome! also, i love oatmeal as well. well, i would make my homemade breakfast tacos or scramble everyday if it wouldn’t make my heart explode. but, since i want to live past 30, i usually eat oatmeal a few times a week at least. I started experimenting a little a few years back, and i wonder if you have tried these variations methods:

    1. i’ve found that pouring boiling water over the oats and avoiding the microwave produces a much more desirable texture to both the oats and the additional add-ons.

    2. the add-ons. i like oatmeal, but not by itself. as a kid i would usually just add brown sugar and butter. but i’ve become more adventurous as of late. here is my favorite recipe right now:

    1 bowl of oats
    1 tbsp of butter. pure organic glorious butter.
    1 (or 2) tbsp of peanut butter
    1/2 of a chopped up banana
    handful of walnuts
    some raisins if i have them

    i called it.... oatmeal supreme! it’s great with a cup of coffee! hope you can try it one day! enjoi!

    • Trent

      Oatmeal Supreme indeed. I’m pretty impressed with your use of butter, peanut butter and walnuts. You’re a champion.

  • Kyle Steed

    I don’t like oatmeal but I sure love Phaeton.

  • Marny Youngdahl

    I too love oatmeal! I have eaten it nearly every morning for three years now. I buy the 5 minute oats in a 20 lb sack at a time. I cook it in the microwave on medium (defrost) for 5.5 minutes. Let it sit a few minutes-- perfect. I only decorate it with whole raw almonds. I’ve recently tried the oatmeal at Starbucks. It’s great in a pinch. So glad that I’m not the only one in love with oatmeal!

  • Chelsea

    I love oatmeal. This post made me so happy. I am a plain oatmeal eater, just a little salt. I do enjoy it with brown sugar sometimes. I did not fall in love with Starbucks version, but yes good in a pinch.

    Thank you for writing this!

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