STEEL CUT OATS
It seems that one of the staple breakfast foods of almost everyone’s childhood is good old oatmeal. Moms cook it up every morning to fill hungry tummies with warmth and nutrition before sending little bodies out into the world for school, play dates, sports, or whatever adventures are waiting. Not MY mom, though. None of us LIKE oatmeal. My opinion of the stuff while growing up was that it was gooey, slimy, yucky stuff. The only good oatmeal was the kind that was baked into cookies, but not if those cookies also included raisins. Nope…the only black chunks I wanted in my cookies were made out of CHOCOLATE! Friends and extended family members tried to get me to like oatmeal and I even tried to get myself to like it sometimes. After all, it SMELLS wonderful, but that first spoonful was always enough to remind me how much I hated the stuff. It didn’t matter what ingredients were used to gussy it up – brown sugar, cinnamon, fruit, nuts, cream, or milk; nothing could make a bowl of oatmeal edible to me, even though everyone (except my parents and my siblings) kept telling me how delicious they were and how good they were for me! I kinda felt like that poor guy being badgered by Sam I Am in Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham”:
I could not, would not on a boat.
I will not, will not with a goat.
I will not eat them in the rain.
I will not eat them on a train.
Not in the dark! Not in a tree!
Not in a car! You let me be!
I do not like them in a box.
I do not like them with a fox.
I will not eat them in a house.
I do not like them with a mouse.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them ANYWHERE!
I do not like green eggs and ham!
I do not like them, Sam-I-am
Was there something wrong with me? Was I missing some vital childhood gene – the gene that would allow me to like oatmeal? Hmmm…well, at least if a genetic mutation was the cause of my lack of oatmeal amoré, I could blame THAT one on my parents!
After I grew up and moved out, I went through that phase that every young adult goes through. You know what I’m talking about. That phase where we only eat the three or four foods we truly loved as children, because we are cooking for ourselves now and we can have Spaghettios every day for a week if we want to! That didn’t last too long, though, because I truly love to cook and have been addicted to recipes ever since I was in grade school. So, once I got past the “I can eat whatever I want” phase, I decided to once again try to like oatmeal. I didn’t jump right into the deep end and expect to love oatmeal, but I figured I could at least learn to like it. I tried all the different flavor varieties of instant oatmeal, even the one with “dinosaur eggs” in it that “hatched” little gummy dinosaurs in your bowl of goo. Heck, I even tried adding chocolate chips to it. After all, chocolate chips made oatmeal cookies delicious, so why not a bowl of oatmeal? But no…I still could not even bring myself to tolerate that brown, slimy mass. So, I gave up…until a couple of weeks ago.
I spend quite a bit of time on the Recipe Exchange here at AllRecipes. One of the other regulars there, known as “SD”, had been talking quite a bit about “Steel Cut Oats” and I was intrigued. I asked her several questions about them and she gave me some awesome answers. Other regulars on the Exchange tried the steel cut oats and really liked them, but I was still skeptical. See, all of these people who liked the steel cut oats also liked regular oatmeal. Even so, I went ahead and bought a small amount of steel cut oats at my grocery store’s bulk foods section and cooked them up. I added brown sugar, a little cinnamon, and some milk. They were okay, but still nothing that would make me want to eat them every morning. Then one day MomZilla posted a thread saying she had tried an experiment with regular oatmeal that turned out awesome. She cooked them with chicken broth and added savory seasonings like garlic, salt, and pepper and a little cheese. Suddenly a light bulb went off…and it was a brilliantly bright light bulb! I suddenly KNEW why I didn’t like oatmeal! See, I’m not the kind of person who likes sweets all that much. A chocolate cake is safe in my presence indefinitely, but a bag of potato chips is doomed to a quick and violent demise if it’s left within my reach. All those years I had been trying SWEET versions of oatmeal, because “that’s how everyone eats it”. No wonder I wasn’t liking them! The next day I cooked more of the steel cut oats and added a little butter and some salt and pepper to my bowl. They were OMGosh GOOD!! In fact, I liked them so much that I have been eating a bowl of them every morning for almost two weeks! I love the way the oats kind of “pop” when you chew them, sort of like barley or brown rice do. And I love the warm, full feeling that lasts well into the day. And the best part? I can now tell the Sam I Am’s in my life:
I do! I like them, Sam-I-Am!
And I would eat them in a boat.
And I would eat them with a goat.
And I will eat them in the rain.
And in the dark. And on a train.
And in a car. And in a tree.
They are so good, so good, you see!
So I will eat them in a box.
And I will eat them with a fox.
And I will eat them in a house.
And I will eat them with a mouse.
And I will eat them here and there.
Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!