Oatmeal (or porridge) as been a staple in homes for thousands of years – since 1000BC, and today over a thousand recipe variations can be found. Oatmeal has been a customary food of the peasantry, as a hearty and comforting food. I myself love oatmeal. I have started to incorporate it into our family as part of our mornings and weekend. It can be made the night before in a crockpot, with it being so nice waking up to the smells of breakfast in the morning.
Maddie lives in Chicago and loves her Oatmeal Morning rituals. She writes her blog, Mad on Food, which food has always been a gateway for her memories–the good, the bad, and everything in between. She shares recipes and stories that not only reflect on the past, but inspire in the present and look ahead toward the future.
“Ask any of my close friends or family and they’ll tell you, I’m a creature of habit. I wear the same t-shirts until they have holes in them. I eat an apple and peanut butter every day when I get home from work. I always buy bagels and cream cheese on Sundays. And, I eat a bowl of oatmeal nearly every morning for breakfast.”
“It’s still fuzzy as to when my infatuation with oatmeal began, but I can say that the relationship has been going strong pretty much since my later years of high school. As I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker, I’ve always felt at a loss for a morning ritual—those traditions that make you “somewhat” eager to get out of bed and take the edge off the pre-sunrise hours.”
“Oatmeal is my coffee, always providing that ideal combination of fuel, comfort, and familiarity needed to start my day off right.”
“Just as most people can operate their French press or Mr. Coffee in their sleep, so too can I whip up a pot of oatmeal with my eyes still half shut at 6:00am. This humble breakfast has become so much a part of my life that, after much practice, I’m now able to time my oatmeal production and consumption down to the minute before heading off to work.”
“The best thing about a simple bowl of oatmeal is its versatility. I think people have such negative associations with this type of breakfast because they’ve never had a bowl dolled up in an exciting or appetizing way. I mean, I love oatmeal, but the thought of sitting down to an unseasoned, and probably overcooked, bowl of it every morning holds little appeal.”
“I’ve found a simple formula of fruit + nuts + sweetener + milk helps remedy the boredom while also opening the door to some creativity and experimentation.”
Maddie has found a favorite recipe from Heidi Swanson’s ‘Super Natural Every Day’ collection to share.
“This combination proved so sublime that I actually blurted out an audible “oh my god!” upon taking my first bite. If that isn’t the ultimate stamp of approval, I don’t know what is. I hope this recipe brings an “oh my god!” moment to your next breakfast and helps revamp oatmeal’s image from just a bowl of mush to something to be desired.”
“Although oatmeal has become my go-to quick breakfast, this recipe really deserves to be savored leisurely on a weekend or day off. Feel free to substitute any of the toppings/mix-ins to fit your preferences. Don’t like prunes? Try currants, dried apricots, or raisins. Not a hazelnut fan? Almonds, walnuts, and pecans would all work beautifully as well. Whole milk/almond milk/plain yogurt can easily replace cream, as can honey/brown sugar/raw sugar for maple syrup.”
Oatmeal: Prunes, Hazelnuts, Brown Butter & Cream
Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups rolled outs
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/4 cup cream
8 prunes, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons maple syrup, or to taste
**20 hazelnuts, toasted and chopped (see recipe below)
**drizzle of brown butter (see recipe below)
Bring the water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the oats. Turn down the heat and simmer until the oatmeal has thickened and the oats are tender, about 10 minutes. Make sure to check in and stir the oatmeal from time to time so that it doesn’t get stuck to the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and fold in the cream and most of the prunes. Taste. Add maple syrup and sweeten to your liking.
Divide the oatmeal into four small bowls and top with the remaining prunes, the hazelnuts, and a hefty drizzle of brown butter.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scatter the hazelnuts on sheet pan in one even layer. Toast in the oven for 5-7min, shaking the pan every once in a while to ensure even cooking. Pull the tray out of the oven once the nuts have taken on a light brown color and a fragrant, toasty aroma.
Gently melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. After 2-3min, the butter will begin to separate into three distinct layers. Foam will appear on the surface of the butter, the milk solids will sink to the bottom of the pan, and the bright yellow, clarified butter will remain in between the two layers. As the butter continues to cook, the milk solids will begin to darken in color and take on a nutty aroma. Pull the butter off of the heat once all of the milk solids turn a deep chestnut brown color. Be sure to keep an eye on the pan during this process as the butter can go from browned to burnt very quickly.
Fundamentals of Oatmeal:
- Slow. Good oatmeal needs time, some people soak oats overnight, others cook theirs for hours, regardless of which method you use there is no doubt that really great oatmeal takes time.
- Use milk. Real die hard northerners will tell you the only way to eat oatmeal is with water and a pinch of salt. Although this indeed a great version of oatmeal most people prefer it made with a 50/50 ratio of water to milk.
- Good oats. Good quality oats are key, the more they have been rolled or worked the faster they will cook and the creamier the oatmeal will taste.
- Salt. Nearly almost all recipes are better for a good pinch of salt.
- Cream. There is no doubt that adding cream to oatmeal makes for a special treat and it tastes amazing but we would try to avoided it every day.
- Add stuff. The list of things you can add to oatmeal is endless, from raisins, fruit and nuts to brown sugar, syrup and cinamon. We are all fans of spicing up your oatmeal bowl but be careful not to over do it with the sugar. Favorite combinations are banana, raspberries and almonds. Coconut, nectarines, strawberries, blueberries, raisins, pecans, apples and peanut or almond butter.
- Finally. The most important thing about oatmeal is that you eat it. Even if it’s instant style porridge cooked in a rush in the microwave, any porridge is better than no porridge at all.
Photography: Ashley from Not Without Salt