It’s a chilly, windy, rainy morning. Even though we’ve had a very warm spring, it drops back normal once a week or so and this is one of those days. The “good” cereal is gone. I don’t feel like making muffins or pancakes. No one wants eggs or a smoothie. So we decide on oatmeal.
I grew up never having had true, homemade oatmeal. We ate the instant stuff. My favorite was always cinnamon and spice, though it’s almost impossible to find in a box all by itself. Second favorites are maple & brown sugar and apples and cinnamon. The first time I had “real” oatmeal was in a hospital after one of my children were born. I wouldn’t recommend that. They cook it just in water. Blah. Even with the pat of butter and the packet of sugar they give you, plus a little bit of milk, there’s really no flavor. So when I bought plain rolled oats to make myself I at LEAST cooked it with half water/half milk. With some brown sugar and cinnamon it was good enough. But still not as good as the cinnamon & spice. But, it was cheaper so I made it from scratch now and then.
Over the past 15 years or so, I’ve been doing more and more research on healthy eating. More recently I’ve become more aware of how important protein is in our diet. I tried a semi-vegetarian thing about 10 years ago and I was thin – but weak. I had sold our goats and drank little milk and ate less meat. I liked how I looked. Well, I did until I went back to drinking raw milk and eating meat and saw a photo of myself from that time. Yikes! Much too thin and sickly! Now I know why my mom and a couple of friends had been concerned.
Back to the oatmeal. After learning about how important good protein (and fat) sources are for us, I started working on ways to sneak it into more foods that are normally just grain-based. My children (and I) really like our grains, but just grains aren’t the best choice all the time. So about 2 years ago I decided to go up a notch or two with our oatmeal. I still use half milk and half water. But then I add a little bit of butter. Cook on medium heat and stir to prevent sticking and burning. After it’s cooked I beat up an egg or two, depending on how much I’m making, in a separate bowl, then pour some of the hot oatmeal into the eggs while mixing it up. When it’s combined well, I pour that back into the pot and cook for another minute. Then I added a splash of vanilla extract. From there it goes into everyone’s bowls. The basic additions are brown sugar and pure maple syrup. Most are good with that. Then some add some cinnamon. Maybe nutmeg, too, and cloves. Some like to add chopped apple or banana. Oh my! This is SO much better than the instant stuff
Here’s my basic recipe. It makes about 4 cups of oatmeal, which feeds me and 5 or 6 children. But they don’t eat much, so adjust according to your family’s appetite. The basic instructions are above. I’m assuming a little bit of prior knowledge here. Quick oats can cook in less than 5 minutes. Regular rolled oats take about twice as long. If you need more help, ask2 cups rolled or quick oats, 2 cups water, 2 cups milk, 1 Tablespoon butter, 2 eggs, lightly beaten Suggested additions: vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, chopped fruit or berries, brown sugar, maple syrup
You are certainly not limited by this list of additions. You could use almond extract and blueberries or raspberries. There are lots of other sweeteners – honey, sugar, agave nectar, stevia. Any fruit or berry. If you have a garden and grow your own fruit, use what’s in season. Or just put in some apple butter or jelly or marmalade. Other extracts are lemon, orange, pecan. Use your imagination, be creative.
Have fun and healthy eating!