It is possible to dork out on the details of any one thing. Like, someone is an expert on the perfect spacing of comb tines and someone else is an expert on pruning shear mechanics. I enjoy exploring the nuances of food and drink; I enjoy trying to be an expert on the food I make. The difference between a meh experience and a superb experience is all about the details, really — the espresso grind, the bread knead, the tomato harvest, the martini garnish, the noodle chew.
Let’s chat about oats.
We eat a lot of oatmeal in our home. It’s a hearty, easy, affordable, wholesome way to begin our days. And, being that a bowl of hot porridge lands on our table at least four days a week, we’ve learned a lot about oats.
- Begin with high quality oats. We prefer oats that maintain their shape and texture. Not all oats are created equal and if you think oats are gluey and bland, try our favorites. They will change your mind: Bob’s Red Mill Thick Rolled Oats, Wheat Montana Rolled Oats and Cream of the West Roasted Ranch Oats.
- Don’t overthink, don’t overcook. I don’t measure liquid and oats and I don’t cook as long as the package recommends. Just toss in a handful and add some liquid, cook for a few minutes. That’s all. It’s done when it tastes good, which is usually sooner than later. The later creates a gluey brick.
- Switch up the liquid. The most common way to make oatmeal is with water. But, try coconut water, coconut milk, almond milk (our favorite), rice milk or soy milk to add flavor, protein, nutrients and calories to tiny, always-hungry bodies. My kids eat two breakfasts these days so I am all about making food that will fuel their bodies for as long as possible.
- Save leftovers. Oatmeal keeps well and reheats with just a bit of water on the stovetop. Or, throw day-old oatmeal in pancake or muffin batter.
- Think outside the raisin box. Oats are pretty neutrally flavored and can be endlessly tweaked. A few of our favorites:
APPLE PIE OATMEAL > cook: oats, almond milk and one apple, chopped. Cook over low heat to allow apple to cook. Stir in cinnamon and honey.
COCONUT BLUEBERRY OATMEAL > cook: oats, coconut water, shredded coconut, a handful of frozen blueberries and flaxseed.
MAPLE PEANUT BUTTER OATMEAL > cook: oats, water, a few spoonfuls of peanut butter. Drizzle maple syrup on top.
BANANA SPLIT OATMEAL > cook: oats, almond milk, mashed banana. Add brown sugar and half and half.
SAVORY OATMEAL > I am not a sweet morning person. I mean, I am SWEET but I like savory morning things. I love savory oatmeal!
^ one of my favorite gifts to give to cooking friends: herb scissors ^
Cook: oats and water. Add shredded cheddar, salt, cumin. Top with chives, plain yogurt and sriacha. Also great with mushrooms, sautéed onion, cilantro, spinach, bacon, a fried egg….basically anything you’d put in a breakfast burrito.
My dear friend makes wooden kitchen tools and I naturally thought of him and Earlywood when developing the Heirloom Kitchen series. Earlywood tools are as beautiful as they are functional and lasting, objects to be inherited for certain. Thank you, Earlywood for sponsoring our home kitchen and this space.
^the Short Server^
Heirloom Kitchen believes kitchen intuition is not biological; it is inherited. Cooking confidence and knowledge is gently handed from one person to another. With Heirloom Kitchen, I give you my secrets — I share tools, tips and tricks that I have developed or inherited. I hope to also share your secrets: to bring in guests who will tell how they learned to perfectly cut a grapefruit, cook beans over a campfire, clean cast iron or gracefully feed an army of after-school children. Do you have a tool, tip or trick you’d like to share here? Email [email protected] with your idea; include ‘heirloom kitchen’ as the subject.