Sunday, May 27, 2012

Eat Your Oatmeal!...With Your Fingers

Oatmeal.  The word is warm, it steams, it gurgles on the stovetop and the aroma congers up the image of a cool fall morning when woodsmoke hangs in the air and geese honk overhead.  

There, on the ranch cook stove in mama’s oversized pot we’d lift the lid with a clang and view the bubbling slime ("looks like buggers,” one of the six said); our breakfast.  Since then I have come to enjoy oatmeal and its many benefits.  I’ve fed it to my growing children with their health in mind, save one, Zach.

Zach does not eat with utensils, a small obstacle, therefore, porrage’y type foods are out for him, which proves a slight health conscious dilemma for his caregiver, me.  I once heard a friend say that she cooked her irish oatmeal in the crockpot all night long.  I cocked my head to the side and took note, I’d never heard of that method for cooking oats before.  I didn’t give it much thought till I saw some recipes for the same posted on the newly put forth social media craze, Pintrest.  I gave the pottage a whirl this winter while we had our grown children and grand babies visiting (I forgot to spray oil into the crockpot first though.  A mild expletive inducing mistake).  The recipe was, to me, surprisingly delicious, in spite of the heavy brown crust lining the inside of my shiny crockpot insert.

It got me thinking.  How can I get Zach to eat this?  I made up a cookie recipe similar to the oats (a good second), I tried the spoon to the lips routine, which caused my twenty-year-old to turn his head in displeasure.  Ha-rumph-a-rooie!  Well, you know what they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way, by gum (thanks, Grandpa Culp for the, “By gum” part)!

Shortly thereafter I had an epiphany during one of my unnerving “middle of the night hot-flashes”; they can be useful occasionally.  I was excited to give it a try.  The next evening I mixed all of the ingredients into my ancient, never say die slow cooker (I forgot to spray the oil in first...again!).  I set the dial to low and smiled, as I meandered up the stairs with a book under my arm, tea in hand; a healthy breakfast would be ready to serve as soon as feet hit the floor. These small seemingly silly things give this homemaker/caregiver a great since of accomplishment.

This loosey-goosey easy recipe can fire up the culinary artist in almost anyone because, really, you can add any number of ingredients to the base of oats, all sorts of healthy things like flax, coconut, nuts, raisins, peanut butter, crisp bacon (organic, pasture raised of course, for savory lovers), chia seeds, hemp seeds, et cetera.  The next morning, if you like oats, you’ll find breakfast warm, satiating and yum.  

After Web (Zach’s dad) an I had our, utensil eaten oats that swam happily in melted butter and brown sugar, I plunked the heavy cinnamon smelling ingredients into a greased bread pan, pressed them as though I were making a mold and baked the “loaf” for an hour at 350 degrees (you may refrigerate the leftover oats and bake the loaf in a day, or two.  The refrigeration makes the concoction firmer and easier to work with; just press the cooked refrigerated oats into the greased loaf pan as directed above and bake).  Once cooled, this amazingly healthy loaf cereal may be cut into moist finger sized slices for dipping in melted butter and maple syrup, or for the utensil’less eater, bite sized squares.

As Zach’s health and fitness guru, I’m very happy to have come up with a way for him to eat oatmeal...with his fingers no less and me, I’ve given it a shot, you bet!  It works for we busy utensil users who want the experience of eating oatmeal with our fingers occasionally; quite satisfying actually.  Spread on a pat of softened pasture butter, drizzle a little warm honey over the top and eat on the go-go-go.

This experiment, gone good, has added a much needed change-up in Zach’s deeply rutted breakfast routine.  I hope it also helps you kick one little finger-food-eating breakfast dilemma in the buttski!


Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oatmeal, With Options
Make sure to use steel cut oats in this delicious crockpot breakfast recipe.  I use Bob’s Red Mill organic steel cut oats (look for gluten free).  Costco now sells steel cut oats in 4 LB 8 OZ bags.  Yay Costco!
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 8 hours Total Time: 8 hours, 15 minutes
Organic Ingredients: (you may make up your own, by using the 1 cup oats and 4 cups water, just add a total of 2 cups of anything, coconut, raisins, flax, chia seeds…mix it up oh creative one :))
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/2 cup of cold milled flaxseed, or chia seeds

  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup dates, chopped
  • 4 cups water, with a 1/2 tsp salt and a pinch of cinnamon and mace added
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 2 tablespoons honey, or maple syrup
Spray inside of slow cooker with organic nonstick cooking spray…please. Combine all ingredients except half and half and honey in the slow cooker, cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 8 hours. Stir in half and half and honey, and serve with butter and sweetener (coconut palm sugar is a winner).  With leftovers (if there are any) grease a loaf pan with coconut oil, or nonstick spray and pour oatmeal to within 1/2 inch of the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for up to one hour, or until set.  The loaf will set further when it is cooled and placed into the refrigerator.  Loaf may be sliced and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.  You may warm it slightly in a buttered frying pan, or microwave. Drizzle with a mixture of melted butter and warmed honey, mmmm.  Messy, a little yes, but so delicious!  Zach eats it right out of the fridge.