This morning I tried, for the first time, a boxed breakfast cereal called "Frosted Mini-Wheats." (If you wonder why a twenty-three-year-old Canadian had never before tasted them, please stay tuned for more stories about being homeschooled by an anti-sugar Nazi.) They tasted like Loofah sponges,* soaked in water, and then dipped in icing sugar, and placed in a box to dry for several months.
At family camp when I was nine, the children's supervisors had forgotten to come up with entertaining activities. Thus, we were all beading necklaces with this colorful cereal called "Fruit Loops." I'd heard of them before. Kids apparently liked them. So I tried one. It tasted like the artificially flavored chewable Vitamin C tablets I'd occasionally been given. Kind of gross. But I ate a few more. When I saw my mother after the sermon, she was displeased to see I'd eaten most of my necklace. (But c'mon, who would expect a child to KEEP a necklace made out of sticky foodstuff?) I didn't enjoy them enough to eat them again.
Now I haven't written this post to bemoan the popularity of these types of cereals. I tried "Captain Crunch" four months ago, and thought it was quite tasty. Maybe it was the salt. And Cheerios are all right, in a pinch. No, this post is about the forgotten breakfast food: Old Fashioned Oatmeal Porridge. It is cheap. It is easy to make. And really, the only reason anyone regards it as flavorless, is because it's promoted as a health food. When a food is promoted as such, people think they are supposed to serve it as it arrives--either raw, as in musli, or cooked in water, nothing added.
Oatmeal is much better treated as delicious. When a food is treated as such, people know they are obliged to add butter and cream to it, sprinkle sugar on top, and flavor with salt to the taste.
Faith Durand, who posted this recipe over at Apartment Therapy, agrees with me. And she explains the absolute best method of cooking oatmeal. I've been cooking steel-cut oats this way for several years, because it results in oatmeal at it's freshest, and tastiest.
When I was a kid, I had three oatmeal topping choices--soya milk, rice milk, and carrot juice powder (orange sugar made from carrots). Both types of milk always made me want to vomit, so I chose the carrot powder. It's not too bad. Makes a decent natural food coloring for icing, as well. You can buy it here, if you are interested.
Nowadays I usually stir in butter, some honey or brown sugar, and maybe raisins or dates. I tend to use whole milk (calorie power, oh yeah), but find cream a more than suitable substitute.
I remember, before the days of the nonsensical sodium panic, instant oatmeal packets were really salty, and really yummy. They aren't anymore. But of course, you can always add salt yourself. Don't forget it!
*Did you know that Luffa's are land plants? I hadn't. I'd thought they were ocean plants. But no, you can grow them yourself in your garden, and they look sort of like big zucchini. Awesome? Yeah. =D